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Provider responses to COVID-19

Details of adjustments that education providers have made as a result of COVID-19.

Education providers' response to COVID-19: adjustments to courses

Last updated: 23 July 2020

This page is designed to share details of adjustments that education providers have made as a result of COVID-19. The information is intended to highlight the adaptations that individual education providers have made to reflect their own local requirements in order to meet the education and training standards.

This list will be updated when we receive information from providers. We currently have COVID-19 adjustments from: 

COVID-19: adjustments to courses

List of providers who have told us about adjustments to courses they're making in response to the current emergency

Anglia Ruskin University

Adjustments to admissions process
Admission to the social work course has been adapted to become a fully online process. Applicants are sent a short article to read in advance of the interview day. They are required to submit their responses which are then marked by an academic. Following this, the applicants are asked to attend an online meeting with an academic and a service user and carer (SUCI) colleague. The SUCI colleague and academic score the applicant together, using set criteria, and those who successfully pass the written element and the interview are offered a place. We have carried out a number of these online interview days which have been successful.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
BA/MA Social Work:
All initial placement students received communication on 20 March, advising that they were withdrawn from placements with immediate effect and until Sunday 10 May. Final year placement students were asked to meet with their practice educator and discuss if it would be possible to complete placement related activates remotely. All students were asked to complete a mandatory Stage 1 risk assessment form with their placement providers. We have 107 final year students who are within six months of registration, and 117 initial placement students. We are currently reviewing individual student progress to exclude any students who have non-standard progression or cause for concerns

Communication with Placement Providers: Our principal lecturer for practice learning and the placement team are in regular contact with all our placement providers to consider their needs in relation to supporting final year students in practice. Our placement tutors also remain a point of contact in the support of students and practice staff.

Step Up to Social Work PgDip:
Students were notified on 19 March that placements would be suspended immediately, based on guidance from the DfE and the local Step Up partnership. All students completed a placement suspension form detailing their progress to date. All students were at the same placement point (15 days in practice placement 1). Students remain in contact with the local authority link and their practice educator at least once a month. Decisions are made as a partnership and the course lead is in touch with the lead local authority on a weekly basis. There is a communication plan for all students, including contact with peers, module tutors and personal tutors.

Changes to assessments
BA/MA Social Work:
All students have been given a 10 day extension to the submission of theory assessment elements of their course. We are currently reviewing course planners to mitigate impact upon progression and ensure our students complete their intended awards. As directed by ARU's academic registry, up until 10 May 2020, the following temporary changes to assessment have been made to modules with an assessment mode of face-face presentation/exam (written/oral). No changes to learning outcomes have been made and the courses continue to comply with the Social Work England standards.

BA Social Work Modules affected:
MOD2118 Ethics and values due 18 March (use video assessment uploaded by students). MOD003637 ARDP coursework module due 20 March and 3 April. Students can be assessed on coursework and observations so far. MOD002210 Transition into professional practice due 23 March. Assessment based on coursework already completed.

MA Social Work and CPD Modules affected:
MOD003548 Assessing and Managing Risk coursework will be assessed on what students have completed so far.

Step Up to Social Work PgDip:
All assessments for the next modules have been revised to reflect the circumstances and time constraints of the students. This includes reduction of word count and streamlining the number of tasks within an assessment. See below for further explanation of the changed to the course structure.

MOD005136 Working with Families. This assessment was an applied assessment based on practice experience from practice placement 2. Instead, case studies have been devised to enable students to apply the theoretical aspects of practice. They will be able to select from two case studies reflecting different elements of work with children and families.

MOD005137 Advanced Skills for Practice. The group presentation will now be online and the reflective journal will be based on material and subjects provided rather than guest speakers and skill sessions. 

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
BA/MA Social Work:
The remainder of TRI2 teaching went online from the 16 March for social work students. The migration to online teaching was a success, with the social work teams well prepared to moving to an online platform. This is a result of the social work team embracing the online platform Canvas two years ago, making full use of the interactivity and innovation the platform offers. As TRI2 draws to a close, tutorial work is being delivered over platforms such as Zoom, with the ability for staff to read drafts and feedback to students unaffected. In addition to this the further support offered is as follows:

ARU ‘Heron’ web page provides a daily update for all staff and students. Online drop-ins for students are scheduled at different times on a daily basis through either:
Zoom to enable multiple students to join a daily scheduled 30-minute meeting (recording for those students who are unable to attend synchronously or facilitated discussion forum in which questions can be answered in real time (at a designated time) and where responses to queries can be posted asynchronously later.

Personal Development Tutors (PDTs) are monitoring student engagement with Canvas through the Student Engagement Dashboard1. Students not apparently engaging with Canvas will be contacted to ask how they are doing and if they need help to access resources. PDTs are keeping a record of interactions (e.g. who and when) via AskARU (TOPDesk2).

The team are working on relevant online theory to complete to support students who have been removed from their placements with their studies and pending assessments.

Step Up to Social Work PgDip:
In addition to the wider university material available to students about moving to an online model of teaching, the course team have provided additional support to help students with the transition to using new technology. These changes enable us to meet the qualifying education training standards, whilst adapting to the challenging environment. The course will be changing in the following ways:

Teaching planned for later in the academic year will be brought forward and delivered during May to August. Teaching has been condensed into patterns across this period. There will be two live sessions, two online sessions and two self-directed sessions each week. There will also be three hours of live ‘clarification tutorials’ per week, where students can drop in to go over anything they need further support with, or want to discuss further.

We are using a combination of online platforms including Canvas, Blue Button, Teams and Zoom to do this. In addition, we are using applications recommended by our skilled learning technologist – for example Ed Puzzle, Padlet, Mentimeter, TedEd and Thinglink. Tutorials and teaching times are varied to try to meet the needs of the group. For example some sessions are early evening. Assessment points for MOD005136 and MOD005137 are in July and August.

The plan is that all university assessment is completed before the resumption of placement (or as near as possible). This allows space for reassessment and accommodates students who have caring responsibilities. If it is possible for students to return to placement in Aug/Sept, they will complete practice placement 1 (MOD005135) have a short break and start practice placement 2 (MOD005138) immediately.

Students will come into university once a month to do some of the skills sessions we are unable to provide online. The end date of the course will then depend on when placements start again. We are mindful that funding is only available for 14 months. We are in discussion as a partnership about contingency planning, and the course leader has regular contact with the national Step Up HEI network, JUCSWEC and DfE.

University of Bath

Adjustments to admissions process
Written test sent to applicants on the morning of the interview, with responses being required after a set period. Interviews conducted via Skype.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
We have continued to keep students on placement, with most students adopting the working practices of other social workers in the agency. Most students are working from home with some attending agencies for duty shifts. Our professional practice tutor for social work is making adjustments to placements on a case by case basis. Where students are not able to complete the normal number of days in placement, the professional practice tutor provides alternative work (where practice assessors agree that this will enable students to meet the professionals standards).

Changes to assessments
Exam assessments have been replaced by coursework. The university has moved the submission dates for students back by two weeks.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Teaching is delivered online. Most lecturers have delivered online lectures 'live' via meeting platforms. Some lectures are posted with audio recorded against the slides.

University of Bedfordshire

Adjustments to admissions process
We have made the move to remote interviews. The first batch of remote interviews took place via Skype and applicants were interviewed by two academic members of staff. We have however reviewed this and, due to technology difficulties experienced by some, we will be moving to our internal university online blackboard collaborate tool for future interviews. This will enable us to keep our service user and practitioner input as interview panel members. Panel members and applicants will be sent a secure link to access the interview panel. A written tests is set and submitted online before the interview. Interviewers are now asking additional questions about the written tests to assess the authenticity and integrity of the content.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
We have undertaken a review of all placements for our BSc and MSc students and worked in partnership with placement providers to ascertain the feasibility of placements continuing. The majority of our students remain on placement and will complete their full placement days.

We have devised a COVID-19 placement protocol that permits a reduction in placement days only for students whose placement providers have stopped the placement due to the impact of COVID-19, and where all alternative placements and/or learning opportunities have been exhausted. In these circumstances, which have been rare (applying only to three students) we have permitted a reduction to a minimum of 55 days for 70 day placements and a minimum of 80 days for 100 day placements, providing students have undertaken sufficient work to provide good and varied evidence across the PCF domains and professional standards.

As a result, one of our 70 day placement students has completed at 63 days and two of our 100 day placement students have completed at 85 days. We have a dedicated practice learning team who has reviewed the workbook of students whose placements were stopped to ensure that standards are met and to advise practice educators on the setting of additional work where necessary. Our COVID-19 protocol does not permit students to pass placements if they have not met the required professional standard.

We have worked in partnership with practice educators and placement providers to explore innovative and creative remote learning opportunities for students. Our team of practice educators have been exceptionally creative and some of the remote and alternative learning opportunities that our students are engaged in include:

  • Undertaking remote welfare checks
  • Working on agency helplines
  • Undertaking remote projects
  • Carrying out remote advocacy support
  • Chairing remote meetings
  • Doorstep visits
  • Devising directories for available services
  • Direct Observations via skype and other forums
  • Interviewing peers via skype to demonstrate skills
  • Detailed Case Study analysis
  • Working with service users engaged with the course to set up projects
  • Online blogs
  • Online supervision and discussions

Step Up to Social Work:

We run two Step Up courses at the University of Bedfordshire. Our Step Up students were due to start their 70 day placements in April 2020. They did not go out on placement in accordance with the guidance received by Social Work England and the DfE at that time. We are in the process of devising a plan of action to enable our Step Up students to complete by March 2021 as scheduled. These plans will include a variation to the number of placement days, remote projects and virtual learning.

Changes to assessments
The university extended all assignment deadlines by two weeks. Assessments involving presentations and vivas will take place remotely via Collaborate.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All teaching went online on 23 March 2020. We are using a range of online learning tools and platforms including:

  • Collaborate
  • Discussion Boards
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Videos made by staff members illustrating good practice
  • Online seminar groups
  • Online case studies

Birmingham City University 

Adjustments to admissions process
The admissions process has been adjusted as follows:

  • An extended interview is now taking place with lengthier discussion instead of the face-to-face group work.
  • An academic and expert by experience (service user or carer) continue to be present on the panels.
  • A written exercise continues to be set, with a timed period during which they must submit this.

These processes are being kept under review should we need to make adjustments or continue into the next academic year.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
We have reviewed the practice-based learning, in line with Social Work England's standards and in liaison with the West Midlands Teaching Partnership, to focus on assessing against the PCF and learning outcomes for the modules. This means that we are not holding to sign off at 100 days for final year placements, but all will have been signed off at completing 80 days on placement or specific projects.

Daily placement reviews are taking place with data logged to monitor and support students and placement providers. This is under review for the 70 day placements currently as the majority are suspended but in contact with agencies.

Changes to assessments
Law exam further assessment attempts will now be set as follows:
A timed online written examination. The paper will be issued and a timed period confirmed for submission of the completed paper. This will replace the live in person examination on-site. The examination has always been open book whilst is congruent with this approach.

Critical reflective practice:
Live, in person presentations and resits will now be recorded and uploaded for marking.

Core Skills for practice:
This is ordinarily a live, in person scenario where the skills of the student are observed as they meet with a service user after reviewing a case scenario. This has now been changed to a live interview with a service user on Microsoft Teams which will be observed and marked accordingly. This will enable the student to demonstrate the learning outcomes in a different way and include current practice and approaches as many social workers in practice are currently assessing and meeting online. Recording using Microsoft Teams enables review by existing quality processes including the external examiner.

Safeguarding Law and Policy:
Core presentation resits will also take place via Microsoft teams, working with service user and care panel member. This replaces the face-to-face, in person assessment.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All teaching and learning support has moved to online delivery, phone and video support. Online delivery and remote learning opportunities are now in place until the end of academic year 2020. Contingency planning for the next academic year is ongoing with support for remote learning and delivery to be available until December 2020.

