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'My expectations remain the same. The student has to be competent to practise' : practice assessor perspectives on the new social work degree qualification in England

Moriarty, Jo and MacIntyre, Gillian and Manthorpe, Jill and Crisp, Beth R. and Orme, Joan and Green Lister, Pam and Cavanagh, Kate and Stevens, Martin and Hussein, Shereen and Sharpe, Endellion (2009) 'My expectations remain the same. The student has to be competent to practise' : practice assessor perspectives on the new social work degree qualification in England. British Journal of Social Work, 40 (2). pp. 583-601. ISSN 0045-3102

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Abstract

Research has emphasized the importance of practice learning to social work qualifying education but has tended to feature social work educator and student perspectives more strongly than the views of those responsible for assessing students' practice in the field. This article draws on 195 responses to a postal questionnaire sent at two points in time to practice assessors working with students from nine social work qualifying programmes run in six higher education institutions collected as part of the evaluation of the new social work degree qualification in England. While practice assessors described changes in their role and in the opportunities available to students, they also emphasized continuities, particularly in the skills that they expected students to possess. The key difficulty they identified was the heavy workload resulting from combining their role as practice assessors with their other responsibilities at work. Increases in the number of social work students and changes to the organization of services are likely to create further pressures on practice assessors. Given that these issues are faced by a number of different professions, the article concludes that there is potential for future studies to look at the experiences of practice educators across different professional qualifying programmes.