Practice Learning Opportunities

Practice Learning is an integral part of a social worker's training. The new social work degree has resulted in an increase in the number of students coming onto the course which has had the knock on effect upon the number of Practice Learning Opportunities needing to be found for students.

Traditionally students spend their practice learning days within statutory teams or within the private and voluntary sector.

Here at the University of Bedfordshire we are identifying an increasing number of these traditional placements. Alongside traditional placements the Centre offers practice learning placements to final year BSc and MSc students.

The learning experience

The Centre offers a learning experience different from that offered by traditional placements. The student social work office caters for up to twelve students at any one time with computers and telephones and the use of an interview room.

The students are assigned an off-site practice educator who provides supervision on a fortnightly basis. This is alternated with on-site supervision provided by the Practice Development Co-ordinator and Centre Manager.

The University's pattern of student placements means students are available all year round, providing a continuity of service to referring agencies.

The work undertaken by students is varied allowing as one student describes "a diversity of experience". Whilst the work is predominantly children and families statutory work, the students' learning is diversified by undertaking projects referred from community based, private, voluntary, and independent social care resources.

It includes specific project work, casework referred from Luton Borough Council's Children and Learning Department with whom there is a service level agreement, cases referred to the Family Meeting Service (all students are trained as family meeting co-ordinators as a part of their induction) and work with members of the Experts by Experience service user and carer group.

The Experts by Experience are service users and carers who play an invaluable part in the University's social work programmes. The Centre acts as a hub for the group and support is provided by two Centre students.

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