University of Birmingham

Adjustments to admissions process

We have made the following adjustments to our admissions process:

  • Interviews and written tests are now undertaken virtually
  • Service users and carers are no longer able to be 'present' at interviews, but are still involved through developing a range of case studies for applicant reflection.

Adjustments to practice-based learning

We have made the following adjustments to our practice learning processes:

  • Existing placements were ‘paused’ on 24 March 2020
  • All future placements have been postponed until further notice

Discussions around plans for resuming placements will be held regionally with teaching partnership colleagues.

Changes to assessments

We have made the following adjustments to our assessment processes:

  • We have made adjustments to Portfolio requirements for students who were on placement in March, in line with regional agreements
  • We have agreed alternatives to current exam-based assessments, and adopted a university-wide reduction in assessment load for all students
  • We are introducing bridging coursework to prepare continuing students for returning to study
  • We have agreed a fixed extension to all deadlines, and increased flexibility around extension requests

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity

We have made the following adjustments to our teaching and learning activities:

  • All teaching is now being delivered on line, and our service user carer and practitioner contributors are providing virtual input
  • There has been a restructuring of some academic timetables to bring forward teaching from next semester

Bournemouth University

Adjustments to admissions process
We have continued to interview, but have moved this to a virtual format. We have kept key elements of the interview process which candidates would usually experience at an interview day. The interviews are carried out across the academic team and involves our admissions tutor. We have considered the impact of students deferring their studies in light of COVID-19 as this may well impact numbers deciding to take up their place this year. At present, this is not a significant concern.

Adjustments to practice-based learning

1. Number of days

We have amended the number of practice learning days for both first and final placements (in line with Reg guidance) providing the evidence is met commensurate to the level of placement. For first and final placements we interpreted the "substantial" proportion of placement as 50 and 75 days respectively instead of the usual 70 and 100 days. Some students have opted to remain in placement through choice beyond the minimum, to further develop the range of their experience.

2. Students continued placements

Approximately 80% of our students were able to continue in placement throughout the crisis and we worked closely with individual settings to make adjustments to ways of working. At the point of nearing completion for this academic year, 96% of our final placement students will have completed for July exam board as we have been able to work with individuals to enable them to return to paused placements.

3. Developed guidance and disseminated to partners

We issued guidance on acceptable adjustments to the assessment process (direct observation and amended some portfolio elements to take account of different ways of working).

4. Flexibility in submission dates

5. Online support and remote support through unit leads, and our practice tutors.

6. Future planning for next cohorts as they will be impacted by the restricted ways of working.

Changes to assessments

1. We have amended assignment briefs for some aspects of the portfolio (reducing number of direct observations for final placement to 2 rather than 3/altering wording on assignment brief to reflect changes to ways of working).

2. Arrangements for submissions: extensions to reflect a range of circumstances taking into account the range of challenges our students face in balancing study/placement/work/life balance. 

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Delivery of online support and individual contacts with our students. Materials on virtual learning environment adapted. Individualised and group support provided. 

Bradford, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
We have adjusted exams to written assignments and provided ‘standard’ two-week extensions for assignments. Working with the teaching partnership, we have established ‘placement panels’ for students who were recently on placement to examine each student and make decisions on their profession i.e. pass, pass with conditions, extra inputs needed etc. For students who have not yet started their placements, we are moving modules around to allow students to have their placements immediately after next Christmas, so they can finish their first placements and immediately start their second placements. This will delay their graduations but hopefully only by a few weeks or months.

The key principles we have adopted are:

  • Communication (with students)
  • Joint planning and action
  • Flexibility

Adjustments to practice-based learning
We have adjusted the learning to take into account experiences and reflections from wider influences as opposed to the normal curriculum.

Changes to assessments
We have changed exams to written assignments and presentations to individual submissions.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Lectures and individual tutorials are online via CANVAS.

Brighton, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
Our admissions criteria are unaltered but we've had to change some aspects of the admissions process because face-to-face admissions days are not currently possible. Applicants are now interviewed online, for example via Skype or Microsoft Teams, by a member of the academic team. An additional question has been added to the interview schedule to capture the applicant's sense of self as a participant in teams/groups. This is because the usual group assessment activity is no longer taking place. Applicants are provided with the usual written test, but instead of completing it at the university, applicants receive the test online and must submit it within a given time frame. Applicants continue to receive full information about their selected course when offered an interview. Admissions tutors for qualifying programmes provide additional information requested by applicants, given that answers cannot be given to individual queries at an admissions day event.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
For final placement students, the situation is as follows:

An agreement was reached with local authority providers that students could remain in placement, subject to a series of criteria being met. These included: receiving clear evidence of a risk assessment having been undertaken and all parties (including the student and the practice educator) agreeing to the plan. Some students have been able to continue in the placement setting in a relatively 'unaltered' way.  For others, the nature of the tasks being undertaken (and how/where this happens) have changed somewhat. In all cases, practice educators must be confident that the placement will continue to offer opportunities in line with the expectations of the PCF. Whilst some final year students have met all expectations within a slightly reduced number of placement days, the majority have continued to complete 100 days.

As portfolios are submitted online (via the Mahara system) the usual scrutiny will take place in the practice assessment panel, though this will be a virtual panel rather than a physical meeting. The panel will make recommendations to the exam board in the usual way.

All first placements were paused on or before a specific date, when students had typically completed around 40 to 50 placement days. This allowed most students the opportunity to pull together what evidence they could and finalise/handover any pieces of work. In many cases, working remotely from the placement setting before placement paused. Final decisions are yet to be made as to 'what next' in relation to these students. A practice assessment panel will scrutinise available evidence and recommendations and make recommendations to the board in the usual way. It may be that some students will be deemed to have met the requirements of Placement 1, and some may be able to complete the usual number of days (70) before the start of the next academic year. However, we will be discussing possibilities with placement providers, which could include providing additional practice learning days in the final year of the course. Given the demands on universities and local authorities/other social care providers at present, this is work in progress.

Changes to assessments
Academic standards and expectations will remain unaltered. However, some deadlines have been moved back and various announcements have been made to students, for example on blanket mitigation in acknowledgement of the multiple pressures on them and the possibility of seeking further extensions where appropriate. A small number of assessment tasks which would have been face-to-face (presentations and vivas) have been amended, so they can be delivered and assessed online. Overall, however, our assessment tasks and expectations will remain unaltered.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Lectures, seminars and group/individual tutorials have been, and will continue to be, delivered via Microsoft Teams. The impact on student learning has been limited as much as possible. Additional resources and links are being posted on our virtual learning environment to support student learning from home. Presentations are being recorded and made available for future reference.

Brunel University London

Adjustments to admissions process
We have moved our admissions process online due to social distancing and it's now also condensed. Few, if any, of our experts by experience group are able to participate in online formats.

The process begins with our central admissions office checking applicants who meet our entry criteria (which are similar to other HEI criteria). We then allocate the applicant to a member of staff who will arrange a time for an exam and interview. At the time agreed, the member of staff sends an exam paper to the student. The student then has one hour to respond to the questions. One question requires the applicant to reflect on their previous experience, the other to examine their understanding of a short quote from an academic text. Those who pass the exam are then interviewed by the member of staff who makes a recommendation to the admissions tutor and then these are discussed.

This interim process will be reviewed periodically and updated, as we are able to, while social distancing remains in place.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
The social work team at Brunel University London has addressed the current MA2 (100 day) placement situation by designing a creative, flexible approach that meets social work training standards/Social Work England guidelines and ensures that our students are:

  • rigorously assessed
  • ready for practice
  • well prepared
  • not disadvantaged for forthcoming ASYE recruitment

We recognised that we could not take a blanket approach as the MA2 students were all at different stages of progression. These are the steps we took:

  1. Collated a range of information on each MA2 student in relation to their progress on placement, verified by the practice educator
  2. Devised clear and fair criteria to meet the satisfactory standards of assessment
  3. Assessed each student's progress on placement against the standards of (2) and devised individual progress plans for each student

The categories and criteria are as such:

Category 1
80+ days of completed placement, a minimum of 2 direct observations of practice with direct, face-to-face service user contact. All PCFs/SOPs/Values met and no outstanding concerns = student able to progress with a recommended as a pass with PE's verification.

Category 2
70-80 days of completed placement, a minimum of 2 direct observations of practice with direct, face-to-face service user contact. No concerns over the student's practice and a few outstanding PCFS/SOPs/Values to be evidenced. Invited to plan an action plan of activities to meet these outstanding standards and to cover the number of days of placement to meet the 80 day threshold with their academic tutor, practice tutor, practice educator (and practice supervisor). A spreadsheet of relevant activities has been compiled by the social work team that map across the PCFs/SOPs/Values, some are relevant to the current COVID-19 situation. This spreadsheet can be used or other relevant activities related to the placement or placement colleagues can be designed. The action plan of activities must be clearly designed, monitored and assessed by the practice educator, practice tutor, academic tutor and the practice learning coordinator to ensure the activities meet the requirements of the outstanding standards and number of days. The student is required to keep a clear log of this and submit this work within their final placement portfolio and index evidence grid. The action plan of activities can also be used by the practice educator as evidence if they are undertaking the PEPs training course. If the activity plan and standards are achieved/met, the placement can proceed with a recommended pass. This action plan will be formally recorded and used in future references.

Category 3
65-70 days of completed placement, a minimum of 2 direct observations of practice with direct, face-to-face service user contact. No concerns over the student's practice and a few outstanding PCFs/SOPs/Values to be evidenced. Progression towards an action plan of activities will be decided by the social work team once their placement paper work has been looked at, for example: midway reports, direct observations, index of evidence grid and reflective logs. Once given the go ahead, they progress to category 2, above.

Category 4
Under 65 days of placement and or do not meet the direct observation requirements. Many outstanding PCFs/SOPs/Values and or concerns over their progression. These students will need to return to placement to complete the 100 days and usual requirements.

We later added that where students were above the 65 days and only had one direct observation of practice (DOP) with face-to-face contact, the social work team decided that other professional feedback or informal observations of practice could retrospectively be translated to a DOP. This meant that the student had to have planned and led the practice, received feedback and learning, and retrospectively completed the DOP proforma with in-depth detail of planning, intervention, analysis, critical reflection and learning. This would then be assessed in the normal way, as evidence by the practice educator, practice tutor and practice learning coordinator, to ensure this met the rigorous standards of a DOP before a student could progress to one of the categories 1,2,3.

Changes to assessments
The change to assessments is basically university-driven. This full information is available here.

Exams have been changed to online timed assessments using Wiseflow, our online submission system. Although students will not be able to do resits if they simply do not like their mark, the boards will be looking closely at extenuating circumstances. Students can decide whether they take some or all their exams in April/May or in August, without needing to submit extenuating circumstances. We are also not asking students to let us know their intentions in advance, as some other institutions are, thereby giving students flexibility in deciding what is right for them without any pressure.

Students who sit their exams and fail will automatically be given a second, uncapped attempt in August. Not all institutions are offering another opportunity for students to complete their assessments in August, but we believe it is important to allow students another opportunity in what will hopefully be much improved circumstances.

Enhanced scrutiny of individual students’ performance by exam boards, which include external examiners (from another university) and vice-chancellor’s representatives. This will allow us to determine if performance in the exams, and other assessments submitted after 15 March, is out of line with assessments completed up until that time, and help identify students who may not have failed, but performed worse than expected, perhaps because they have faced particular challenges in revising and taking exams due to their living arrangements and other circumstances.

The enhanced scrutiny of individual students’ performance by exam boards will help us identify students who may not have failed, but performed worse than expected, for example below their grade average. Exam boards will use their experience and the powers granted them under Brunel’s emergency regulations to support students to complete or progress, for example by giving students a further uncapped attempt ( e.g. for a 100% exam assessment) or discounting the mark entirely (e.g. for a 20% exam assessment). 

