Maria Day, Consultant Social Worker, West Midlands Teaching Partnership
I have been a qualified social worker for 6 years after graduating from Keele University. I initially worked on a safeguarding team in Staffordshire following my final university placement with the same team, where I also completed my ASYE year. A year later I moved within Staffordshire LA to the Family and Friends Team where I assessed and supported kinship carers of looked after children. I also qualified as a Practice Educator and had the pleasure of supporting and overseeing students through their final placements as well as mentoring new social workers on the team.
Throughout my own time as a student, ASYE and qualified social worker I have been lucky enough to have quality training and support from colleagues, managers and trainers/lecturers which gave me the opportunities I needed to grow and develop in my role as a social worker. So, I have tried to replicate this with the students and social workers that I have worked with, as I fully appreciate the need for good experience and training as a necessary factor in the career progression of all social workers.
Therefore, I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with the West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership as a Consultant Social Worker, assigned to the Placements workstream. Working alongside 27 local authorities, trusts and universities whose aim is to ensure the future of good social work training and education for students and qualified social workers alike within the West Midlands region.
I admit that working with so many different partners is not without its challenges due to size and geographical locations of the partners, as well as the diary/workload commitments of partners. However, it is so interesting to see the variations of the different partners, to be able to collate good practice ideas and to be given the opportunity to help formulate regional ways of teaching/training and working which will benefit current and future social workers alike.
Within the Placements workstream, we have developed a Statutory Placement Definition which all partners have agreed to. We have also looked at the value and contribution of Student Units and hope to trial them throughout the partnership at the start of the next academic year. The workstream is now looking at issues around placement arrangements and with the PE & CPD workstream, we are looking at the role and expectations of PEs in their support and guidance of students. The partnership is aiming to develop a more regional approach to expectations of students, PEs and partners to make placements the positive and valuable learning experience it should be for students, PEs and teams alike. Therefore, the outcomes of this workstream will benefit everyone involved!