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Unit information: Practice Learning 1 in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Practice Learning 1
Unit code SPOLM5103
Credit points 60
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Dugdale
Open unit status Not open



Social Work Studies 1 SPOLM5102

Applied Social Sciences and Law, SPOLM0034

Foundations of Social Work: The Professional Role SPOLM0032

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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit comprises two parts. Part One seeks to ensure that students are ready to commence practice-based learning. Teaching covers the core tasks and skills of social work practice, and is supported by skills-based workshops, aimed at ensuring that students have a basic competence in communication and interviewing skills. The rationale for Part One derives from the Department of Health (2002) requirement to ensure that social work students are safe to practice before undertaking any placement. Part Two of the unit provides students with a practice placement of 70 days, in an agency setting, supervised and assessed by a suitably qualified and experienced practice educator. Placements in the region are managed on a cooperative basis involving key HEIs and placement agencies. Students’ practice is assessed according to the Standards of Proficiency, which are minimum standards set by the Health and Care Professions Council. This is taken together with the Professional Capabilities Framework established by The College for Social Work which is designed to enable an holistic assessment of student capabilities beyond basic minimum standards. Placements are monitored and evaluated via established arrangements for quality assurance.

The aims of the unit are:

i) To enable students to develop a critical understanding of the common stages and processes of helping people and to think systematically about their work.

ii) To equip students to see beyond the individual cases to the family, the community, and the broader social context out of which social problems arise so that they can try to intervene at the most appropriate point.

iii) To review the core values of social work and develop students’ awareness of their implications in practice.

iv) To ensure that students are competent in communication and interviewing skills and that they are safe to begin practice learning.

v) To provide students with a practice placement in a social work context, managed and assessed according to the Standards of Proficiency for Social Work (Health and Care Professions Council), the Professional Capabilities Framework (The College of Social Work), and the Department of Health (2002) Requirements for Social Work Training.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will have the abilities to:

i) apply their knowledge of the stages of the helping process and the skills associated with each;

ii) be able critically to use law, policy, theory and research to inform practice at the level of a beginning practitioner;

iii) demonstrate a sound foundation in communication and interviewing skills;

iv) practise, in a social work setting, the Standards of Proficiency and the Social Work Capabilities, to a level commensurate with a student part-way through initial professional education;

vi) incorporate core social work values into their practice, recognising diversity and human rights, and, with support, address ethical dilemmas that arise in practice, making appropriate responses, both personally and professionally;

vii) understand and apply standards of professional behaviour appropriate to pre-qualifying levels of study;

viii) apply, with support and supervision, critical reflection and analysis in the practice context.

Teaching Information

Lectures, skills workshops, practice learning in a social work setting, supervised and assessed by a suitably qualified practice educator.

Assessment Information

In line with professional requirements, part one will be assessed by each student producing a portfolio of work that demonstrates their readiness to undertake direct practice. This information will be examined alongside Criminal Records Bureau checks and personal references and a report from a qualified social worker whom the student will have shadowed for 2 days. This work will all be assessed on a pass / fail basis, and all elements must be passed.

Part two will be the assessment of practice by the practice educator in consultation with a University tutor and other relevant people who may be involved with the placement) and by a Case Study assignment (4000 words) marked by the University tutor. The outcome of the assessed Case Study will provide the recorded mark for the unit. The student’s practice will be assessed through the Practice Assessor’s report and the student’s portfolio of work in relation to professional capabilities expected at end of first placement stage (as set out in the Professional Capabilities Framework) on an overall pass / fail basis. All elements of assessment must be passed for the award of unit credits.

It will be a requirement, in accordance with the DoH (2002) Requirements for Social Work Training, that students MUST PASS PART ONE, in order to progress to Part Two.

Extensive guidance on assessment of the placement, based on the Professional Capabilities Framework and the Standards of Proficiency for social work, will be provided via a Practice Learning Handbook, which will be updated annually in the light of issues arising from monitoring and quality assurance procedures. The unit learning outcomes (above) are consistent with the national standards referred to above.

Reading and References

Koprowska J. (2010), Communication and Interpersonal Skills in Social Work. Exeter: Learning Matters, 3rd ed.

Lomax R., Jones K., Leigh S. & Gay C. (2010), Surviving Your Social Work Placement. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Teater, B 2014 An Introduction to Applying Social Work Theories and Methods (2nd Edn) Maidenhead Open University Press

Teater, B 2014 Contemporary Social Work Practice: A Handbook for Students Maidenhead Open University press

Thompson S. and Thompson N. (2008), The Critically Reflective Practitioner. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Trevithick, P. (2012) Social Work Skills and Knowledge: A Practice Handbook. Third Edition Maidenhead: Open University Press

Walker S. & Beckett C. (2011), Social Work Assessment and Intervention. Lyme Regis: Russell House Publishing, 2nd ed.

Woodcock Ross, J. (2011), Specialist Communication Skills for Social Workers: Focusing on service users’ needs. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.