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Reflecting on an open learning culture

In this blog, regional engagement lead Matthew discusses how you can foster an open learning culture in your work, and how to use it for meaningful CPD.

Reflecting on an open learning culture

10/2/2020 3:53:40 PM

In our third ‘reflecting on’ blog, designed to help you reflect on issues that affect social workers today, we consider why being part of an open learning culture is essential to social work practice and how you can achieve this, no matter where you are working. You can use the prompts in this blog to help you do CPD and meet standard 4.5.

Standard 4.5 says that “As a social worker, I will contribute to an open and creative learning culture in the workplace to discuss, reflect on and share best practice.” We ask that you demonstrate this in your CPD because it’s incredibly important to make sure you’re working in an environment that allows you to learn, develop and share on an ongoing basis. By discussing what you’ve learned with your peers, whether that’s feedback from someone you support, an interesting article, or sharing good practice, you help others to learn as well.

It might feel difficult to create an open learning culture at this time, when so many of us are separated from both colleagues and those we support. Many of you will be missing the supportive community of an office or shared workspace. But, now more than ever, it’s essential to connect with other social workers to inspire conversation and learning. Thankfully, you don’t have to be in the same physical space to do this. Whether you’re a natural with group video chats, or you prefer connecting via email or phone call, you can be part of an open learning culture.

If you’re an independent social worker, you might be wondering what an open learning culture looks like for you. You can still meet this standard even if you’re not part of a team. The majority of social work roles and tasks completed by independent social workers will bring you into contact with either other social workers, or other professionals. This will present you with opportunities to share, reflect and discuss, perhaps in a more informal setting. This could be you sharing your practice experience, or your knowledge of a piece of legislation, case law, or guidance. These conversations and discussions can present positive learning opportunities and encourage the cycle of experience, reflection, learning and change within the profession.



These prompts offer suggestions of conversations you could have with peers or other professionals, either one-on-one, or in a group. You can use these activities as the basis for CPD recording.

  • Discuss some feedback you’ve received from someone you supported this year. How did it affect your practice going forward? Did you take any learning from it? If other social workers have had similar experiences, can they share any examples or offer any guidance? Consider whether there are different approaches you or others can use. (Standard 4.1 and 4.5)
  • Discuss a current event that is affecting your practice – for example, something in politics. How have you each dealt with the impact of this? Can you offer any advice to each other? (Standard 4.4 and 4.5)
  • Arrange to take some time to read a piece of research, a theory or a framework relating to social work. You could all read about the same one and then discuss together, or each read something different and then share with your group. (Standard 4.3 and 4.5)
  • Discuss, consider and reflect on the values that are important to you. How do they differ from those of your peers/other professionals? Consider the impact of your values on your work, and how your approach may be different as a result. (Standard 4.5 and 4.8)
  • Take time to discuss your learning with your supervisor, manager or peers. You could discuss ongoing cases and issues arising them, talk through the impact your work has on you, and review your decision-making. You could ask how they would approach the same scenarios – what is their perspective, and what would they do differently? (Standard 4.2 and 4.5)

Don’t forget, you meet standards 4.6 and 4.7 automatically by recording CPD.

Remember to anonymise your CPD. If you are talking about a specific person or case, you must leave out or remove any details that could identify someone.

For guidance on using your online account to record CPD, watch our video guide. You can also find resources, such as further information on what counts as CPD, on the CPD section of our website.

We also offer CPD drop-in sessions regionally, to answer any questions you might have about CPD. Please contact the regional engagement lead for your area for dates and times. Visit this page to find out who your regional engagement lead is, and click their name to access their email address

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