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All our remaining teaching has moved online. Our classes are being conducted in a couple of formats, either with Zoom, which most instructors find easy to use, or through Blackboard Collaborate housed within our Blackboard Learn online format which is already in place for course materials.

Brunel has decided to use the current time to keep learning, going through term 3 of Year 1, from the week of 11 May to 3 August. There will be two modules taught in this term and they will be taught in a combination of pre-recorded lectures followed by live online seminars. There will be an assignment to hand in week of 17 August 2020 which will be marked and assessed in time for the September exam board to progress to Year 2. It is important to mention that these two modules are typically taught to MA2s, so Year 2 term one. This will relieve the teaching load for fall term and allow more space to complete 70 day placements in the beginning of Year 2 and start the 100 day placement. Since these modules will be taught online, we received approval from our university to provide these without any additional fees from students.

Buckinghamshire New University

Adjustments to admissions process
We would normally invite students for a selection day which would consist of a written test, group discussion and panel interview. We are in the process of finalising logistics for some of these activities to take place online. These will be finalised by the end of this week. But we will have panel interviews, including service users (depending on their access to reliable WiFi), via platforms such as Skype and Zoom. The group discussion will also take place via an online platform. The written test is a key aspect of the recruitment process, ensuring that candidates engage with the written test with no support from others. Although this will be resource intensive for us, we envisage an invigilated completion of the written test online.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
The final placement students for both BSc and MSc programmes had completed 80 days or more in their placements before the COVID-19 situation. If the placement was not affected by COVID-19, the final days of the placement would have been devoted to closing cases and getting their portfolio ready. As such, we decided to stop placements and ask students to complete closure of cases and work on their portfolio by working remotely.

The students completing their first placement were at about their midway point. All placements were suspended and days will be banked for when they return to the same or a different placement. While this is not ideal in terms of providing a coherent and continuous learning experience, due to the break in placement, this would be the best option in the current scenario. However, at the start of the remainder of the placement we will ask students to complete a reflective account identifying how they would ensure a consistent and cohesive learning experience supported by their practice educator.

Changes to assessments
Most assessments remain the same, but we have adjusted some deadlines in view of many students having increased child care and caring responsibilities. The only assessment that has changed is the law exam for PGDip Social Work (Step Up) students and Social Work Degree Apprenticeship students. The exam is being substituted by an assessment ensuring the learning outcomes are all covered.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Delivery of teaching has moved online, using a feature within our current Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Blackboard Collaborate where all students can virtually attend sessions as they would physically in the classroom. This has worked very well and even normally quieter students feel confident asking questions via the live chat feature. Moving online has not affected the quality of interaction between students and between students and lecturers.

Central Lancashire, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
Online interviews and assessments.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Placements for stage 1 students initially suspended. They are now being reinstated and we are looking at reducing placements to 60 to 80 days, providing that all PCF domain areas are met. Apprentices are undertaking placements in work settings and will complete a further 30 days in a new setting once pressures are lifted. We are also looking at moving start dates of placements around to take pressure off placement providers.

Changes to assessments
Some group presentations are being moved online or changed to be individual reflections on the group work process.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All lectures will move online in semester 1. We will (restrictions permitting) move to small group provision and some online seminars. We will also increase the level of webinars for students to raise issues.


Chester, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
The remaining interviews for BA Social Work have been completed via Skype or telephone. The group interview has not been able to take place and but we have still been able to facilitate the written test with applicants emailing their responses on the day of the interview. Interviews for the MA Social Work starting in Jan 2021 will begin in July 2020 and will follow the same format if the university remains closed.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
In collaboration with other HEIs in the social work teaching partnership, an alternative practice learning record has been devised allowing for students to complete up to 30 days in a relevant health/social care setting. This is being used to either help students complete their qualification, for those nearing end of placement before suspension, or to count towards placement days at a time when placements can resume. The evidence provided by the student is assessed by a university tutor (PEPS 2 qualified at Chester) at 10, 20 and 30 days against relevant PCF domains.

Changes to assessments
It is our intention (still to be finalised) to complete the readiness for direct practice role play assessments via Microsoft Teams. The Law exams have been replaced by online exams.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Tutors are using a variety of methods to undertake teaching and learning online such as recorded lectures, online tutorials and discussion boards.

City College Norwich

Adjustments to admissions process
We are in discussions the local authority who recruit and employ all our apprentices about moving the dates of recruitment, including selection days, to early autumn. However, this might not be necessary.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Our students are all in the first year of their apprenticeship and were settled in their first rotations prior to COVID-19. Most apprentices were able to continue in their work setting and adjust their ways of working in line with their teams. All apprentices have been employees of the local authority for at least two years before starting the course. A small number of apprentices have been redeployed temporarily by the local authority into work settings where they could continue to work and learn. This has been apprentice-led and negotiated with their work place mentors, managers and the course leader.

We are in discussions with the local authority about delaying the next work rotation (which coincides with the start of an assessed period of practice) from July to September.

Changes to assessments
As an HEI, we have agreed with our awarding body some changes to assessments (such as exam arrangements). All students have an automatic two-week extension if they need it and the mitigating circumstances have been adjusted to allow for COVID-19 reasons where there may be minimal evidence.

In the upcoming term, we have one assessment, a group presentation, which needed adjusting. The assignment brief has been adjusted to provide flexibility to allow for the unreliability of internet connections, apprentices' health needs, or work/caring commitments. For example, the presentation may be delivered live or virtually (via Collaborate). As a back-up, apprentices are being asked to pre-record their presentations. The apprentices will have the opportunity to practice presenting using Collaborate.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All teaching and learning activities are being converted to virtual learning. Some of our apprentices have needed to change their study/college day and others are juggling home-schooling or sharing work/study space. All apprentices had a phone tutorial where we discussed their learning needs and any barriers they are facing before we planned the teaching. The team has worked very hard to adapt all the resources so that teaching is accessible and flexible, so all apprentices have equal opportunities to participate and learn.

We have created a structure across the modules to provide some consistency. Each 3 hour session has been broken into 3 hour long parts.

  1. Guided individual activities that can be done any time before the session such as reading, Powerpoint, or activity
  2. Live Collaborate virtual classroom that builds on the preparation activities. This allows for large and small group discussions, lecturers delivering Powerpoints, or interactive teaching. These sessions are recorded so any apprentices who cannot login can catch up.
  3. Small group activities that extend the topic and check for learning. The apprentices have been split into study-buddy groups of 4 which means they can mutually support and include each other and undertake these activities using virtual means at a time that works best for them.

Each week, the course leader holds a Collaborate 'check in' session where any concerns or questions can be addressed, information shared, and supporting teaching can be delivered, for example how to complete the practice learning assessment document.

The apprentices all have Twitter accounts and have been invited to join Twitter chats. Twitter has been used as a way of sharing up-to-date information such as government guidelines or BASW statements. The apprentices can engage with practitioners, other students and academics from outside their work/college setting. The apprentices will be supported to match their increased digital activity to the apprenticeship standards.

Padlet pages have been created to provide a rich interactive way of sharing information, guiding learning and working collaboratively. Each term usually starts with a 'block week'. It was decided that this was too intensive in the circumstances so the core activities are being converted into Padlets where apprentices can work through the information and activities at their own pace. They can upload onto the Padlets and engage collaboratively.

The local authority has been involved in any changes and where possible the college has worked around their needs, in recognition of the exceptional pressures they are under.

Cumbria, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
Interviews and written exercises are being carried out over Skype rather than in person.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Students who had less than 20 days left on their placement have been allowed to finish their placement provided they were still able to carry out tasks relevant to their learning, such as telephone contact with service users and report writing and completing documentation. All other students have either had their placement paused or not started.

For our MA students, we're bringing forward two modules which they would have undertaken later in the programme. We are going to investigate, with guidance from and consultation with Social Work England, whether it would be possible for students to combine their first and second placements, if that should be in one agency or two and whether there should be two stages of assessment or one. 

Changes to assessments
Essay based assignments are unaffected. However, assignments which involve PowerPoint presentations are being done by the student submitting the PowerPoint and a transcript. It may be that there are other assignments which have to be modified and we will deal with these issues as they come along.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Teaching is being delivered using a variety of technologies to replace face-to-face teaching. We are using narrated PowerPoints to substitute lectures and we are carrying out seminars on Skype. We are also making greater use of discussion boards and email/phone contact with students.

East Anglia, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
We are currently interviewing remotely, so have adapted our group activity in order to enable candidates to undertake the task individually whilst ensuring we capture their critical thinking about the questions posed. The interviews are currently being conducted by two members of academic staff and discussed with the admissions director. Then, when appropriate, with the director of the programme.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
For students who have had to leave their first placement at the midway point, we have asked them to spend time thinking, and where possible, discussing with their PEs any additional evidence needed for their report to support their level attainment in terms of the professional standards. We have asked PEs and OSSs if there are any examples of practice that they have observed the student undertaking which could retrospectively form another observation of practice. We have asked students to think of issues like the impact of COVID-19 on service users and organisations and reflect on this in additional RPAs. We have also asked students to write the 2500 reflective essay they would normally write at the final report stage. We have asked PEs to give clear action plans for the final placement to guide where students need to gain additional experience and skill. We will then assess each student on these additional factors and the progress they have made to the midway point to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to continue to the final placement. 

Changes to assessments
See above.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
We are currently planning to continue to teach online with a series of lectures and interactive workshops. For the new academic year, we are planning to continue this and to do some classroom based teaching, COVID-19 lockdown situation permitting. We are in discussions regarding how to involve service users, carers and practitioners in this as they are, and always have been, an integral part of our teaching team.


Adjustments to admissions process
We’ve run the final 7 assessment centres online, making appropriate adjustments to the assessments to ensure an equivalent, robust hiring decision is made for each candidate. As a result, assessment centres now take 2 half days for applicants and the role play is no longer face-to-face but a phone call in keeping with much of a social workers role.

There have been no changes to our eligibility requirements. However, we are checking electronic copies of official certificates for qualifications, submitted via email. For applicants who are experiencing delays obtaining their certificate from the exam board, we are exceptionally accepting letters from the boards, letters from schools along with provisional statements.

All official/hard copy certificates must still be seen at a later stage and our offer letter email has been updated to confirm this. Applicants who have provided documents via non-standard means have had a flag placed on their record in order to identify them when required. We are exploring how final year students will be able to evidence their results if there are any delays to their final assessments or the publishing of results, which may involve seeking direct confirmation from the HEI. We are also aware that there may be delays to prospective students obtaining health forms that need to be signed by their GP, which is understandably a low priority for GP surgeries in the circumstances.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
We are encouraging students to follow their local authority approach, advocating that they adhere to social distancing guidance and working from home wherever reasonably possible.

We have agreed to consider students working in residential settings, proposals for which are being reviewed on a case by case basis, taking into account the training and risk mitigation proposed by the local authority and residential settings involved.

We are encouraging participants to continue logging their work to contribute towards their practice learning portfolio and have produced some guidance to help participants demonstrate reflective learning in the context of reduced direct work with children and families during this period. Similar guidance is soon to be published in respect of the contrasting learning experience and will focus on opportunities to complete the contrasting learning experience work remotely, where possible, and to complete additional reflective learning activities where this is impossible.

We have also introduced an online resource hub in addition to our standard learning resources, including additional readings, tasks and a COVID-19 innovative social work practice discussion board for participants, to aid, bolster and support learning during these changing times.

Changes to assessments
We have introduced extensions to upcoming assignments to allow students more time to complete their assessments. We have also adapted some assessments that typically include direct work with children and families to ensure that those who have limited or no opportunities to complete interventions with children and families can focus instead on planned interventions and hypothetical outcomes, as well as reflective pieces on incomplete interventions that were interrupted by lockdown.

