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					The Practice Learning Experience

May we take this opportunity to thank you for providing a practice learning experience for a Lancaster student. We hope the contents of this website will provide you with clear information and guidance in respect of supervising, supporting and assessing your student. These guidance notes should be read in conjunction with the placement guidelines and forms, which contains all the pro-forma that you will need throughout the placement. You can access these via our website. Once you are on the Internet, type in Using the National occupational standards and assessing against Key Roles may be a new experience for you. If your questions are not answered, or you feel the information and guidance is unclear, please do not hesitate to contact your student’s tutor or the practice learning team at the university. If you have any suggestions as to how we can improve this website, please contact me. We sincerely hope that providing a practice learning experience for a Lancaster University student will be a rewarding experience for you and all concerned. Thank you for your support Wendy Tonge Practice learning co-ordinator 01524 594128

PRACTICE LEARNING In order to facilitate the process of professional learning, personal development and assessment, in addition to studying academic subjects, all social work students must spend at least 200 days gaining required experience and learning in practice settings. Each student must have experience:  in at least two practice settings  of statutory social work tasks involving legal interventions  of providing services to at least two user groups (e.g. child care and mental health) During this degree course all students are given the opportunity to gain practical experience. Time is spent gaining community knowledge, shadowing and observing professional workers prior to working in two different agencies with two different user groups to gain practice learning experience. By the end of the course, social work students must demonstrate that they have met the National Occupational Standards for Social Work (see National Occupations Standards with the forms) and demonstrated the ability to work within the Code of Conduct for Social Workers. A copy of this can be found on the GSCC website at At the end of the course, a summary of this evidence will be used to provide the required information to the General Social Care Council for registration purposes.


Students are required to complete a personal profile that includes an up to date curriculum vitae. Once the profile has been completed by the student and handed in, the Practice Learning Co-ordinators then begins the process of locating a suitable practice learning opportunities. Prior to the first placement, all social work students will have had the opportunity to shadow a qualified social worker for a day, visit a voluntary/independent agency and attend court. Students are required to prepare a presentation of their findings which is assessed by the practice learning team to determine fitness to undertake a full time practice learning experience. The profile will be used for this purpose in the first instance and then updated regularly to enable the Practice Learning Co-ordinators to allocate subsequent placements. All social work students must have 2 different practice learning experiences, in 2 different settings, with at least 2 different user groups. Due to the national shortage of placements, it is not always possible to meet students stated preferences. Practice learning opportunities and areas of specialised practice constantly change due to reorganisation, partnership changes, movement of agency staff and changes in legislation and policy. So no guarantees are given that a first or final placement will be found for the student in the chosen areas of practice however, every effort is made to meet individual learning needs. Whilst every effort will be made to provide students with a placement by the published date, occasionally this is not possible. Start dates can be delayed for several reasons e.g. the practice assessor/supervisor may be on holiday or sick, the student may be sick, an appropriate placement has been located but there is another student in the placement. If the start date is delayed, arrangements will be made for students to start the placement at a later date and to meet Assessment Board requirements according to individual circumstances. PRE-PLACEMENT VISITS The chance of success of any practice learning experience is increased by good preparation and planning. A pre-placement meeting is an essential part of the planning. The aim of the meeting is for the student and practice assessor/supervisor to be able to check the viability of the placement and to introduce the student into the agency. The student and practice assessor/supervisor can begin to get to know each other, reduce anxiety and undertake some planning for the practice learning experience. During this initial meeting it is useful for the student and practice assessor to discuss:      Particular interests and experiences The work of the agency The learning opportunities which are and are not available within the agency Identified learning needs of the student Personal perspectives and value base

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Expectations of student and practice assessor in relation to the placement experience particular anxieties or Any special requirements due to race, culture, disability etc. that may have implications for the placement Any concerns about the placement

The student and practice assessor/supervisor should also discuss practicalities such as:             Where the student and practice assessor/supervisor will be situated Who will manage the student on a day to day basis Who will allocate work to the student Resources that will be available to the student Any support networks available to the student, this should include other named members of staff etc. Any in-service training that may be available to the student Travel and transport requirements in placement Who the student will be directly working with Administrative support Any particular organisational customs and practices, statutory functions and accountability including equal opportunities and health and safety policies Times of work Likely workload and practice-related study time

At the end of this meeting both the student and practice assessor/supervisor should be clear about the what, who, when, why, where and how of the planned placement process. The outcome of this meeting should provide the information you will need to complete a Practice Learning Agreement.

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