Learning at Work week is an annual event in May. It aims to to put a spotlight on the importance and benefits of learning and development at work. This year it takes place from 15th-21st May and the theme is 'Curious & Creative'.
ScOPT are running a series of articles on the website to tie in with Learning at Work week, as well as highlighting appropriate resources each day.
This is a post about the placement journey by Gillian Muir.
The placement journey... planning is the key!
As an experienced Practice Educator, I have made many placement journeys. I have come to recognise the key staging posts, steep hills, dead ends and finish lines. As with any journey, planning is the key. For students and Practice Educators, having a good map and even better, experienced travel guides, can help chart the course, ensuring the student gets the most from their journey and has plenty of "holiday snaps" to show for it!
Students and less experienced Practice Educators or Practice Educators new to a placement agency will benefit from tools which help them to "keep the end in mind" whilst taking full advantage of the views and exploring minor roads along the way. Agency Profiles, induction packs and sample workloads can be helpful in giving the student and Practice Educator a sense of the journey ahead and to consider how this will meet the student's particular learning needs. It is important to remember that we are not all comfortable with a map and that verbal and pictorial directions are much appreciated!
Working on designing placements some years ago, at the introduction of the current SiSWE, I developed a mapping tool. This was intended to help with navigating the new standards and placement designs by overlaying what we know to be the stages of placement. The tool maps stages of placement, eg. induction to a range of practice and learning activity likely to be undertaken and suggests evidence the student could be generating as a result. Get the tool at https://practicelearning.info/mod/data/view.php?d=4&rid=235.
The placement journey is often identified as that of the student but the Practice Educator and Link worker are also travellers and all can benefit from travel reviews, Rough Guides and recommendations. Here are a few which I have found useful and which have been recommended by others. It may be that your agency Learning and Development team have these resources or could support you in purchasing these:
- Developing a Quality Practice Curriculum: A Guide for Practice Educators (2014) by Siobhan Maclean. This is a ring bound folder with activities to support learning in relation to specific aspects of the standards against which we assess social work students. This has recently been updated to map to the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) used in England and can be used with students and NQSWs.
- Effective Practice Learning in Social Work (Transforming Social Work Practice Series) by Jonathan Parker (2010). This is aimed at students but equally helpful to Practice Educators and Link Workers when thinking about preparing for practice, using supervision and gathering evidence.
- Social Work Placements: A Traveller's Guide (Student Social Work) by Mark Doel (2009). This book is set out using the metaphor of a journey to guide the student through the life of a placement. It begins with having the right "documentation", goes through "arriving", "mapping", "guiding", "testing", coping when the "going gets tough", going "off the beaten track" and "afterwards".