Hello! My name is Cath Shaw, practice educator and practice development officer with Learning Network West. I started in this role in December 2018 and became a ScOPT trustee in June 2019. Before this I was a social worker for 15 years in various areas of local authority practice including community care, hospital social work/palliative care, substance misuse, emergency social work services and latterly justice services.


The practice wisdom of Independent Practice Teachers

Part of my role with Learning Network West is supporting independent practice teachers (IPTs) which includes hosting regular forums. I recognised the range of knowledge, experience, understanding and insight amongst this group of upwards of thirty practitioners.

Independent Practice Teacher, Sarah McCulloch delivered a meaningful input on the need for relationship based practice in practice education. Sarah subsequently featured as a speaker at our annual Learning Network West conference in July 2019 and in ScOPT’s ThursdayThunking in January 2020.

Practice Wisdom was started to continue sharing these skills, knowledge and meaningful connections on a regular platform for independent practice teachers.


Meaningful Connections

One such meaningful connection was with this week’s Practice Wisdom contributor, Sarah Rose. Sarah is an independent practice teacher with Learning Network West. I first connected with Sarah after she read an article in Practice Wisdom. Darren Chapman, my co-worker from Learning Network West had shared a piece on resilience and social work called Is Anyone Asking Why Social Workers Are Failing to Be Resilient?

Reinforcing the joy of a good share, Sarah emailed me and highlighted that she was in her 3rd year of a PhD on the emotional resilience of social workers. Sarah commented that there seemed to be a growing focus in the literature on the potentially oppressive expectations of individual resilience while neglecting to consider the cultural and structural factors of social work. Furthermore, in Sarah’s interviews with social workers, it was apparent that often the organisation is a threat rather than a support to resilience.

Whilst in front line practice, I had experienced two periods of “practice burn-out”, each one occurring the text-book seven years apart with high case- loads and a lack of consistent, effective supervision as contributory factors. Therefore, I was keen to talk more to Sarah about her work and recognised the benefit from others from this type of research. I asked Sarah if she would contribute to one of our Spring-Summer Collection 2020 practice teacher workshops which Learning Network West are running in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University. Sarah delivered an excellent, interactive, informed workshop in March 2020 with very positive feedback from attendees.

Sarah has now adapted her work on resilience to the COVID-19 crisis specifically for front-line social work practitioners. Sarah will also be running this workshop again in June 2020 as a COVID-19 special as part of the Just Keep Practice Teaching virtual workshop series .Extending meaningful connections to meaningful collaborations, I will also deliver an input on mindfulness at Sarah’s workshop. Details coming soon.

Sarah’s Practice Wisdom article features on SASW’s website, please click below to access the full article:


Sharing Practice Wisdom

I will be running Practice Wisdom as a regular feature here on our ScOPT website. If you would like to share the joy of a meaningful connection, share any articles of interest, be super brave and share something you have written yourself or comment on anything that you have read, please email me at cath.shaw@westlearn.org

Thanks so much and take care,
Cath 🙂


Leave a Reply