On the 3rd December 2019, local authorities in Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell held a Practice Education Conference, which was supported and funded by the West Midlands Teaching Partnership. The conference was facilitated by Siobhan Maclean (Kirwin Maclean Associates). This was an insightful and motivating day for Practice Educators that included 53 Practice Educators from both adults and children’s services.
From the moment, you entered the room there was an atmosphere of excitement regarding the day ahead. Siobhan’s colourful display of theory cards and postcards intrigued practice educators and instantly provided lots of food for thought.
‘Fantastic conference and great venue’.
The day focused on ‘Understanding the Student and Practice Educator Experience’. This covered the following topics:
Why theory is the food of social work practice
Our voices, our experiences - hear about our Practice Educator challenges and successes
Addressing the theory 'fear factor': ideas for discussing theory in supervision
Siobhan utilised ‘analogy’ throughout the sessions and enabled Practice Educators to reflect on how to be creative and fun when supervising students. The day was filled with activities which Practice Educators were eager to try. These involved relating a song to theory and using postcards to reflect people’s feelings and their journey. Siobhan introduced the SHARE model, which was embraced by all.
‘I am new to practice education, so I was gaining a learning experience as to whether I feel confident enough to pursue. I want to look at theories, as mine are from a long time ago, but also to look at SHARED and reflective practice’.
The day also provided an arena for the Practice Educators to share their experiences, feelings and thoughts. This allowed practice educators to hear how others were managing challenges faced within the practice education world.
‘It was refreshing to know my fellow colleagues struggle with the same confusions with theory, methods etc, I feel so much clearer now. Siobhan is brilliant!!’
Practice Educators described the overall event as ‘excellent’ and said their knowledge in Practice Education increased because of the conference. Most importantly, they reflected a motivation to apply their new knowledge and skills into their practice.
‘I will use my new skills and knowledge gained from the session for example I will use the different activities. I will use reflection and not forget the ‘why’.
'I will use SHARE in supervision and support my student to be reflexive’.
‘I will use more visual and auditory tools in working with students to make supervision and reflection more enjoyable’.
The conference highlighted the importance of such events for our Practice Educators. This was the beginning of a great journey ahead and we will continue to network to ensure that Practice Educators in Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell receive the support they require to reach their potential.