The Working Agreement.

The clarification of placement expectations through a written Working Agreement is of crucial importance to successful practice learning, by individualising the learning needs of the student. The Working Agreement is the product of discussion and negotiation between the student, practice teacher and tutor and sets out the placement objectives, opportunities, responsibilities and working conditions as well as the framework for reviewing, assessing and evaluating the progress of the placement. The Working Agreement will usually be written by the practice teacher on behalf of the placement team and submitted to the Route within the first 12 placement days.

The establishment of a Working Agreement is a focus for discussion from pre-placement/visit meeting through to the early stages of the placement but it is designed to be flexible enough to incorporate changes in perception of learning needs and learning opportunities throughout the placement.

The broad areas to be covered in every Working Agreement are outlined below but it is essentially an individualising process and the content will vary between settings, students and practice teachers.

1. Terms and Conditions: e.g. placement contexts, dates, hours of work, administrative arrangements, 3 way meetings and expectations of each member of the placement team.

2. Roles Within a Placement: Clarification of the various roles within the placement - practice teacher, student, tutor and where appropriate the supplementary roles in the placement of the link worker, second opinion practice teacher and practice assessor.  Where a practice teacher is absent from the placement, a nominated person must be identified to be accountable for the student's practice.  If the absence extends beyond two weeks, the route should contact the agency placement coordinator to obtain a replacement practice teacher.

3. Placement Outcomes: Clarification of the aims of DPI or DPII for the student taking into account outcome criteria for the placement, the previous experience and needs of the student and the opportunities which the placement setting has to offer. Information should be provided on what is expected of the student in terms of their developing ability to integrate social work values in their practice (including anti-discriminatory values).

4. Placement Learning Opportunities: An outline of placement tasks, how these tasks link to placement outcomes and academic modules including an indication of methods of work involved and total workload.

5. Supervision: An outline of supervision expectations, including details of regularity, method (individual/group) length, teaching and learning methods, and differentiating between the opportunities, expectations and availability of informal versus formal supervision.

6. Direct Observations: An outline of how, when and number of direct observations to be carried out, with comment about "naturalistic" direct observation and systematic planned observation.

7. Assessment: Indication of what methods and sources of assessment (both formative and summative) are to be adopted; if and how other agency members are going to provide feedback about the student's performance; the submission dates for summative assessment tasks (including interim and final reports); submission dates for assessable work required by the route; reports and placement dates for PAP's and PAB's.  The placement provider has the responsibility for ensuring that a written report on the student's competence is made available to the PAP by its due date.

8. Route-based teaching/Workshops/Meetings: What and when these are available to students and/or practice teachers and the expectations of commitment to them.

9. Induction: An outline of how the student will be familiarised with relevant agency policies: Equal Opportunities; Health and Safety; Violence to Staff and other staff safety practices; Complaints Procedures for students (see appendix 13) and service users.

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