We have reduced the number of direct observations of practice by 1, to 6 across the qualifying year; made adjustments to allow this to take place via video call or telephone call, depending on how the direct work is taking place and varied the types of practice scenarios that can be observed for assessment.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All teaching has been delivered online since social distancing was introduced through a series of online learning approaches including live lectures, recorded lectures, interactive seminar sessions and video-conference case-based sessions. We are adapting all of the teaching content for our 5-week summer school to be delivered online from July.


Gloucestershire, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
The following adjustments have been made:

  • All interviews take place online
  • Applicants are interviewed by the programme admissions tutor and course leader, rather than a panel
  • Group discussion has been removed and applicants complete a presentation, a written task and answer individual questions

Adjustments to practice-based learning
We have made the following adjustments in line with guidance from PHE and Social Work England.

BSc Social Work, Level 4 & Level 5: no changes

BSc Social Work, L6 100 day placement & MA Social Work Year 2: All students have remained in placement where it is safe for them to do so. If a student, or a member of their family who they live with, falls into a high risk group then the student has the option to pause the placement and bank the days. The student will complete their placement days when it is safe and appropriate for them to do so.

All students are working remotely and will only attend the office a maximum of two days a week.

The number of days to complete has been reduced from 100 to 70. This decision was made with our placement providers. At 70 days, students will provide the evidence that they have met the PCF's and are working to a standard expected. Practice educators will assess the evidence and make a judgement based on the evidence provided as to whether or not the student has passed. If further evidence is required then a plan will be put in place to identify how the student will meet the outstanding PCF's.

All students will complete a comprehensive PCF table evidencing how they have met the PCF's and standards.

There is flexibility on how direct observations can be achieved, for example through the use of conference and video calls. Students are still required to gain permission from the individual for the observation to take place. Retrospective direct observations can also be used where a qualified social worker has observed the student in practice. It is recognised that in these instances, feedback from the individual will not be available, so students are required to provide a reflective account on the importance and challenges of gaining feedback to inform practice.

MA Year 1: The 70 day placement due to start on 27 April has been postponed in line with the guidance. Online teaching of level 2 modules will replace the placement hours.

If appropriate, the placement will commence in June and will be reduced to 50 days of practice. If it is not appropriate then the placement days will take place in Semester 1 of the next academic year and will remain at 50 days for this cohort only.

Changes to assessments
All assessments have moved online and presentations have been altered to written assignments. The law exam will not take place. A short answer assessment based on a case study will replace this. Students will have seven days to complete this assessment.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All teaching has moved online. The content of the curriculum has remained in place but it is delivered through the use of webinars, online discussion forums and recorded lectures. Face-to-face simulations have been amended and telephone assessments have replaced these formative activities.

Goldsmiths, University of London

Adjustments to admissions process
We have simplified our selection process by relying more on academic staff to undertake assessment tasks.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Learning tasks for Goldsmiths students on social work placements:

  • Accept 75 or 80 days for a 100 day placement, but all the learning outcomes to the required standard. For learning outcomes – see points 3-7 (below)

  • Accept 50 or 55 days for a 70 day placement, but all the learning outcomes to the required standard. For learning outcomes – see points 3-7 (below)

  • Accept and pass 2 direct observations for a 100 day placement instead of 3; if a student has an outstanding observation, we will create a learning opportunity through the virtual placement hub

  • Accept and pass 1 direct observation for a 70 day placement instead of 2; if a student has an outstanding observation, we will create a learning opportunity through the virtual placement hub

  • Accept and pass 1 piece of service user feedback instead of 2; if a student has not received feedback, we will think creatively how to create this with the experts by experience group.

  • In portfolios, allow 1 example of how a domain was met instead of requiring 2 examples/work summaries in order to pass the CSE assignment.

  • Final report needs to be completed, passed and signed off by student, practice educator and tutor.

Changes to assessments
Eliminated exams and replaced with take home papers. Subject to university agreement, we may progress students who failed post COVID-19 assessments and may support students to carry over a failed module into the next year of their studies. 

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
We have developed online learning opportunities.


Greenwich, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
The programmes of social work at the University of Greenwich were already using a Qualtrics-based test to assess candidates' use of written English and comprehension. This has proved beneficial during these times. Due to COVID-19, however, we have had to move all interviews online and have made better use of Skype for Business to accommodate the interview panels. Furthermore, the process of identification of the candidates had to change, but is easily completed online.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
These areas are of great importance and concern for any programme. Regarding our students who have completed their placements before the outbreak, there will be no impact apart from the submission method (discussed below). Many students were about ten days short of completing their placement at the point of the lockdown. As the services they were placed in continued working from home using teleconferences, those students have completed their work. Final direct observations were possible via multimodal online platforms such as Teams.

For those students who are halfway into their placements or less, various adjustments are made. First, all deadlines for those students have been moved to accommodate their circumstances. Additionally, some of the students' agencies have confirmed that the students will recommence their placement once the lockdown is lifted. However, for others, this is unclear. For example, issues with funding has meant that charitable organisations with students on placement can no longer provide the support they would have normally provided to the student.

In those situations, the programme is seeking alternative solutions for the students, including alternative placement settings. Impromptu placement panels are taking place to assess whether students need to start anew with their placement, given that there were no concerns on their progress.

Where a student is less than five days short of completion (as a rule of thumb - but assessed on every individual case), a chance is offered to work on alternative portfolio items and evidence of their performance which can substitute the days. If this is the case for first year placements, then the programme is currently negotiating whether we can add the remaining days in the second year's placement.

An online platform is now provided to submit portfolios this way.

Changes to assessments
Due dates, where necessary, have been moved, and all arrangements have been made so students can submit their work online. Amendments were made, at a university level, on the ECs policy, to accommodate the current circumstance and support students.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Zoom has been used to provide teaching sessions, where necessary. Flipped classroom is used widely and gives students more space for independent study.
Teams and Skype are used for 1:1 personal tutorials and student support.

University of Huddersfield

Adjustments to admissions process
We have completed our outstanding interviews through video calling. We have not changed our admissions criteria, but we would be interested to know what other HEIs are doing and what Social Work England's position would be, in relation to GCSE maths and English for candidates that were due to do these in this period (is there still an expectation that we will require a grade C or above, i.e. would we accept a D).

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Our first placement students on the MSc Social Work were due to start placement in March. These placements have been suspended. We are now in the process of considering if we can bring forward academic module from next year and for the student to do 2 placements in their final year.

Changes to assessments
The university has implemented a no detriment policy, so that final year students' grades will not be negatively affected during this period.

3 modules that were assessed through presentations in class are now being assessed through audio recorded presentation submitted online. 1 module has had an in class test replaced with a written assignment. A year 1 module that requires students to interview a service user and the write an analysis of the interview has had the assessment changed to a written assignment on the principles of conducting and interview.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
We have developed online learning for students. We are using recorded presentations (that use slides and audio narration) alongside the use of video calling for seminars and tutorials.


Hull, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
Currently we are carrying out admissions interviews remotely, for example via skype or telephone. Rather than a panel interview, an academic is the lead interviewer. We are asking candidates to complete a written test also, which is timed.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
The majority of our students remain on placement. Some are agile working, completing tasks remotely and receiving support and guidance from their OSS and PE. We currently have a small number of paused placements, which we hope to get back on track as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.

We recognise that some students may not have the required number of direct observations. We want to facilitate direct observations taking place where possible; some may be written up retrospectively or may involve observing the student making a telephone call (which we do not usually permit). PE and OSS are being creative in terms of using virtual team rooms and group supervision to conduct observations where possible.

At this stage, we have not made the decision to reduce the number of placement days. The longer the current situation persists however, we may need to review this, particularly for students who are in the latter quarter of their 100 day final placement.

For students that are not yet out on placement, we recognise there may be a delay to their start date. We are exploring the possibility of bringing forward some academic modules to the summer, so that placement could be delayed until later in the year.

Changes to assessments
We have made minor changes to assessment in terms of how work is submitted, for example for creative pieces, and these are now submitted online with a short video. We are supporting students with short and long extensions where this is required.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All content is now being delivered remotely through our virtual learning environment, conference calling, Skype or Zoom. Essay support and content support is also being delivered through telephone and email.

We may choose to reorder some modules to allow a delay to practice-based learning such as the dissertation.

All learning outcomes remain the same, and assessment tasks mirror the objectives set out in the original assessment strategy (where tweaks have been required).

Keele University

Adjustments to admissions process
We stopped face-to-face interviews and group exercises. In light of the risks posed to vulnerable user groups, the university made the decision to pause the use of service users in the selection and recruitment process. Given the pressures on front line staff we have also paused employers involvement in the selection and recruitment process. As the situation evolves, we are considering ways in which services user groups and employers can be reintegrated into the process. We have maintained the requirement for written exercises and submission of suitability forms and we are currently conducting interviews by telephone.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
We are in constant communication with West Midlands teaching partnership and other providers. In collaboration with these groups, and following Social Work England guidance, we have agreed not to commence any new placements at this time. We are continuing to adhere to Public Health England, Social Work England, Local Authority and university guidance around placement activities.

Where students were in placement at the time of lockdown, we have maintained, in conjunction with West Midlands teaching partnership, placement providers and practice educators, a series of mechanisms in place to support final year students to complete with as little delay and with minimal risk.

For those students who are due to finish first (final year UG and PGT) we have agreed to prioritise those placements. We are in ongoing liaison with partner agencies and HEIs about placement timings in order to support progression and completion of the academic year as soon as is reasonably possible. We have sought to ensure that wherever possible students complete the full requirements of their placement. However, where student placements were paused or in danger of being paused as a result of COVID-19, those students who had successfully completed 80% of their placements (where appropriate) have been given additional tasks of 10 days to support meeting the PCFs in agreement with their practice educator and university.

We have closely followed Social Work England and West Midlands teaching partnership guidance in developing additional tasks of 10 days in to support placement learning. Students completing below 80% will be required to make up the days in either the 70 or 100 day placement.

We have put in place a risk assessment process which enables the social work team to identify any students who might be at risk of non-progression into the next academic year in order to ascertain the knock on effects of delayed placements.

Students who were not on target to achieve the PCFs and where remedial action is not immediately possible placements have been paused.

Where placements have not been able to continue those placements have been paused. We are seeking agreement from placements to ensure that students can return to those placements as soon as possible (even if this is on a part-time basis over a longer period).

In order to maintain some placements, we have agreed a reduction in the number of days per week in placement to ensure that placements remain viable, students will continue in the placement until the required number of days have been completed.

There is ongoing liaison with practice educators to encourage creativity in the assessment of the PCFs, but all students will be required to meet the PCFs at the relevant level to successfully complete their placement. For the readiness to practice in the first year, students have been required to submit their presentation electronically then answer questions via telephone.

Changes to assessments

The following changes have been made in line with the university’s agreed assessment amendment policy and have been approved through the school and faculty quality approval processes:

  • Assessments have been amended only when face-to-face assessment had been required, for example examinations
  • Alternative assessment methods have been produced to ensure equal robust testing of the intended learning outcomes
  • As part of the university's approach, all students were given a 2 week extension date for submission deadlines to ensure that no students were disadvantaged by the changes
  • Where appropriate, all amended assessments were reviewed and approved by the external examiners

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Keele University remains committed to the quality of our teaching and the development of new social workers. All module leads have adapted their current materials and activities to ensure there has been no disruption to modules which are yet to be completed. An online learning approach has been taken with the support of university learning technologists. Staff have continued to be available to students for tutorials and ongoing support. The university continues to provide enhanced support via student services for a wide range of student needs. Where possible face-to-face meetings are continuing via electronic means and the university is keen to continue development of this through Microsoft Teams.


Kent, University of 

Adjustments to admissions process

Social work admissions at the University of Kent has a layered process for selecting candidates to the BA and MA programmes. These normally include a written test, service user led observed group discussion and an interview (jointly conducted by a social work academic and practitioner).

