Diploma in Social Work 1975, MPhil 1990
I completed the One Year Post Graduate Diploma in Social Work in August, 1975. I was one of a privileged group of students to be sponsored by a local authority (in this case Edinburgh Corporation) to undertake the course with the proviso of working for that authority for two years on qualifying. This was one of the incentives in place at the time to deal with the shortage of qualified social work staff across Scotland. It was a generous package covering course costs, salary, expenses and a significant book allowance! Admission to the course was by interview with course tutor and a fieldwork teacher (in Ian’s case, Lorraine Waterhouse, then based at the ‘Sick Kids’ (Rillbank)). The head of the social work programme at that time was John Gillespie who previously had been director of social work in Fife. He had a challenging task in taking over from Megan Browne who had been the dominant figure in social work education at Edinburgh for some years.
My recollection is that the Edinburgh course was in a transitional stage, still rooted to some extent in psychodynamic theory (most noticeably promoted by Judith Brearley) but also influenced by systems thinking (taught by John Triseliotis). The course had a strong tutorial ethos reflected, for example, in social work practice classes (in Ian’s case led by Ralph Davidson). A one-week group experience at the time was controversial (at least with students) because of its psychodynamic theoretical base but also because of stories of ‘casualties’ – students who were distressed by the personal confrontational nature of some aspects of the experience. The ‘stories’ were more alarming than the reality! The group experience was led by Esmee Roberts who moved a few years later to Glasgow University (then a bit like a footballer moving from Rangers to Celtic or vice-versa!).
Edinburgh University had strong links with the Royal Infirmary (where Kirsty Marshall was fieldwork teacher) and with the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (who provided lectures on psychiatry). While the course had these medical links, there was also coverage of criminal justice, particularly through the teaching of John Waterhouse, whose background was probation.
I recall the student group being proactive in a number of ways, not least in arguing against the relevance of some of the teaching! At that time, ‘Case Con’ was emerging and gave students some material to argue against ‘casework’ as the dominant paradigm in social work. A small group of social work students took part in a protest against Keith Joseph who in a lecture at the University was promoting his controversial ideas of dealing with the ‘cycle of deprivation’. In 1974/75, though, the most radical group of social work students in Edinburgh was found not at the University but at nearby Moray House (where there were close links with Community Work and Community Education students).
My overall recollections of the course at Edinburgh are positive – the tutorial system provided significant support in learning, there seemed to be no problems in getting good placements, and the ethos of the course gave students confidence to move into qualified practice. I remember two of my class mates who achieved some prominence in social work - Moira Gibb and Dennis Rowley.
Both shone in class discussions and presentations. Dennis dressed as a typical 70s student – jeans, duffel coat and canvas bag over his shoulder. He had a good story about being on placement in Wester Hailes and this older women, who he visited a few times, was convinced he was the paper-boy!
I subsequently worked as a generic social worker in Muirhouse (North Edinburgh) for two years and then moved to be a children and families social worker with Quarriers. I established a fieldwork teaching unit in Quarriers in 1979 and then moved to Queen’s College as lecturer in social work in 1986, initially as a half-time post combined with working for Quarriers.
I returned to Edinburgh University to complete my MPhil part-time in 1990 (supervised by John Triseliotis and Lorraine Waterhouse) and became Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Queens College in 1991. Queen’s College merged with Glasgow College of Technology in 1993 to form Glasgow Caledonian University, where I remained as Head of Social Work/Senior Lecturer until my retirement in 2016.
Source: own contribution.