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Unit information: Advanced Practice in Communication and Direct Work with Children in 2015/16

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Unit name Advanced Practice in Communication and Direct Work with Children
Unit code SPOLM0026
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Turney
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit is designed to support experienced practitioners to extend their knowledge and understanding of direct work and to encourage them to interact more directly with children and young people. It aims to:

  • Enhance students’ theoretical and practical understanding of effective communication with children and young people (including disabled children with and/or those with different communication needs), their families and their carers,
  • Appraise the evidence base for different therapeutic techniques and approaches, to develop an informed view of ‘what works’ to support best outcomes for children who have experienced different forms of harm
  • Consider the significance of participatory and rights-based approaches to work with children and young people and their application to practice
  • Understand the child/young person in context and explore children’s responses to experiences of trauma, separation and loss
  • Promote students’ understanding of the impact on themselves and others of working with trauma through the process of critical reflection

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Synthesise and apply theory in practice to support direct work with children and young people
  • Critically appraise different working methods and strategies and use professional judgement to apply these to enhance their work with children and young people
  • Critically assess the use of therapeutic approaches with children and young people who have experienced different forms of harm
  • Demonstrate critical awareness, and ability to judge the appropriate use, of participatory methods with children and young people
  • Assist children and young people to express their needs, wishes and feelings and to understand and process difficult past experiences

Teaching details

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, workshops and practical exercises

Assessment Details

A critical and reflective assignment (3500-4000 words) analysing a piece of direct work undertaken by the student, supported by documentary evidence from the practice context; and Assessment through observation by an appropriate practice assessor of a relevant aspect of the student’s practice; 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

Barnes, V. (2007) Young people’s views of children’s rights and advocacy services: a case for ‘caring’ advocacy? Child Abuse Review, 16, pp.140-152.

Bell, M. (2011) Promoting Children’s Rights in Social Work and Social Care: A guide to participatory practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Lefevre, M. (2010) Communicating with Children and Young People: Making a difference. Bristol: Policy Press.

Luckock, B. & Lefevre, M. (eds) (2008) Direct Work: Social work with children and young people in care. London: BAAF.

McLeod, A. (2007) Whose agenda? Issues of power and relationship when listening to looked-after young people. Child and Family Social Work,12, pp278-286.

McMahon, L. (2009) The Handbook of Play Therapy and Therapeutic Play. Hove: Routledge. 2nd Edition

Triangle (2009) Three-Way Street: Putting children at the centre of three-way communication. Hove: Triangle.