During the COVID-19 crisis, we have had to amend our admissions protocols to meet the needs of remote working. All candidates have been contacted individually and interview dates identified (with flexibility to accommodate childcare and other caring responsibilities for candidates and staff). Each candidate is interviewed by a social work academic via Skype or telephone. Due to the enormous pressure on social work practitioners, whose first priority must be supporting vulnerable clients, we have not included practitioner inputs in these interviews. Due to feasibility issues, the observed group discussion has been discontinued. While this has meant losing experts by experience input in the observed group discussion, we have integrated their voices through a co-produced admissions process (as part of the teaching partnership with KCC and Medway) where experts by experience were consulted and their recommendations were included in an adapted interview schedule that better reflected service user perspectives. We will continue to work with our experts by experience to look at sustainable ways in which their involvement in admissions can be included in the long run.

For any candidate declaring a positive DBS, a detailed interview is conducted by the interviewer and the candidate is asked for a reflective statement which is then sent to a virtual suitability panel who provides feedback by email. Health declarations similarly are followed up with the GP or relevant medical practitioner. All applications are assessed in the round: admissions tutors make offers on a case by case basis, and we are sensitive to adverse situations which may have affected candidate performance, and also take into account paid or voluntary experience and life experience (such as being an informal carer) in making decisions.

During this challenging time we are aware that there will be delays in getting responses to our explorations. The social work admissions team is committed to process applications as quickly as we can, while being sensitive to the challenges facing our candidates (and staff). Following the successful completion of the screening process, the social work team at Kent are also offering virtual 'taster lectures' and Q&A sessions to continue contact with our candidates. These are meant to enliven candidates connection with the university's wider teaching and research-led environment and ensure continuity of contact and engagement with prospective candidates.

Adjustments to practice-based learning

Standard 5: Practice-based learning

We have ensured that practice-based learning has remained safe and supportive for students. We ceased all placements which could not ensure homeworking for students on the 27 March 2020.

Standard 6: Assessment

Students who are doing well on placement with no ‘action plan’ or concerns have the option of completing alternative tasks for assessment of their practice learning against the PCF and professional standards if over 60% of the placement has been completed and practice educators are satisfied that the standards have been met. Guidance provided to practice educators on this process has been ongoing and will be evidenced in the final report.

Changes to assessments

Standard 6: Assessment

Our assessment strategy has been amended as follows:

Students have been unable to undertake two days shadowing experience in Stage 1. As an alternative, they have been asked to watch a protecting our children episode and complete a reflective observation task. This will be marked by those with lived experience, academics and practitioners.

Portfolios will now be submitted online which means that some work products and feedback cannot be submitted due to concerns about security. These will be viewed by the PE and referred to in the final report, but not formally submitted as evidence.

A 'no detriment' policy has been implemented by the university.

Law exams to be online and timed.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity

Standard 4: Course design and delivery

We are aware that virtual learning does not suit all students. For this reason we have provided a variety of different ways that students can access learning materials such as recorded lectures, chat-based seminars, real-time and forum discussion, providing different learning materials such as videos, readings and increasing on-line book availability.

We have been unable to capture attendance for the last two weeks of term and specifically for readiness for direct practice and other skills days in Stages 2 and 3. However, students have been asked to complete learning logs as an alternative way of ‘measuring’ engagement with the course materials.

Kingston University

Adjustments to admissions process
We have adapted our selection process, moving it online where staff are conducting one-to-one Skype interviews (and telephone calls if Skype is difficult) with applicants. We have not made changes to how we select and interview and are using our standard multi-mini interviews and asking applicants to submit a short written test supervised by admin support team.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
These changes only apply to our Master of Social Work students (MSW). Fortunately our BA students were able to complete their placements before the lockdown.

In discussion with our teaching partnership (Developing Together: Social Work Teaching Partnership) we took the following actions:

We agreed to delay placements for our first year MSW students that were due to start in April/May. We are now considering alternatives including bringing forward a dissertation module normally taught in the second year, and discussing options for the delayed placements with our teaching partnership.

We agreed with partner agencies that, wherever possible, we would support final year MSW students to complete their placement to at least the midway point. We agreed a number of ways in which students who achieved ‘satisfactory progress’ at the midway review, could continue to provide evidence of capability through undertaking alternative activities designed to simulate practice experience and assess capability, and that these would count towards meeting a further 20 days of practice assessment. We agreed to end all final year placements at day 70, except where continuation was agreed by the course team, student and placement provider.

Changes to assessments
On our BA programme, we have redesigned face-to-face assessments including formal examinations, in-class tests, oral presentations and performances and replaced these with written forms of assessment which can be submitted remotely.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
We are currently in the process of agreeing changes to modules so we can deliver these online. We have yet to agree the specific details and would be happy to share these at a later date.

Lancaster University

Adjustments to admissions process
All our interviews have moved online. We have used both Skype and Microsoft Teams. The group exercise was not feasible to be carried out online, so we have included a new question in the written test to address activities previously tested through the group exercise. Applicants are now emailed the written test and have to return it within a set time frame. Our service user and carer group now evaluate the new component of the group exercise that has been integrated into the written test.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
All students who remained on placement will complete the 100 days. However, we have said that we will accept 2 direct observations instead of 4 for BA students. All 3 CAPS must be completed. For those students who had their placements terminated, we have called the practice educator, placement learning tutor and student to ascertain how many days the student had completed and to assess whether they had managed to reach all domains of the PCF.

If the student had completed 50 days or more and met all PCF domains then the student has been asked to engage with the online learning suite. Replacement CAPS can be completed in lieu of CAPS and these can be written up from and in relation to the online learning suite of material we have created. For those who had not completed enough days on placement (less than 50) and/or had not met the PCF domains, we have sourced new placements so that they have the opportunity to complete their placement and complete their portfolio.

For those students who had their placements paused, we have called the practice educator, placement learning tutor and student to ascertain how many days the student had completed and to assess whether they had managed to reach all domains of the PCF. We have developed individual placement plans for each student and therefore some students will return to placement when lockdown has eased or individual circumstances have changed.

Changes to assessments
The main adjustments have related to exams. These have changed to timed assessments. Students receive the questions in the morning and have the day to complete the assessment. They submit their work at the end of the day. Skills days have been delayed or rearranged to later in the year. Students who were due to go on placement in April will now be starting in September. Students who were due to start placement in September will be starting in January, so that they can complete the readiness for practice module in person.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All teaching has moved online. Lecturers now deliver lectures via Microsoft teams and/or record films of themselves doing the lecture. Some lectures are posted with audio recorded against the slides.


Leeds Beckett University

Adjustments to admissions process
We have made adjustments to the admissions process (end of March 2020) interviewing candidates remotely. These interviews have been conducted solely by academic staff. We have maintained our tripartite approach, though individual interviews have been conducted by Skype or telephone and written assessments have been submitted prior to interview. Group discussion has been replaced by a case scenario discussion with an academic tutor. We recognise that a small number candidates have experienced difficulties arranging relevant social care experience and they have been advised where possible to volunteer for COVID-19 schemes.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
First placements MA Year One and BA Year Two have been suspended. Some students completed up to 15 days and we are in the process of finalising alternative practice-based learning with our teaching partnership and will consults students and external examiners. This is a practice learning package based on a series of fortnightly learning packages, over nine weeks from 27 April 2020, following the PCF domains and a formula of narrated input, student directed learning and required output uploaded to an e-portfolio. Weekly tutor oversight/formative, midway review, summative assessment by viva with tutor and practice educator/and e-portfolio.

For BA Year Three students on last placements, our teaching partnership has agreed that students 'on track' can be recommended for a pass from 70 days. Where a student has completed fewer than 100 days, final placements reports will identify any future learning and support that is required for the ASYE.

Placements have been suspended for students on action plans and will resume once agencies have returned to a more supportive working environment.

Changes to assessments

  • Assessments dates have been rescheduled, an additional four weeks for all assessments post March 2020.
  • Change in mode of assessment for written exams.
  • Flexibility for students with additional needs/increased adversity as a result of COVID-19.
  • Exam board will take into account the mitigation caused by COVID-19 for all students when making pass/progression decisions based on students prior performance in Semester One.
  • Exam boards have been held via Skype.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All remaining face to face teaching has been transferred online with recorded lectures, webinars and Skype tutorials.

Lincoln, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
We have moved to online interviews/assessment. Whilst our interview process would normally involve a social work practitioner, this will not be possible because of the pressures in practice. However, all the interviewers are registered social workers.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Our MSc Social Work (MSW) Year Two students began their final placements in January. With four exceptions, students remain in practice. This has been negotiated at the request of, and with the involvement of, all key partners/employers, their practice educator and the student. The university contact tutor for each student (a member of the social work academic team), the module coordinator, placement coordinator and programme leader have been fully involved and maintain regular contact with the student and practice educator.

All placements have been assessed to ensure their is sufficient work of appropriate depth and breadth to meet the PCF's/module requirements. A risk assessment policy and process has been developed to ensure that there is protection and support for social work students in placements under COVID-19 conditions. This has to be agreed and signed by the students and the practice educator.

We have developed guidance on how the PCF can be meet in creative ways. We have adapted requirements for observation, for example one observation of a phone call. We have put in place guidance on home-based working. We have continued with 'call-back' days using an online blended learning approach and opportunities for each student to have a tutorial.

The final placement is usually 100 days, however we will be reviewing each placement on a case-by-case basis to allow for a minimum of 85 days if the practice educator has clear evidence that the student has meet the PCF's. Where students have had to have placements suspended, we have put in place a protocol and checklist to ensure that the number of days is recorded and that any progress has been recorded.

We have a part-time BSc (Hons) Social Work Programme (designed for a local employer) with all students in Year 2 of their studies. They had just started their first placement when the employer asked that we suspend the placements in order for the group to return to work because of COVID-19 pressures. This was agreed, with the restart to be reviewed at a later date.

Changes to assessments
We are reviewing the number of placement days for the MSc Social Work Year 2 students. We have moved a law test online for MSc Social Work Year One.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All of our teaching has moved online (Microsoft Teams/Blackboard Collaborate). We continue to deliver all modules and assessments as agreed, albeit remotely. Students have made very positive comments about the transition to online learning, particularly the support and advice available from all staff. Module teams and academic tutors have provided additional contact and support.

Liverpool John Moores University

Adjustments to admissions process
We will be undertaking telephone interviews only. There will be no group work or written exercise but we have more comprehensive questions.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
First and second year students can undertake up to 30 days paid or voluntary alternative work in health and social care. This activity is recorded in a portfolio and can be used to support evidence to satisfy learning outcomes/PCF etc.

First and second year students are permitted to work from home. This activity is recorded in a portfolio and can be used to support evidence to satisfy learning outcomes/PCF etc. First and second year students only have to undertake two observations. Where observations are lacking, first year students will be offered an opportunity to be observed by their personal tutor (and possibly service user if SU feedback is also needed). Where evidence is lacking, first year students can complete a number of reflective tasks in an individually tailored learning plan.

Changes to assessments
Placement portfolios have been adapted. One ethical analysis that was previously based on first placement experience has now been broadened to include any practice dilemma that students have experienced or observed.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Both first and second year students were on placement when we went into lockdown. All recall days have been/will be delivered remotely (online using PANOPTO).


London Metropolitan University

Adjustments to admissions process
The adjustments we have made include:

  • Telephone individual interviews with academic team members. People with lived experience will be incorporated into telephone interviews once we have received consent to use telephone numbers
  • Timed, on-line written tests
  • Group discussion task has been suspended

Adjustments to practice-based learning
A) Final year students that have completed 80 days on placement and have robust evidence of meeting the domains, alongside a recommendation from the practice educator, will pass the placement successfully (as long as all of the learning objectives or action plans at the midway stage have been met). The portfolio submission date that was agreed at the midway stage remains in place, which will give time to complete the final placement report or any remaining documentation.

