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She’s perfect – a good social worker. I can ask for help at any time.’ Listening to the voices of young people in developing quality social work placements.

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Presentation on theme: "She’s perfect – a good social worker. I can ask for help at any time.’ Listening to the voices of young people in developing quality social work placements."— Presentation transcript:

1 She’s perfect – a good social worker. I can ask for help at any time.’ Listening to the voices of young people in developing quality social work placements. Su McCaughan, Helen Scholar, Prof Hugh Mclaughlin, Allison Coleman NOPT 2014

2 Aims for today Exploring findings from research project Young peoples’ perspective Social work students’ perspective Project leaders perspective HEI perspective Workshop activity-Practice Educators’ role in developing professional identity

3 Young People’s Initiative Provided by fire brigade, colleges, ‘non-traditional’ social work student placements 16-25 male and female 12 week project programme Residential component Unemployed, socially excluded, ex offenders, care leavers Community project Presentation

4 Study Participants - Total Numbers SSWsProject leaders Service Users S.W. Quali Practice Educators HEI staffTotals Study 1 2008-09 6 6 12 1 4 29 Study 2009-10 12 10 n/a 4 26 Study 3 2010-12 171 139 46 n/a 12 368 Totals 189 155 68 5 16 423

5 Research Strategy Young People – workshops + 3 and 9 monthly follow up telephone interviews Student SWs – electronic survey T1 and T2, 4 Focus groups + follow up telephone interviews Project leaders – electronic survey + follow up interviews HEIs survey Analysis of practice teacher reports Literature review

6 Young People’s Workshops 46 young people participated in 5 sites across UK Feedback on SSWs: Honest, trustworthy, friendly Someone we could talk to Changed my perspective of having a social worker ‘there was nothing bad about our social work student – wouldn’t change a thing’ (Young person workshop)


8 Young People’s Follow-up Telephone interviews at 3 and 9 months Motivated - employed or seeking courses Emphasis on listening to how to improve the support from SSWs Collective voice contributing to Social Work education.

9 Young people 9 month follow up ‘I have contact with the others on Face Book – one is now a Dad ; another was encouraged by the student to be more confidence about his fitness – we went to Catterick for the Team challenge and did the assault course. He then re applied for the army and has now got in. The programme gave him this confidence. I’ve told them all I’ve got into the Specials -they all joke about it but really they are pleased; we have all moved on’. ‘I had problems with my family and some ups and downs so one to one time with her was useful. She was a lot of help when I spoke to her -better than talking to my probation officer. The whole group went to her with their problems’. (Young People Follow up Individual Interviews)

10 Improved wellbeing how the student social worker helped me to stay on Team despite emotional problems to get on with the others despite conflicts to feel better about my body image and healthy eating increase my self esteem and gain confidence to apply for jobs to read and understand as I am dyslexic to explore emotional problems from my childhood to change my views on substance misuse.

11 Listening to young people Timing of placement – SSW should start at recruitment stage and participate in residential More 1-1 time with SSW Better preparation for SSW Confidential space Focus on mental health support Reminders to all staff and members about role of SSW “I would change nothing-she’s perfect- a good social worker. I can ask for help at any time” (Young Person: Focus Group cohort 1)

12 Project Leaders’ Perspective ‘In a team with 15 young people, one-to-one time is difficult, but the student offers this; (s/he) provides specialist support around bereavement, drug and alcohol misuse, housing, financial problems and relationship issues. I consider this at recruitment time – if I have a student we can provide the additional support needed by some of the young people’. (Project Leader interview)

13 HEI perspective ‘Many students have very little experience of direct work with service users or of working as part of a team. These placements provide an opportunity for students to work with young people in a challenging environment and really get to know what a young persons concerns maybe within their life at that time. Good opportunities to work in a team, shape the work of the team, see that their involvement has made a difference, challenge the stereotyped view of a social worker.’

14 Student perspective Initially SSW’s voiced concerns about how the experience would develop their professionalism. Theme emerged of how is social work identified in these sorts of settings and how do students develop professional identity?

15 How is Professional Identity Developed? Adams et al 2006 describes professional identity as ‘attitudes, values, knowledge, beliefs and skills - a collection of traits’ Study by Adams examined professional identity amongst 10 health and social care professions at beginning of their courses. SW had weakest professional identity. Factor influence professional identity: -Levels of previous experience -Existence of role models, both inside and outside work place.

16 Exploring Professional Identity? 1. Electronic surveys - asked Qs at start and end of placement Expectations of SSW role on project The nature and relevance to social work of the learning Opportunities available Reflections on their learning Skills, knowledge and values specific to social work Gave open box to discuss their sense of professional identity. 2. Discussed in focus group 3. Follow up telephone conversations

17 Findings At early stage some identified concerns about whether they would do ‘real’ social work Echoes of ‘what is the relevance of this setting to social work’ / future employability

18 Changing Perspective Survey 2 / telephone interviews SSW identified how they had developed their identity: Proactive in helping on site supervisor to understand social work models and code of practice Discussion about anti-oppressive practice Challenging project leaders about recruitment to include YP from diverse backgrounds or with disabilities One devised an exercise with YP about their views, experiences and stereotypical assumptions about SWs Articulated their values and tested these out

19 Qualitative comments Opportunity to develop professional approach Opportunity to use specific social work skills and knowledge. To practice social work at ‘grass roots’ Re-examined nature of social work Complexity of people’s lives Impact of vulnerability and disadvantage Belief in people’s capacity to change and develop ‘I have become more aware of my own values and what type of social worker I want to be’

20 ‘before the placement I thought social work was going into people’s homes, completing forms and completing tasks etc. It has taught me that SW is about how to make life better and help people to change’ ( SW telephone interview S3 ) Student currently on final statutory placement and felt emphasis was on carrying out tasks, meeting deadlines and doing paperwork. ‘The belief that people can change was less commonly articulated. In charity setting I could ‘go a bit further’ in working with people’.

21 ‘We had the luxury of spending time with young people and building relationships with them…… this is work that many social workers would love to do’ (telephone interview S3)

22 Sources of support in developing professional identity Student social workers Survey 1 104 responses Student social workers Survey 2 155 responses Off-site PE59 (51.8%)77 (49%) University tutor28 ( 24.6)38 (24.5) Project leaders24 (21%)33 (21.3)

23 Your role as Educator Practice placements provide students with their first experiences of being part of a professional group – this is described as the professional’s ‘signature pedagogy’ ( Shulman 2005) This is the form of teaching that prepares students in its ‘fundamental ways of thinking, performing and acting’ ( Wayne et al 2012, p.327)

24 Workshop activity Think of a time when you supported a student in a ‘non- traditional setting’– how did you help the student to make those links with that space and ‘what is social work’ ? In small groups you may want to consider: what aspects do you focus on in supervision have you used any tools or teaching methods how do you involve service users has the PCF / holistic assessment changed your approach how does the relationship between PE and student matter? Feedback on what is your role as PE in constructing professional identity in working with students

25 Research Team Prof Hugh McLaughlin (MMU) Helen Scholar Cath Cairns (study 1) Matt Holden Su McCaughan Allison Coleman (All University of Salford)

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