Development of Physical and Learning Environment for Social Work

In my role as a Practice Supervisor (PS) (Domain A.8), I wanted to ensure that I created a learning environment which would enable the student to have learning opportunities which would enable them to develop their practice and demonstrate their competences as a social worker. Before and during the placement, I considered the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the practice learning; the process of practice learning; preparing for the placement and agreements around practice learning ( (2013; pg. 21). By taking this factors into account enabled me to manager the placement and create an effective learning environment. (Domain A.1)

Before the placement commenced, it was my intention to meet with the Practice Educator (PE) and the student, to introduce myself formally, discuss the induction and learning programme. I wanted to ensure that from the outset of the placement, myself, PE and the student had a close working relationship, open communication and that we worked collaboratively with each other to enhance the learning experience for the student. This meant that myself and the PE had to be clear on what teaching opportunities we were going to provide to the student to avoid repetition and also to ensure that our teaching complement each other. Unfortunately, due to ill health, I was off work for 2 months and missed the first week of the students placement. My intentions to meet with the student and PE before the placement commenced did not happen. The induction plan was not given to the student until her second week of placement and I was unable to attend the Placement Agreement meeting (PAM).

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Due the lack of preparation for the placement, not attending the PAM and other work commitments, the placement did not start as planned. The relationship between myself and the PE was not developed during the placement. I believe that we were both working effectively with the student but not with each other. I am not sure what impact this had on the student has she did not mention anything during the placement or in her evaluation. I did not consider this until the students third supervision with me as I was concentrating on my role as the Team Manager (TM) as well as the PS. On reflection, when I returned from sick leave, I should have arranged the meeting as planned with the PE and the student to ensure that we had clear communication and clarified our roles and responsibilities.

The midpoint view provided us with an opportunity to review the learning programme the opportunities that had been provided to the student, the effectiveness of those opportunities and clarified what teaching opportunities we were going to provide to the student for the remainder of the placement. This enabled for a joint up approach to working with the student and gave better clarity to the student on our roles and responsibilities in the placement. (Domain A.4, A.5 and A.7)

I had already done a lot of planning for the placement however certain documentation which would have allowed for an effective placement from the outset had not been completed. My team had already been briefed that a student would be coming to the team, along with the managers within my service and the service that the student would be also working in. Appropriate Learning opportunities were identified for the student within this team as the student would not be able to obtain the her objective learning through my service (Domain 3). Quote

I had identified an alternative PS within my team as a point of contact in my absence. I had already discussed the induction and learning programme with them which meant that the alternative PS was fully informed of the plans for the student and they were able to attend the PAM on my behalf.

I had planned to provide an induction plan for the first two weeks of placement, in written form. The plan was based upon the organisations induction plan for social students (information on the trust, identified training, policies and procedures). The induction would also include information on the service the student was joining, the practice model, shadowing opportunities within the service as well as other services within the organisation.

I was able to provide the alternative PS with a verbal account of the induction plan for the first week which was not put into written form to the student and not fully exercised. On my return to work, I met with the student and we reflected upon their first week in placement. I felt that the student did not have a great start from the reflections she provided however she verbalised that she was happy with how her first week went. I considered the power dynamic in our relationship as I would be deciding whether or not she passed her placement as well as being the TM of the team. I felt that the student did not feel able to openly say that it was not a good start. I made the decision to extend the induction for a further week to ensure that the student received a thorough induction. (Domain A.2).

Part of the induction was to discuss ground rules and boundaries which was done very briefly as I made the assumption that firstly, this was covered in the PAM and secondly, that this was the student second placement with the organisation and she had an understanding of professional boundaries however the culture within my service is different from her first placement. Issue arose around the students use of her during working hours, professional behaviour when interacting with colleagues and dress code. The ground rules and boundaries should have been kept under review which would have developed a more partnership approach to agreeing ground rules which actually helps in promoting a safe learning environment since the student is clear about expectations (2013: pg. 44).

The ending placement is also important. I competed the Quality Assurance for Practice Learning (QAPL) as well as evaluating the placement with the student using the Share Model (Domain A.6).

