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Events :: Practice Learning Event

Silhouette for no photo

On 29 November, the Scottish Organisation of Practice Teachers (ScOPT) came together with the University of Edinburgh to celebrate the importance of practice learning in social work education's history, and to look to future opportunities and challenges. Practice teachers attended from across Scotland, and were joined by current and retired staff members.

Find out more about the history of practice learning at Edinburgh university here. Read some marvellous quotes from earlier generations!


1.00 Welcome from Jon Bolton (on behalf of ScOPT) & Viv Cree (on behalf of the University of Edinburgh)

1.15 Looking back - Viv Cree in conversation with Wendy Paterson, including Q&A, focusing on…

  • Practice learning in the 1960s – what was it like to be a student then? And a young student?
  • Being an academic staff member in the 1970s and 80s – SW Scotland Act, curriculum
  • Regulation - CCETSW in 1990s, ADP, then SSSC, registration & new degree in 2000s

1.45 Moving forward – Viv and Wendy were joined by a group of practice teachers for further discussion and Q&A, focusing on …

  • How can we bridge the gap between academic and social work practice communities?
  • What are the implications for practice in the availability of placements across statutory and independent sectors & what can we do to target support for practice teaching in both sectors?
  • How can practice learning continue to contribute to wider practice development across the social service workforce?

2.30 ScOPT AGM (refreshments for centenary visitors)

2.45 Refreshments

3.15 Small groups, looking back, moving forward – sharing stories & mementos

4.00 Wrap up

4.15 End

The panel

Viv Cree did the one-year Diploma in Social Work/CQSW at Edinburgh University in 1980-81, where she did placements at Broxburn Area Office and the Department of Psychological Medicine, at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.  She subsequently worked in intermediate treatment and later Family Care, where she went on to beco

me the full-time student supervisor, before going on to work very part-time in the EVOC Practice Teaching Unit while doing her PhD.  She has now been at Edinburgh University as a staff member for 25 years, and considers herself lucky to have worked with many generations of students, colleagues and practitioners.

Wendy Paterson studied Social Studies at the University of Edinburgh between 1963 and 1965 and subsequently did the one year Medical Social Work certificate, 1965-1966.  She had placements during all aspects of her university training.  After qualifying, she worked in the student unit at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, training Edinburgh and Moray House students, before coming to the university as a lecturer between 1973 and 1976.  After children and a period of ill-health, Wendy returned to the university as a sessional tutor in 1984, before taking over the practice learning organiser mantle in 1987.  In 1991, Wendy became part-time development officer with the South-East Scotland training consortium; her last paid job was as Learning Network Director between 2005 and 2011.  Wendy continues to do voluntary work with a number of Edinburgh charities.

Linda Grierson qualified in social work in 1983; studying at Stirling University.  This was a time of generic work, where she undertook a lot of preventative work in communities and had some great partnerships with health colleagues.  She started her career working predominately in child protection, spent nearly 20 years in the voluntary sector as both a practitioner in a family centre and later as a practice learning co-ordinator in a practice teaching unit.  For the last 10 years, she has been working part-time in different learning and development roles, allowing her to undertake temporary, freelance and sessional work for around a dozen different organisations and in different roles including practitioner, learning adviser, group worker and volunteer.  She now works for Perth council, as a senior learning and development officer.  She was an ex-chair of ScOPT and is one of the founding members.

Marianne Hughes did the 2 year Diploma in Social Work/CQSW at Edinburgh University between 1978 and 1980.  She has good memories of her social work placements at the Leith Area Office and Crossroads Youth & Community Association in Govanhill, Glasgow.  She subsequently got her first social work job at the Leith Area Office and she also started to offer student placements at this time, going on to co-lead a practice teaching unit with Mike Tait at Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations' Council.  She is now working as the Practice Learning and Development Manager with Midlothian Council, responsible for all the mandatory, CPD and qualifications for social services staff - so the thread of education has continued.

Pat MacCowan has been a Learning and Development Adviser with SSSC for 7 years. Prior to this, she worked as a social work academic in Dundee University for around 20 years.  During this period, she had a couple of spells of part-time appointments with Dundee City Council as a Team Manager for a Children and Families team, and Perth Council in staff development, primarily working with practice learning.  During her time as a social work lecturer, she was Practice Learning Manager and the academic adviser to the Practice Assessment Panel.  Her experience before working in the university was as a practice educator working with students in a variety of settings. Her practice experience was within child health in a hospital setting.

Fiona Stansfield is the current Chairperson of ScOPT and has been with ScOPT for 3 years.  Fiona works with the University of Strathclyde as Manager of Practice Learning for both the undergraduate and postgraduate social work programme.  She qualified as a Social Worker from Paisley University in 2003 and has worked in a variety of front line social work roles in adult care and learning disability services.  She received her Practice Teaching qualification in 2008 and then subsequently moved into a full time practice teaching role with 2 different local authorities in the West of Scotland before moving to Strathclyde University last year.

Thanks to Avril McIvor, Practice Learning Organiser at the University of Edinburgh, for taking photographs and putting together a short reminder of the event.