B) Final year students that have completed between 70 and 79 days on placement and have robust evidence of meeting the domains, alongside the recommendation of a pass from the practice educator, will need to complete an additional piece of work/skills days (set by the university) to successfully pass the course (if they have completed the google link, we will contact them) - or if the opportunity to work from home is available to reach the required benchmark, this can be considered and they will pass the placement successfully (as long as all of the learning objectives or action plans at the midway stage have been met). The portfolio submission date that was agreed at the midway stage remains in place, which will give time to complete the final placement report or any remaining documentation. If there are any significant gaps in meeting the learning objectives and these cannot be met, we should be contacted. 

C) Final year students that have completed under 70 days on placement, and have not yet met the minimum requirements, will either have the opportunity to work from home (wherever possible) as long as there are opportunities for them to engage in meaningful and valuable tasks with appropriate supervision and support. These learning opportunities should be as varied as possible and cover a wide range of PCF domains. If working from home is not an option, then the completed placement days will be ‘banked’ and they will continue the placement at a later date.

D) MSc year 1 students on placement, this remains suspended until further notice.

E) BSc year 2 students who have not yet finished their first placement but have reached 60 days, will require robust evidence of meeting the domains, the recommendation of a pass from the practice educator, to complete an additional piece of work/skills days (set by the university) and have met all of the learning objectives or the action plan which was set at the midway stage of the placement. The portfolio submission date that was agreed at the midway stage remains in place. If there are any significant gaps in meeting the learning objectives and these cannot be met, we should be contacted. 

If any student situation falls outside of any of the above options, it will be considered on a case by case basis.

Changes to assessments
Our message to students in response to the changes regarding their assessments:

Everything will be provided to you online: you can access the materials at a time that suits you and staff will be as flexible as possible in providing support. If you find it difficult to engage over the next couple of weeks while you deal with other issues, please do not worry about this. We know that some of you rely on resources and facilities only available on campus and we want you to know that we are working hard to develop bespoke support for you.

One week extension for all deadlines: in response to your feedback we are extending all original assessment deadlines by one week. No mitigation will need to be submitted to allow you this extension.

Using alternative assessments: we are making arrangements for alternative assessments where appropriate. If this involves your modules, your course or module leader will communicate with you about arrangements. Alternative assessments are being used where students might find the original assessment difficult to complete in the circumstances.

We’ll ensure your grades are fair: in order to ensure that your grades are not adversely affected, we will be comparing the performance of the previous years' students to the performance of your cohort and your individual performance to date to ensure that you have a fair grade. This will ensure that your grades are fair. If you don’t think your grades reflect your effort to date then you can resit your assessments to enhance your marks. Your marks will not be capped if you do this and this applies to all assessments that are submitted from Monday 23 March.

For students currently undertaking placements that relate to professional body requirements: where we can, we will offer you alternative ways of meeting this requirement but you no longer need to complete your placement hours. The professional bodies have confirmed that we can make decisions about students’ success on placements on the basis of what they have completed so far. We know that some of you are in the first couple of weeks of your placements. In this case, your course team will provide alternative learning activities and you will be able to do your placements hours in the autumn. We know that some students have been asked to support the NHS by volunteering at this time.

Progression and graduation are not affected, but July graduation ceremonies have been postponed: we have taken the decision to postpone our graduation ceremonies in July. This action will not stop you from completing and being awarded your degree. We will explore how we can celebrate the achievements of graduates once things return to more like normal. When it comes to progression to the next level of study, please be assured this will happen as usual. The processes we are putting in place mean that we can be more flexible with reassessments and enable students to progress or complete more quickly.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity

  • 100% of teaching has moved online. This includes synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning activities.
  • All module, dissertation and academic tutorial activity has moved online.
  • The platform used at London Metropolitan University is Microsoft Teams
  • Weekly Microsoft Teams meetings have been scheduled by the Head of Social Work with student representatives of all years for both MSc and BSc Social Work cohorts to share and disseminate information.

Middlesex University

Adjustments to admissions process

BA and MA/PGDip Social Work programmes

Face to face interviews have been replaced by an online written admissions test covering key threshold areas, following discussion with key stakeholders. There is a moderation process in place to ensure employer, service user and carer views are considered and applicants are phoned (or contacted via Skype) as and when needed to follow up. Suitability checks remain in place.

Think Ahead programme

All assessments since late March have been held remotely via video conference. The content of activities has been modified, but applicants are still assessed and scored against the PCF in the same way as previously.

Step Up to Social Work

We are in the middle of current run of cohort 6. The DfE is now planning cohort 7 which will be due to start in 2022. Therefore, it has not currently been necessary to change the admissions processes for this programme.

Adjustments to practice-based learning

BA and MA/PGDip Social Work programmes

All face to face placements were halted initially, in line with Government and Social Work England guidance. Following this, extensive arrangements were put into place after discussions with students, PEs, staff and placement providers, regarding students working from home. Protocols were devised whereby working from home tasks were identified and shared with students, PEs and tutors, and a system devised for these to be recorded and integrated to evidence practice learning in the existing placement portfolios.

A placement progression process was initiated to enable the varying placement situations and student circumstances to be recorded as they emerged. Most students were enabled to complete the full number of placement days by inclusion of a measured number of working from home days. Meetings were held to determine progression categories and to make decisions around circumstances where working from home was not possible. In this way, a small proportion of students have been facilitated to complete their placement with less than the full number of placement days. Decisions were made and ratified by the Placement Advisory Panel as to whether agreed numbers of days would be carried over to the next placement, or in some cases, placements might be eligible for a ‘pass’ with a reduction of up to 10 days (where all learning outcomes are assessed as being met).

Service users and carers and employers have been consulted and involved in this decision making and planning. At the time of writing, plans are in place for placements to recommence around the beginning of July 2020, where students have opted in via an informed consent process and where there has been a review of quality assurance in each placement setting. Stakeholders, students and staff are being consulted in order to make this a safe and positive learning opportunity for students, to enable them to progress in their studies, at a pace they feel happy and safe to do so.

Think Ahead

All Think Ahead students were on their final placement. Our initial response was to allow home working and to pause all work outside the home in relation to placement. This pause lasted for one week. Students have since been allowed to undertake placement activities outside their homes if they want to, understanding the risks, and if their host organisations want them to do so and agree to fully apply their health and safety at work policy in respect of students. The total placement days were reduced from 130 to 100. Where students are not able to complete their contrasting learning experience on their final placement, arrangements are being put in place for them to complete this with their host organisation post-qualification.

To offset this, additional teaching around child protection has been added to the programme and this aspect on knowledge and understanding has been specifically assessed. Guidance has been drawn up around working from home and all students are keeping a log of the work they undertake at home. These logs are being audited to ensure they are in line with the guidance we have issued. Guidance has also been produced on how practice educators can undertake online observations of practice. While students are currently still on placement, we anticipate that most will complete their placement having undertaken less than 50 days working from home.

Step Up to Social Work

When the lockdown was announced, the DfE who fund and supervise the Step Up programme, required all programmes to pause placements. Our students had begun their initial placement, and most had completed 20 days at the time of the pause.

Taking a steer from the DfE’s most recent advice, which was informed by advice from Social Work England, we are now planning for students to return to placement in June. We are using the knowledge gained from our stewardship of the traditional route students, to roll out a ‘hybrid model’ for the placements. We have also worked closely with our employer partners who have looked at the learning opportunities available for the students currently within their organisations which can be mapped to the learning needs of the students.

The hybrid model offers flexibility to tailor the students’ domestic circumstances and the organisations’ learning opportunities. As much as possible, this is replicating the practice of the social workers within the organisation. It is envisaged therefore that most students will develop skills and knowledge in remote working including direct work with services users, such as attending decision making forums. Most will be offered the opportunity for some face to face work. Students are being given the chance to make an informed choice as to whether to participate in face to face work and need to sign a consent form in order to progress this.

It is envisaged that the Step Up students will be able to undertake a full 70 day and a full 100 contrasting placement to finish within the timescales set out. If there are students for whom this is not possible, we have an additional quality assurance process to review their placements in order to plan whether the full number of days will need to be undertaken or whether a small number of days could be dispensed with.

The process to quality assure the robustness of the assessment decisions in these cases, will follow the processes outlined for the traditional route, qualifying programme students. In short, an additional practice advisory panel oversees these decisions and looks at a sample of the decisions to quality assure the assessments.

Changes to assessments
The university responded to the COVID-19 crisis by putting in place a blanket 2 week extension opportunity for student assessments. Approximately one third of students across BA and MA/PGDip programmes took up. There was also an automatic deferral process to enable students to submit at the next assessment point over the summer.

In the case of individual modules, minor amendments have been made in some cases to facilitate students to complete assignments, recognising the stress students were experiencing in moving to remote working (for example a shortening of some written assignments) and also that they had be unable to continue in face to face practice (for example provision of a written case example to enhance opportunities for students to integrate theory and practice in some modules).

Academic staff have been supported to ensure that all learning outcomes continue to be fully met and the university quality processes have reviewed the ‘assessment modification’ forms to ensure consistency.

Step Up to Social Work Programme

The teaching timetable changed in response to the pausing of the 70 day placement (see below). With the change in timetable, it made sense to alter the assessment dates so that the submission dates were synchronised with the teaching. Students have been offered the automatic extensions of 14 calendar days and deferrals, as has been detailed above

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity

BA and MA/PGDip Social Work programmes

Middlesex University has had ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’ standards in place over the past year and staff were already moving to blended learning approaches prior to the COVID-19 crisis. When learning and teaching moved to online delivery at short notice, at the end of March 2020, this enabled staff to push forward with their use of online methods. All modules have been taught by use of online lectures (live and recorded), discussion forums;, large and small online class rooms (‘New Row’ via blackboard learning), Zoom tutorials and so on. Students have been consulted regularly by means of student voice groups to find out how these methods have been received and their comments and feedback taken on board.

Think Ahead

Recall day teaching has been moved online with blended approach being used, including live streamed lectures and live seminars as well as guided self-directed study and interactive peer activities. Some teaching is also provided via content such as pre-recorded lectures and presentations. We have increased the amount of teaching to include more content on child protection (see above).

Step Up to Social Work

Due to the placements being paused, we reviewed our teaching timetable and front loaded some of the modules to finish in June before placement recommences. The Law and Advanced Practice module was elongated to support students on placement on their final placement and will be taught throughout the placement period. Currently, all teaching is online for example with live lectures and seminars, which are also recorded.

NCC Havering Colleges

Adjustments to admissions process
Due to the current situation, we have made changes to our admissions process to ensure that we continue to uphold robust interview processes whilst maintaining social distancing regulations. Our procedures are as follows:

  1. Students contact admissions
  2. Admissions email students with a prepared pack with clear instructions
  3. Once complete, students email admissions with the completed pack (application form, certificates, skills builder results, completed literacy task)
  4. admissions to email lead tutor with the completed packs
  5. Tutor reviews and emails the student with a mutually agreed phone interview time
  6. Tutor marks the literacy task
  7. Tutor completes the interview using the relevant documentation and email admissions with the offer/decision - subject to 'assessment to practice'

The assessment to practice part of the interview will be completed once the lockdown has ceased. We will aim to complete this by July. We feel that this practical element of the interview process is vital and ensures that we maintain robust procedures.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Due to the placement elements of our programme, some of the students will have to trail in practice placement modules. We will be adjusting the timetables in September to accommodate these changes.

Changes to assessments
For one of our modules there is an exam component which we have changed to three questions, in the form of case studies, based on areas of mental health, mental capacity and the Care Act. Students will be required to complete the case studies and utilise Turnitin for submission.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Due to the current situation, a mixture of online taught lessons utilising Microsoft Teams, one to one support sessions and ‘drop in’ workshops will be conducted over the coming weeks. Where possible, we will keep to the designated days and times of the lessons. Students will be able to access all resources as usual on Moodle and clearly identified dates and times of lessons will make sure that resources are found easily.