Part 2 With close reference to the requirements for Domain B (1-9), the Values for Work Based Assessors and HCPC Standards, and to relevant theory and models of adult learning Explore, reflect on and evaluate the ways in which you enabled a student in your agency to develop a particular aspect of their practice through the process of planning and delivery of a programme of learning.

I enabled my student to develop their knowledge on how legislation and policy links to practice.

The journey began at the start of the placement where the student was provided with opportunities to shadow colleagues and teams, working with specific team members, attend training, spending time with service users and joint working. Hafford-Letchfield, T (2011) stated that social work expertise is often about tacit knowledge that is, we learn (often unconsciously) through experience and observing those around us, as opposed to explicitly being told how to do something or reading about it. This was a key element in the students learning however I missed the opportunity to embed what the student had learnt during this time by allowing the student to reflect on their experiences which would have provided a strong foundation to their learning programme.

In our first supervision, wanted to address the power dynamics between us with actually bring it to the surface. I explained to TB that we are both on a learning journey. TB to become a qualified social worker and me to become a PE. TB welcome this conversation as she felt that we were both helping each other to achieve our goals. I discussed with TB that she would receive direct teaching from myself and the PE. My direct teaching would be in the form of formal and informal supervision, this would be in a safe space which would provide her with information that she would then use in her practice. The teaching in supervision would be more structured and TB would be provided with an agenda in advance. The supervision outside of supervision was envisaged to be more practical based. TB was spoken to about directing her own learning throughout the placement by identifying her own learning needs around this area, to attend supervision with her own agenda, to research and talk to colleagues in readiness to learn. This would allow her to remain in control of her own learning and a key element to bring into her future career as a social worker. (Domain B, B.7 and B.10)

Learning around legislation was throughout the placement and time was taken to embed different parts of legislation and policy rather than provide TB with too much information at one time. This did not mean that we did not touch on areas of law which would arise through casework that was not planned. There were times when areas of law did arise outside of supervision and a brief explanations were given as planned group supervision was going to take place which would look at that area of law in more depth.

In my first supervisory session, I used this time to firstly agree the learning programme and how this would be delivered. Secondly, to gain an better understanding of TBs learning styles by using the Honey and Mumford (1982) questionnaire. Honey and Mumford (2000) questionnaire probes general behavioural tendencies and to allow people to consider how best they learn. TB came out strong as an Activist they enjoy getting involved and they learn by doing and her weaker area was theorist (Kirwan Maclean Associates (2013: pg. 60). (Domain B.3, B.4, B.5)07931 891 757

When working with TB, I used the theory of Experimental Learning which Kolb (1984) states that people need to go through a cycle in order to learn. The model looks at concrete experiences, what is happening in the here and now and encourages learners to reflect and observe these experiences and then form abstract concepts and generalisations such as theories, beliefs, values and policies to plan different approaches, test the implications of concepts in new situations. (Domain B.)

TB was provided with a range of learning opportunities however to compliment her learning styles TB was given more shadowing opportunities, casework and direct work with service users throughout the placement however her journey learning in MASH.

I used Killian and Todnem (1992) model to reflect for action before she started the learning experience. This provided TB with an opportunity to reflect what might happen and how she might deal with it (Kirwan Maclean Associates (2013: pg. 64). TB welcomed this time as she had reflected on issues that she may come across in MASH however she had not thought about how she would deal with them or the impact certain issues could have on her. TB was also able to draw upon other experiences that she had had during the induction programme which led us to Schon (1987) Reflection on action. After the session TB stated that she felt more prepared for the learning experiences and less apprehensive. (Domain B.8 and B.10)

After, TBs first week of shadowing social workers, we used formal supervision for TB to Reflect on Action. TB was asked to concentrate on an experience and I asked her a serious questions using the What? – what are we doing, what have we accomplished, what have we learned?; So what? what difference does/did it make, why should we do it, how is it important, how do we feel about it?; and Now what? . whats next, where do we go from here, what has this prepared us for?. As TB was visual learner together we drew a flow chart of what she had learnt during this time, we then then liked the learning to legislation and how this informs her practice. This was a really good session and TB realised that she had learnt more than she thought just through the shadowing experience. (Domain B.1,B.5, B.9 and B.10)

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