SCIE Position paper 2: A framework for supporting and assessing practice learning
By Patricia Kearney
Published: August 2003
In this position paper, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) sets out a skills and qualifications framework that should support practice learning, both in the new degree and across social care organisations. We focus on ways of supporting those whose task it is to assess practice in the workplace ('practice assessors’). We also look at employers’ opportunities for organisational development, improved practice standards and human resource development (HRD).
The paper recommends that a practice learning framework be structure around four stages.
Stage 1 - An experienced worker offers their own practice for shadowing or observation by a student. The worker provides commentary and explanation to help the student learn from what they have seen. The worker can be a social worker or someone in a related area, including a service user in a user-based or user-led organisation.
Stage 2 - An experienced social worker or other social care worker offers the student a supervised practice placement in a setting that does not require legal intervention or statutory risk assessment. This stage might, over time, merge with stage 3, as sufficient support for assessors and relevant qualifications are developed.
Stage 3 - An experienced social worker and practice assessor offer a supervised practice placement in a setting that could include legal intervention and statutory risk assessment. The worker should undertake the agency’s assessment of the student’s performance in practice, including the final assessment of whether the student is ready to practise. With appropriate training, the worker should contribute to the supervision and mentoring of stage 1 and stage 2 workers and to the organisation’s other practice development activities.
Stage 4 - An experienced social worker and practice assessor is responsible for coordinating practice learning and for liaising with higher education institutions. Through appropriate training and experience, this worker should contribute to the supervision and mentoring of stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3 workers and oversee problematic placements.
Learning from practice is an essential feature of a competent social care workforce and the new social work degree places more emphasis than ever on students being able to learn from practice. This means that degree providers and social care employers have a shared interest in developing the workforce.
In this position paper, SCIE sets out a skills and qualifications framework that should support practice learning, in the social work degree and across social care organisations. It also provides a framework for harnessing organisational learning and promoting the 'learning organisation’.
This position paper is intended for those with lead responsibility for practice learning in social care organisations and for those involved in developing their 'learning organisation’.degree.