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Sam Black

Sam Black

Master of Social Work 2012

Graduated: 2012

I graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2012. I began working with Circle as a Family Support Worker with the Harbour Project in September 2012.  My contact with the University has been indirectly – through Practice Teaching staff at Circle. I have closely, but informally supported the SW students that have attended Circle for placement and I have been consistent in feeding back any information about placements to relevant practice teachers such as student feedback and how to improve practice and placement experiences for the students. I have organised observational placement inductions and supervised students who have attended for observational placement by offering short supervision and feedback on reflective journals. My role has remained consistent over time and has not changed due to time restrictions not allowing for a more involved role with the students.

Looking ahead my hopes for social work education in the future include social work education being more practice based and offering more placement opportunities. I think it would also be useful for students to have more direct experience of using social work assessment tools and paperwork throughout placement and taught learning in university (child’s plans, risk assessment materials in Criminal Justice, single shared assessments etc), sessions on how to compile a child’s plan effectively, appropriate use of language and terminology when writing reports (not using words such as “chaotic”, “drug addict” etc) and being encouraged to be factual and explain what daily living is like for a person and being specific about the substance use and quantities, essentially raising awareness of the damage that can be caused by generalised statements.  

I would like to see social work education being assessed after qualifying and having a probation year, at least, as they do with teaching staff. Being a “good” practitioner doesn’t come about through education alone, and I feel social workers need to be assessed formally in practice for a period of time after qualification to ensure their practice is appropriate, to say the least. I have come across some truly shocking practice from statutory social workers – those who have been in practice for many years, a couple of years and even those who studied alongside me at university and it astounds me to see such differences in practice. I feel the assessed probation period is essential to ensure that Newly-Qualified Social Workers (NQSW) are learning how to be a social worker, in accordance with professional standards, in order to minimise the possibility of learning from the engrained questionable practice that does take place within organisations.

Source:  own contribution (30.8.2017)