To ensure equality of access for all students during these special provisions, we ensure that students have access to the internet and to a device which can download Teams or access it through their browser, with sufficient bandwidth to engage at the specified time. To ensure equity, we will endeavour to record these sessions and make them available to students who have been unable to access the live session (for example, through restricted internet access, additional caring responsibilities, self-isolation or illness). Doing this will also require all students to give their permission for the recording to happen.

Northumbria University

Adjustments to admissions process

  • Interviews are conducted online, with applicants given a choice of format such as phone, Skype, MS Teams, WhatsApp
  • Interview panels are made up of one person rather than two people
  • The written test is sent out by email and the case study scenario will be changed after each selection event

Adjustments to practice-based learning
A decision was made to pause final year placements on 25 March. A decision was made the following week, enabling students to complete any ongoing work via remote working. The minimum number of placement days to be completed was set at 85 days, provided that the student has met the learning outcomes for the programme at this point. An individual action plan was devised for each student. This identified the range of varied evidence that would enable students to successfully complete the placement.

Changes to assessments
Oral and written examinations have been replaced with either a written assignment or a take away timed examination. Under the university's emergency regulations, all assessments have a two-week extended submission period. Under PSRB, all Level 5 and Level 6 modules must be successfully submitted at first or second attempt.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Remaining taught sessions are taking place via Blackboard Collaborate or via other online methods.

Nottingham, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
Admissions processes have moved online and we are conducting interviews via Skype. Candidates still have to undertake a written test and complete a declaration of suitability for professional practice before they are interviewed. We have not found a way of replicating the discussion exercise in an online format, so we are not currently using that element of our usual process. Interviews are now conducted by two members of university staff (qualified social workers, registered with Social Work England). We currently do not have service users or local authority social workers on the interview panel. Our processes for applicants whose suitability for professional practice may be in question, for example because of a police caution or criminal conviction remain the same as before the pandemic.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
We have removed the requirement to complete a specific number of placement days. Instead, our focus is on students being able to evidence how they have met the relevant PCF/KSS. We have relaxed our guidance about some aspects of evidence, including around direct observations, service user feedback and feedback from other professionals. We have encouraged students to reflect on the impact of COVID-19 as part of their overall reflection on their placement. We will send a copy of our guidance document to our Social Work England.

Changes to assessments
We have made no changes to assessments for MA Social Work students. We also have not made changes to assessments for second or third-year BA students. We have made the following changes to assessment for first year BA students:

Within the ‘Investigating Social Worlds’ module, the word count of the portfolio students must submit has been reduced from 4,000 words to 2,000 words.

Within the 'Communication Skills' module, we have adjusted the practical assessment.

The assessment normally involves students being videoed whilst interviewing a local authority social worker. The assessment has instead been switched to take place online and now involves the student interviewing a member of staff via Microsoft Teams.

We are working on how to proceed with our assessment of readiness for direct practice. This normally involves students being observed whilst they interview a service user. The service user group we usually work with are being very helpful and flexible, and we are hopeful that it may be possible to put together an online process which still involves service users.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity

For MA Social Work students:
Recall days for students on placement will now take place via an online learning platform rather than in person. This will still facilitate interactive elements. The 3-day dissertation workshops that normally take place in early July will now take place via an online learning platform rather than in person. This will still facilitate interactive elements.

For BA Social Work students:
Recall days for students on placement will now take place via an online learning platform rather than in person. This will still facilitate interactive elements. For BA1 students, the last three weeks of teaching on all semester 2 modules took place via an online learning platform rather than in person, using pre-recorded lectures and online interactive seminars. The content of the teaching remained the same.


Nottingham Trent University 

Adjustments to admissions process
We have moved from a four-stage process to a three-stage process. We now have a paper selection via the UCAS form, a telephone or Skype interview, and a written, time-limited exercise that is sent to a service user group for their opinion. This keeps service user involvement in the decision making process.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Our placements start in September, but the local circuit has been disrupted to a significant degree. This means that we expect issues to arise even if the lockdown was lifted today. We are meeting with placement partners to look at how we can establish a fair way to ensure both the scheduled and disrupted placements are completed.

Changes to assessments
We have engaged with our external examiners and internal quality teams to alter submission dates, assessment formats and formative exercises. We have moved from exams to either essays or timed assessment events using the Virtual Learning Environment tools at our disposal. We've also moved from face-to-face assessed interviews to MS Teams or phone assessments. These seem to have worked well.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity

We have had to make substantial changes here. We have:

  • Provided lecturers asynchronously using voice-over PowerPoints and recordings
  • Provided group and individual tutorials via MS Teams in real time. These have been recorded for asynchronous use.
  • Provided an infrastructure for the developments of independent study groups using MS Teams and directed there use in our learning activities.
  • Provided higher levels of academic support via phone, Teams and skype.
  • Reinforced the integrated nature of services for students in the form of learning support, the extension system and personal tutor use.
  • Relaxed the criteria to provide evidence for extensions in the context of COVID-19.


The Open University 

Adjustments to admissions process
We have cancelled an early recruitment assessment day that was planned for June. We are hoping subsequent recruitment assessment days can continue as planned, if not we will move these online. As our programmes are employment-based, including the social worker degree apprenticeship, some recruitment takes place within the employers place of work throughout the country. Employers are making individual decisions about how to facilitate these in discussion with us.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Postgraduate, first placement:
These students were meant to commence placement at the beginning of April. They did not begin placement and we are in the process of deciding at what point these can begin. It is likely that we will waive up to 20% of these placement days if other requirements are met.

For all other students we applied the following five principles to determine whether placements were viable to continue or should be paused:

  1. The student/apprentice’s sponsoring agency/employer agrees that the placement can continue
  2. A practice educator remains in place, can fulfil the required tasks in relation to assessing the student and enabling their learning, which includes providing weekly supervision (whether this is face-to-face, online or by phone)
  3. It is judged by the practice/programme tutor, with input from others, that the placement agency can maintain sufficient ongoing support for the student/apprentice
  4. The student/apprentice is able to continue to experience sufficient and appropriate learning opportunities to meet the professional and regulatory requirements (additional guidance was given for as to how this could be achieved flexibly)
  5. The social work regulator continues to support this position

If these conditions could not be met placements would be paused, placement days banked and a report provided by the practice educator.

In addition to this general guidance, the following adjustments for students were made for the respective cohort:

Postgraduate, second placement:
These students were nearing the end of the placement. We advised that up to 20 placement days could be waived if the PE could confirm all the PCF domains and standards were met to the required level. We reduced our usual requirement of four direct observations to three. 

Undergraduate (including apprenticeship), first and second placement:
These student had all begun their placement and most were at a few weeks prior to their midpoint. We advised that up to 20% of placement days could be waived if the PE could confirm all the PCF domains and standards were met to the required level. For second placements, we reduced our usual requirement of four direct observations to three. To supplement the five points above, in relation to the test for the viability of placements, we emphasised the need to consider the extent to which students were out of face-to-face contact and if it was likely that they would have very little or no prospect of face-to-face contact due to remote working. We advised that this should call into question the sufficiency and appropriateness of learning opportunities as required in the viability test in point 4 above. We decided, however, that this needed to be considered on an individual basis because some remote working afforded excellent learning opportunities while others less so.

Changes to assessments
Whilst the university as a whole has suspended end of module assignments, those following professional programmes are exempt from this, so the decision so far is that social work students will continue with their end of module assignments as planned. We have had to make some adjustments to the wording of assignments and guidance to ensure that students are not disadvantaged if they are paused from placement. This is because most assignments require students to draw on practice related work. We have achieved this by broadening the range of practice experience that students can draw on and in limited cases changed assignments to focus on case studies or reflections on previous experiences where it is not possible to draw on current employment/practice placement experiences.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
At The Open University, we are in the advantageous position of already providing a supported distance learning approach, so we could capitalise on this. We moved planned face-to-face tutorials online, using our Adobe Connect rooms, as we do for our existing online tutorials and workshops. As our academic and practice learning is intrinsically linked, we needed to make some adjustment to ensure students were not being disadvantaged if they could not draw on placement experience as they were guided through the online learning tasks.


Oxford Brookes University

Adjustments to admissions process
Online interviewing and we have not been able to include VOE's into the panels.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Some students who had met all learning outcomes after 80 days completed final placements early. Other students (in particular first placements) have had placements paused.

Changes to assessments
The university has implemented no detriment policy, although we will be mindful of professional standards in the context of this. This will be a potential tension moving forward to be managed. All students offered grace periods to delay deadlines by two weeks. The switch to online learning has meant that some assessments such as poster presentations and vivas are being implemented through submission of either a pre-recorded video or live distance method.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All teaching has moved online exclusively, this is for 2 weeks until the semester ends. In terms of content, some VOE contributions are probably most effected by this.

Plymouth, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
Rather than having face-to-face interviews, we have held interviews by Zoom and Skype. This has reduced the length of the interview as we have not been able to hold a group interview (as per usual) or to include a written test. Due to the time factor, it has also meant that we have been unable to provide interviews with a panel of academic, service user or carer and practitioner. Instead the admissions tutor has undertaken the majority of interviews with support from the academic team.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
We suspended placements for students on all three years of the undergraduate programme with no exceptions. Subsequently, we have modified the assessments for practice modules to ensure that competencies are met rather than having to achieve a set number of days.

Changes to assessments
We have introduced variations to modes of assessment. For example, a real time oral presentation to a panel has been substituted with an recorded oral presentation uploaded by the student. With regards to placement modules, students have been required to write a piece to demonstrate the meeting of competencies which have not already been met or demonstrated through feedback from a range of sources. We have also required some students to return and complete placement days in order to demonstrate competencies.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Fortunately we were almost at the end of teaching for this academic year, so there was minimal disruption to students. We have not postponed any teaching but have instead developed and delivered online and remote learning opportunities for students to access. This has proven very successful, particularly in relation to meeting for individual or group tutorials.


Royal Holloway, University of London

Adjustments to admissions process

The following applies to both the MSc and PG Dip Step Up social work qualifying programmes:

Student placements were paused from 3 April given issues arising from resources to practically support placements continuation whilst WAH students and partners concerns as to the learning and realistic levels of support for learning able to be afforded currently.

A significant proportion of students have expressed their concern at the level of teaching and learning available when WAH. They indicated relief when the placement was paused given the pressures on services and lack of resource to support placements; the poor level of experience was noted. A proportion also have caring responsibilities and the impact of this on WAH and sustaining a placement was untenable.

We have, following latter guidance from Social Work England, relating to required numbers of placement days, reduced the first placement from 70 to 55 days, provided the student is providing sufficient evidence to evidence a pass. If this is were not the case, the full 70 days or concerns resolution process would be applied. We have not discussed reducing the requirement of the second placement, but this is a possibility and has been applied in RHUL’s qualifying MSc course.

Again with rigorous constraints, 80 days is accepted and ongoing learning priorities indicated for the ASYE. Courses and related assessments, not explicitly linked to placement activity, are being delivered. RHUL have moved to online learning and packages of learning based on means such as preloaded presentations, videos and reading materials, individual and group activities and webinars using Microsoft Teams are employed. A structured day of learning activity is offered and cohort meetings, plus tutorials and seminars convened regularly. We have deferred two activities, including a child observation given issues relating to COVID-19. Related reflective activity will be re-instigated when possible.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
See above.

Changes to assessments
We have allowed more flexibility regarding extension requests, have canvassed all students regarding any IT issues or arising additional needs, plus are now working toward revising our exam process. Aligning with the rest of RHUL PG provision, the formal exam will be replaced by timed assessed activity.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
See above.

Staffordshire University

Adjustments to admissions process
Interviews and written tests are now undertaken virtually, primarily with the use of Microsoft Teams. Service users and carers are not present in interviews with applicants. We have gathered written testimonies and reflections from our service users and carers. These testimonies are shared with applicants ahead of the interview. Applicants are asked to produce a written response to these testimonies in advance of the interview (this replaces the written element of the assessment also).

