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Action Learning Sets - Impact on Practice

Ruth King, Social Work Academy Educator/Advisor, Worcestershire County Council

The ASYE programme at Worcestershire County Council has incorporated Action Learning Sets since September 2018.

We gather regular feedback from the NQSWs across both Adult and Children’s services, to help inform and support the development of the ASYE and the Action Learning Sets.

The Action Learning Sets are always preceded by a bite sized learning session which are linked to the Knowledge & Skills Statements for both Adult and Children’s. Often the learning sessions are delivered by Advanced Practitioners across both service areas and/or external stakeholders.

Recent feedback from NQSWs is shared below:

“The ASYE programme has been of great value to me personally and professionally, I feel privileged and assured that I have been supported by a knowledgeable, highly professional, patient and very understanding team. I thoroughly enjoy attending the wide range of regular training sessions which aid the development of my knowledge and skills. I value and take full advantage of ASYE Action Learning sets as I have been able to access group supervision with fellow Newly Qualified Social Workers. Meeting other Social Workers who are completing the ASYE programme has been so beneficial and essential to my learning journey as it provides the opportunity to network, critically reflect, review progression, share up to date research and identify new ways of working with children and families. The Action Learning Sets are always reflective, relaxed and fun. Personally, I feel that attending the sessions are gradually equipping me with all the essential Social Work tools I require before branching out more interdependently in the world of Social Work! Thank you for all of your support!”

Holly Whitmore, NQSW Children's Services

“Attending the Action Learning Sets (ALS) has been a very beneficial experience for me where I have been able to enhance my confidence in practice, professional skills, knowledge and values. The ALS provided a supportive, relaxed and positive learning environment where I felt comfortable to critically reflect on my practice discussing complex cases and receive constructive feedback from fellow newly qualified social workers (NQSWs), practice advisors and advance practitioners, who often deliver training sessions. This has allowed me to develop my knowledge about the relevant laws, policies and procedures to make informed decisions to achieve positive outcomes for the children and families that I support.I have also learnt how to write and use practice tools such as the signs of safety framework, eco-maps, genograms and chronologies to inform practice decisions in the best interest of children. This has further developed my skills to write quality assessments, care-plans and court reports in a child centered manner. In addition, I think it would be good to conduct sessions explaining how to effectively use different tools to carry-out age-appropriate direct work with children so as to obtain their wishes, views and feelings”.

Kevin Braham, NQSW Children's Services

"I have found the action learning sets to be really useful. This was especially at the start of my ASYE when at times it could feel overwhelming, and I was nervous about the unknown and what to expect from being a Newly Qualified Social Worker. However, coming to the Action Learning sets it was nice to be able to discuss with other ASYE our feelings and share our experiences of being out in practice and also what we have found challenging and how we have overcome such challenges. It was also nice to have that consistence within the action learning sets as when you were back in the office it was nice to know who other ASYEs were and able to build those relationships within the office.

I found the sharing of a ‘wicked issue’ to be a really good exercise, this is because it was really useful to be able to discuss within the group a certain situation that you found difficult. I was able to reflect on what my peers were saying about the issue and the questions they were asking me about why I had this wicked issue, and what I was struggling with. This then allowed me to look at things from a different perspective, and go away from the action learning set with a list of tasks that I was going to complete for the next Action Learning Set which hopefully would allow me to overcome some of the issue. It was also really useful to be able to listen to what other issues ASYEs were having and be able to reflect on what could help in that situation. I remember one wicked issue was about reflecting on why as a Newly Qualified Social Worker you may feel that you face barriers when working with other professionals, we reflected on how some of this may be to do with our own professional anxiety and how to over come this.

I feel like attending the Action Learning Sets allowed me to reflect, build on my confidence, build up my own network of other Newly Qualified Social Workers and also provide me to network with different ASYEs from different backgrounds including adults and health. We were also able to listen to guest talks which I found really useful especially one on listening to the voice of the child. I feel that each Action Learning set had a purpose and I always looked forward to attended them, and now I have completed my ASYE will miss attending them as I feel that they were really beneficial."

Jenny Simpson, NQSW, Children's Services

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