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Updates & News

2024 Practice Educators Conference “The Future of Practice Education”

Updated: May 28

Joanna Holmes from the WMSWTP Programme Team reflects on the 2024 Practice Educators conference.

Our 2024 Practice Educator’s Conference, co-hosted with Birmingham City Council, took place on the 24th of April at The Council House in Birmingham. We were delighted to have full attendance with 120 Practice Educators from across the region attending. With a variety of speakers and workshops there was a real buzz around the room as Practice Educators from across the region were able to network with colleagues from outside their organisation. 


Our first speakers of the day were Dr Tarsem Singh Cooner Associate Professor in Social Work & Dr Deborah Hadwin Assistant Professor in Social Work from the University of Birmingham who spoke on ‘Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Practice Education.’ Feedback on the day clearly highlighted how many attendees hadn’t considered this area of Practice Education previously and were going away to really consider not only how to support students who may be using AI but also how as Practice Educators they could ethically use AI. Attendees found the session thought provoking and left the session feeling less fearful of the use of AI. Dr Tarsem Singh Cooner has his own You Tube channel where he has many videos exploring the use of AI in social work education. You can access his channel here and Practice Educators who attended the conference were certainly inspired to go away and access the resources on the channel.  


We are incredibly lucky to have Ruth Hare ‘adult social worker of the year 2023’ in our region. Ruth is also a Practice Educator and gave a presentation on her journey into social work and her inspiring work in the Hoarding Team in Birmingham.  

We are also very thankful for Rebecca Mulvaney from Social Work England for attending the conference and providing updates on their focus for Practice Education over the next year. Rebecca was also able to provide an overview of the national scoping review on Practice Education which Social Work England has recently published. The project was undertaken by the University of East Anglia in partnership with Research in Practice, and the key findings provide evidence for the issues we are working hard to address regionally. Sharing the findings with stake holders and Practice Educators to create change and address the recommendations is the first step for Social Work England and you can find a link to their presentation on the research for Social Work England’s Social Work week here.  


The morning session concluded with a panel of three Students from across the region sharing their experiences of placement from the perspective of different qualifying routes and particularly the critical role a Practice Educator can play in supporting their learning. Feedback from the day has certainly captured how valuable attendees found this session and we want to again thank all the students for their time and involvement in the session. Hearing the voice of the student is crucial in improving experiences for students in our region.  


The afternoon was taken up with a variety of workshops on areas of practice including practice education with apprentices, hybrid working, gaining feedback from People with Lived Experience, non-car driving placements, the Practice Education Professional Standards and writing student reports. All the sessions were well received, and it was great to hear how much knowledge and learning attendees took away from them.  


The day was a packed day of learning from speakers and each other and we wanted to soak up all the knowledge and experience in the room and asked attendees to bring any resources they feel are particularly valuable in their work with students. You can find the collected resources on our website here. We hope all attendees left the day feeling inspired to continue their essential work in supporting students on placements and we are already looking forward to next year's conference …. We hope to see you there!  



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