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Unit information: Assessment, Risk and Decision-making in 2015/16

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Unit name Assessment, Risk and Decision-making
Unit code SPOL30024
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Dendy Platt
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is designed to examine current research and theoretical knowledge related to the assessment of children and families and its application to practice. It aims to:

  • Develop students’ knowledge and skills in relation to risk assessment and the assessment of children and families with a range of complex needs, including assessing whether to reunite, with their parents, children who have been in the care system.
  • Develop students’ theoretical understanding of, and skills in, decision making in complex situations
  • Explore interagency working and decision making within professional networks in the context of risk
  • Consider theory and practice in relation to the involvement of service users in decision making
  • Support the development of skills in analytical and critical thinking in assessment

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the Unit, students should be able to:

  • Understand and evaluate current frameworks for, and approaches to social work assessment of children, young people and families, and apply this understanding and analysis in the practice context
  • Review different approaches to risk assessment and the use of risk assessment tools in practice
  • Identify the factors that support or hinder inter-professional decision making in situations of risk
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the range of theoretical, conceptual and practical issues affecting parental engagement with services, when children may be at risk of harm, and apply this understanding appropriately to practice
  • Plan approaches that support constructive involvement of services users in decision making, where possible
  • Demonstrate critical understanding and application of core social work values, including anti-oppressive practice, child-centred practice and recognition of service user perspectives

Teaching Information

Teaching will take place in 1.5 hour sessions, normally over a 3 day block with a further re-call day. The unit will combine lectures, seminar discussion and practical exercises.

Assessment Information

A reflective assignment (3000 words) critically analysing a piece of complex assessment work, supported by documentary evidence from the practice context; and Assessment through observation of a relevant aspect of the student’s practice by a practice assessor. This assessment will be based on criteria linked to the Professional Capabilities Framework.

The assignment will be marked and graded. The observation of practice will be assessed on a Pass/Fail basis; all practice-based elements of the assessment are must-pass but zero-weighted. Both pieces of work must be passed to gain the credit points for the Unit.

Reading and References

Barlow J., Fisher J. & Jones D. (2012), Systematic Review of Models of Analysing Significant Harm. London: Department for Education.

Calder, MC (ed) (2008) Risk Assessment in Safeguarding Children. Lyme Regis: Russell House Publishing

Holland, S. Child and Family Assessment in Social Work Practice. London: Sage. 2nd edition. Horwath J. (ed) (2009), The Child’s World: The Comprehensive Guide to Assessing Children in Need. London & Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2nd edition

Turney, D. Platt, D., Selwyn, J & Farmer, E. (2012) Improving Child and Family Assessments: Turning research into practice. London & Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Wade, J. Biehal, N., Farrelly, N & Sinclair, I (2011) Caring for Abused and Neglected Children: Making right decisions for reunification or long-term care. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.