Adjustments to practice-based learning
We reviewed practice-based learning in March, in line with standards set by Social Work England and in consultation with the West Midlands Teaching Partnership. Practice-Based learning is now focused on assessing against the PCF and learning outcomes (which are mapped to Social Work England standards) rather than days completed.

Placements were paused and students who had met the standards at 80% of placement days were able to complete with permission from the practice educator. Students with 60 to 80% placement days completed were given a simulated project, created by the university in partnership with service users, which provided them with simulated placement work that could be used as evidence of meeting standards and referenced in the practice educators final report.

Students with less than 60% placement days completed, or where concerns were raised by the practice educator, were suspended. We are now looking to resume those placements under remote working arrangements. These arrangements will be monitored regularly to ensure safe and viable practice learning.

Placements that cannot be completed remotely, or that had not yet commenced (new placements) remain suspended.

Changes to assessments
The university extended all assessment deadlines by two weeks. Students who have had placements adjusted are submitting an addendum with their placement portfolio which documents the adjustments made to days completed and assessment in practice. Assessments that previously would have been completed as presentations are now going to be written reflections.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
Teaching is now being delivered remotely through Blackboard collaborate and Teams. This includes live teaching sessions as well as recorded presentations being made accessible. Additional guided study materials are being set to develop and stretch independent learning.

Tutorials are now delivered online through Teams. The timetable of our apprenticeship has been restructured to bring forward teaching from next semester. Our service users and carers are providing input virtually.


Sussex, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
The recruitment process has been revised to replace the in-person interview and panel process with Skype based interviews. Interviews are conducted by departmental staff and recorded, with the agreement of participants. Experts by experience provide their input by reviewing the recorded interviews.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
70-day placements have paused. Planning discussions are underway with community partners to explore options to accommodate the additional placement days. Because 100-day placements were near completion, these were able to finish in accordance with existing timescales. Only a small number of students based in hospital settings completed at 84 days as they could not work from home.

Changes to assessments
The University of Sussex has introduced a no detriment approach to marking that is based on the average mark achieved in Semester. While students will still be required to pass all modules successfully, the no detriment policy will allow students to still obtain the expected academic results based on their work to date, should they experience lower grades in the forthcoming assessment period. This policy will be reviewed regularly at university level and discontinued once the pandemic measures cease to apply.

The University of Sussex has applied a two-week extension to all assessments during this period. The criteria and definition of exceptional circumstances is also being reviewed to accommodate individuals who have been particularly impacted by COVID-19. In response to the changes to teaching timescales, some assessment periods have also changed.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
The BA and MA in Social Work programmes have reviewed all modules to address the gaps in the current timetable created by the early conclusion of 70-day placements. This includes bringing forward the research methods/dissertation and organisations modules.


West London, University of

Adjustments to admissions process

Adjustments to practice-based learning

Changes to assessments

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
We have continued our normal education and training standards. With the university moving to remote teaching and remote working.


Wiltshire College & University Centre

Adjustments to admissions process
Face-to-face interviews have been replaced with telephone interviews.

Written interview task (video link and pro-forma) is being emailed to candidates prior to interview. Candidates send their completed written work to the interviewing tutor by return email prior to telephone interview.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
Not applicable. We are a new course with only one Year 1 cohort who will commence their 70 day practice-based learning placement in Year 2.

Changes to assessments
All changes have been decided by the awarding body, Oxford Brookes University.

Legal module - previously assessed via a classroom based legal test. This module will now be assessed via an open-book online test to be completed within 3 hours over a 24 hour period.

Human Growth & Development Module - previously assessed by a written abstract, poster and presentation. This module will now be assessed via a self-videoed presentation. Students will present their 'poster' in online, rather than in a printed format. There will be no change to submission of the written abstract.

There will be no changes to modules where assessment is via written assignment.

Students have been given the opportunity to apply for a two-week extension, to take into account the practical disruptions such as home schooling requirements, illness and caring for family members as well as emotional disruptions such as anxiety and the mental health impact of the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
The course is continuing to the normal teaching timetable, to offer students a sense of routine and security. All module content is being delivered in accordance with the original scheme of work. Lecturers are delivering modules via the college's online moodle-based system. Students are accessing the lesson PowerPoint and resources via moodle at the timetabled time. The module lecturer is present throughout via an online forum, where group discussion is facilitated and questions on content are answered. A student meeting forum has been set up within Microsoft Teams to offer students instant access to the programme lead & tutor.

As an additional support measure, the programme leader has met with students via Microsoft Teams for a video-conferenced staff-student liaison committee meeting. This has proved a very worthwhile way of keeping in contact with students, answering any questions, disseminating information, for example on bursary applications and offering general support and reassurance. This will be continued throughout the lockdown period and until normal studies resume.


Wolverhampton, University of

Adjustments to admissions process
Entry requirements remain the same, no change. Selection process, no change, applicants who meet the entry requirements are shortlisted for interviews. All interviews are conducted via Microsoft Teams with the applicant /academic. The admission team sends information to all applicants on how to download M/T in preparation for the the interview. The admission team sends the written test in advance of the candidates' interview for them to complete and return back to them. The written test for the B.A and M.A Social Work has a link to a video which the candidate has to watch and write an analysis of their findings of the key issues. The written test is received by admissions team who pass it the academic on the day of the interview for marking. Candidates are interviewed via M/T. Interview questions are marked and the written test scored and sent back to admissions who then inform the candidate of the outcome.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
University of Wolverhampton, following a discussion with all HEI's in the WMTP, suspended all placements on Friday 27 March 2020. We have since implemented guidance for resolving placements disrupted by COVID-19:

4 pathways created

For the BASW Level 4: remedies to 5 days shadowing experiences disrupted by COVID-19

No changes in the learning outcomes.

Changes to assessments
No changes in learning outcomes. All assessments are now online. University of Wolverhampton has granted a 2-week extension from submission dates due to COVID-19.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
We have not postponed any teaching. All teaching moved to online. At the University of Wolverhampton we use CANVAS for T & L/discussion forums/conference facilities/ M/T. Students have been supported via SAMS appointments for tutorials.


Worcester, University of 

Adjustments to admissions process
Following lockdown in late March, we moved to virtual interviews with candidates. We needed to make amendments to our usual admissions process, including substituting a verbal reasoning exercise to substitute for the written assessment. Our amended interview process has been mapped against the PCF standards for ‘entry to training level’.

Our colleagues in registry continue to undertake a pre-screening process to ensure candidates meet our requirements in terms of predicted grades and relevant experiences. The university is currently developing online standardised assessments for maths and English equivalency tests for candidates who do not have existing qualifications to meet the minimum standard.

We continue to apply requirements in relation to DBS checks, occupational health and standards of competence in IT. In order to deal with the number of applicants at the time of lockdown, academic staff carried out slightly extended virtual interviews in April and May, but following a pilot of joint interview process in late May 2020, we are confident we will be able to have service users and carers join the virtual interview process again in June 2020.

Adjustments to practice-based learning
As a university, we have worked hard to ensure students whose placements have been disrupted by COVID-19 experience no further detriment in relation to their academic progress. We have therefore sought to develop strategies to mitigate potential delay and disruption further.

Within the BA programme, all our level 6 students were able to complete their 100 day placement and no changes have been required. Our level 5 students were on their first 70 day placement at the time of the lockdown and following discussion with the university and placement providers, students have been temporarily withdrawn.

The majority of students have completed between 40 to 50 days in placement. For these students we have established three assessment pathways which include options around assessment based on the existing portfolio of evidence and practice educator report, providing additional forms of assessment completed virtually by the university team and/or completion of outstanding days (for a small number of students).

All alternative assessments will be mapped to the PCF domains for end of practice 1. Each student's progress will be reviewed by staff and individual action plans completed to take into their final year placement. Where necessary, these will include specified additional number of days to add on to their final year placement.

Students on our MA programmes usually begin their placements in April (year 2) and May (year 1) respectively and these students have not been able to begin placements yet. We are in regular contact with our placement providers to review placement opportunities and are currently putting plans in place to begin student placements as soon as possible and in line with changes to lockdown restrictions. We are exploring with partners the potential to reduce placement days slightly to mitigate against unfair delay for students in completing their academic programme in order to progress, on qualify on schedule.

Changes to assessments
Within the university, students were all offered two potential extensions to their assessment deadlines to support students adversely affected by lockdown – these includes a two week extension or a lengthier extension until early July for students who faced longer term disruption. Students have been able to choose whether to submit within their original deadline or to choose one of these later dates. Outside of this process, individual students are still able to apply for mitigating circumstances if their individual situation makes this necessary.

We have had to make some changes to group presentation assessments on two modules which could not be delivered face-to-face on their scheduled dates due to lockdown. Alternative assessments were devised involving electronic submissions of the group presentation with additional group commentary equivalent of 1000 words. All other assessments across both programmes have been completed in the usual way.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All teaching and learning transferred to virtual online delivery during the week of lockdown (23 March 2020). The academic team have since delivered 4 weeks of virtual teaching including lectures, seminars, discussion boards and tutorials, including both synchronous and asynchronous learning sessions. In addition weekly virtual drop in information sessions have been provided for all student’s to offer academic and wellbeing support for students during this period.

York, University of

Adjustments to admissions process

Adjustments to practice-based learning

BA Students Final Placement:

We have adjusted the evidence requirements for students in their final placement. Students are now able to use relevant voluntary/paid work as evidence towards the PCF's and professional standards with the agreement of their practice educator. Students can also use written reflective or case study analyses as evidence where this is agreed with the practice educator. Students should not use these alternative forms of evidence for more than 50% of their final report. Students must now complete 1 direct observation as a minimum, although PE's may request that more than 1 is completed. We have lifted any 'days' requirements for these students and they can now complete the placement when they have met all the capabilities and standards and the PE recommends a 'pass'. Students who are not able to complete the programme on time due to suspended placements will be offered a number of options, including an extension to their programme, a period of leave to return to complete at a set future date and an option to take an alternative assessment to the placement and graduate with a non-qualifying degree.

MA Students First Placements:

Many MA first placements have been suspended, although students have been allowed to continue on placements where possible. In order for students to be able to progress to Year 2 we have provided an alternative written assessment to allow them to meet all the academic/credits requirements for progression to Year 2. We have varied the requirement for placement days over the full two years of the programme. The minimum number of days across the two years is now 140 and the maximum is 170. Students can choose to 'bank' the placement days they have completed this year. For example, if a student wanted to bank 20 days from this year- they would need to complete a minimum of 120 days in their placement next year. The number of 'banked' days must be agreed by the PE from the first placement. Students can choose not to bank any days if they feel the experience this year was too limited and disrupted and they would like to do more next year to compensate. Wherever possible, students with limited placement experience this year will be offered 'split placements' . They will begin in one setting and transition to a new setting after an agreed number of days. This allows students to gain broader range of contrasting experiences. Students who had the least numbers of placement days this year will be prioritised for these arrangements. 

Changes to assessments

MA 1 students:

The 'placement 1' module is now assessed by a written reflection (rather than meeting the PCF criteria - end of first placement') in order to allow students equal opportunity to gain the credits to progress into Year 2, regardless of the impact COVID-19 has had on their placements this year.

One other module assessment has been adjusted: The 'Developing Practice' module assessment relied on direct practice experience of assessment and intervention, which not all students had gained this year. The assessment has been am mended to a reflection of the impact of COVID-19 on social work.

Changes to the delivery of teaching and learning activity
All teaching and learning for the summer term is now delivered online. We are also delivering part of one module (Dissertation & Research) to MA1 students, who would normally receive this teaching in MA2. We have moved this forward to allow more placement days to be possible in Yr2 to make up for lost placement days next year. It remains uncertain if any of next years teaching will need to move online.

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