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An update for students and education providers

A statement from our chief executive Colum Conway to social work students and education providers delivering social work courses.

An update for students and education providers

5/12/2020 3:00:00 PM


We have the greatest respect for social work students, the next generation of social workers, who will play a key role in helping people cope with challenges for years to come - hopefully in a society either free of or adapting to COVID-19.

With so much uncertainty about how long social restrictions will be in place, we know that students may be feeling anxious about their careers and their ability to graduate or progress with their courses. We acknowledge the issues that are being raised, both to us and to course providers, and that there is disruption to placements and achieving certain learning outcomes – these are unfortunate but out of our control as the regulator. What we can assure you is that our aim is to support your education provider as much as we can and minimise the regulatory demands on them wherever possible, both to minimise disruption to courses as much as possible and to ensure that students can complete their studies.

That is why we are working closely with them to remove barriers and make adjustments to courses where necessary, so they can manage their own response to COVID-19 based on their local arrangements and what’s best for students on each course. We encourage students to continue reading any official advice from your education or training provider, and to talk with your college or university staff to understand what arrangements are being made for your course.

We are seeing providers working hard to find new and creative ways to facilitate the completion of placements days, to identify and implement new learning opportunities and to deliver teaching and learning so that, wherever possible, students can graduate on time or progress within their course. It is clear to us that education providers and students are not only addressing challenges that deal with the current situation, but they are in fact finding opportunity and assessing existing structure to find new and improved ways to deliver future learning.

Society is building a new relationship with social workers that will hopefully last much longer than the difficult times we are in. For those completing placement days or in training, we are getting lots of feedback on how they are discovering new skills, partnerships and resources in their communities.

We recently acknowledged that many students want to support local services and we have had enquiries asking whether final year students will be accepted onto the register. This is not currently in our plans, but we will keep this under close review in discussion with our partners, as we continue assessing supply and demand and local needs.

We are also hearing that some students may want to consider volunteer roles or roles which do not require social work registration and we encourage them to discuss this with their course provider.

Let me reiterate that we support providers’ efforts to ensure that students who are ready to graduate are encouraged to apply to join the register. Students should discuss what specific arrangements have been put in place in relation to progression and/or graduation with their course provider. We have received a good response to our request for information from education providers on what adjustments are being made to their courses, and these can be found on our website.

For education providers looking for additional guidance, our education quality assurance officers are more than happy to discuss further with you or you can email [email protected]

Finally, we continue to wish all students well in their studies during this challenging time.

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