The Direct Practice Modules.

The Direct Practice Modules are the integrating modules of the Diploma in Social Work. These modules provide the practice opportunities within which campus-based learning is directly applied, integrated and developed in practice. The overall aim is for students to develop social work practice that is founded on values, carried out in a skilled manner and informed by knowledge, critical analysis and reflection.

The placement lengths are 65 days in Part 1 - Direct Practice1 and 80 days in Part 2- Direct Practice 2. These may be a continuous block or a combination of block and concurrent, ending with a block period. Normally, students on placement would be expected to work the same hours as the members of staff of the agency/unit they are in. Within that, allowance should be made for study time and placement related academic work such as placement reports and the IPS. This means that students would normally be expected to work a 35 hour week or seven hours per day on placement (inclusive of study time and report/IPS writing time but not including lunch or other break times). It is recognised that in some circumstances this may prove difficult for students. In view of this it was agreed that, in exceptional circumstances, a placement day could be six hours minimum or a 30 hour week (not including breaks). In such instances this would have implications for allowance for study time and report/IPS writing. Concurrent placements and the GCU undergraduate route should be calculated pro-rata.

The work undertaken by the student while on placement is aimed at enabling him/her to achieve and evidence competence in practice at DP1 and 2 level. The Consortium accepts that many students require to undertake paid work at the same time as undertaking the DipSW in order to allow them to continue their studies. Whilst recognising that some stduents may undertake work in the placement agency, students are not permitted to accept offers of paid work in the placement setting while they are in the process of undertaking their DP1 or 2 placement because of the possible conflicts of roles.

Legitimate work on placement would include:

Direct Practice 1 provides the opportunity for a student to have the broadest possible experience in terms of setting (residential, day care, fieldwork with more than one client group), sector (statutory, voluntary, independent), varying roles of social workers and methods of approach to the professional task. Learning opportunities will be selected from across a broad and varied range to enable the student to locate the commonalties in concepts and process that apply in all social work settings; to transfer skills and knowledge to new situations and provide a broad-based context within which to begin to integrate campus based curriculum and experiences of social work organisations.

Each student's practice learning opportunities will provide particular experiences of working with a variety of service users and related professions. In demonstrating that students have met each practice requirement over the two placements, students will not necessarily have worked with each of the range of "children, young people, adults, families, carers and groups." (page 24 of the Rules and Requirements for the DipSW, Revised 1995), but will have had the opportunity of working with, for example, groups, if this has been felt necessary or desirable.

Practice opportunities must be sufficiently contrasting for students to gain a range of practice experience and the opportunity to understand and demonstrate transferability of values, skills and knowledge in practice. In particular, all students must demonstrate that they have met the practice requirements of the core competence, Assess and Plan, in work with service users who have significantly different needs and circumstances. The required contrast in practice opportunities should be apparent in the evidence that students provide of having met the practice requirements of the core competences.

Subsequently, part of the Final Report from the Part 1placement will record the contrasting learning opportunities provided and indicate future learning requirements for Part 2.

©West of Scotland Consortium for Education and Training in Social Work 2001.