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Innovative Approaches within Social Work Education

10 Jun 2019 5:30PM

The eighth annual Practice Educator Conference for social workers across the region has been held at University of Suffolk.

The conference, which attracted 120 delegates, is supported by Essex County Council and the Suffolk and Norfolk Teaching Partnership. The event has a history of discussing pertinent issues in social work education and social work more generally. The theme for this year’s conference was the use of reflection and supervision to enhance the teaching and learning for social work students whilst they are undertaking their practice placements.

The keynote speaker, Siobhan Maclean, shared with social work practice educators the innovative and creative approaches she uses to enable students to make connections between their learning in University and what they experience within their social work practice placements.

Siobhan Maclean said, “Today is all about reflecting what we have in common, and often we have more in common that what separates us out. Often you will get Adult Social Workers and Children Social Workers increasingly becoming very separated and this is about bringing us all together and what we share in common, working with students for professional futures.”

Vikki Marcus, Senior Practice Education Lead for the Suffolk and Norfolk Teaching Partnership, said, “The conference follows a collaboration approach bringing together three local authorities- Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex and the University of Suffolk. With Social Work, we are always learning it is always going to be dynamic and sharing best practice, learning new skills and there’s an element of introducing more creativity in social work practice- as Siobhan has been advocating. If we don’t train our students to the best that they can be, we will have a revolving door of social workers who are ‘just good enough’. What we want is social workers who are inspiring to others to ensure the local communities that we work in, have the best services they possibly can have.”

A series of engaging and informative workshops were facilitated in the afternoon by both academics and practitioners from across the region and covered areas such as; How best to capture the voice of people who use services within the teaching and learning of social work students, a model called the What Works Practice Learning Circle which helps students and social workers to identify and celebrate the positive difference they make in their everyday work and the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethic students within Social Work Education.

Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Suffolk, Heidi Dix, said, "Practice Educators are fundamental to the teaching and learning of social work students who often say that that their placements are the most memorable part of their education. This annual conference, which is in its 8th year, provides an opportunity for practice educators to get together to share ideas, make connections, as well as celebrating the important work that they undertake.”

For more on the Social Work degree at the University of Suffolk visit or come along to the Open Event on Saturday 6 July


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