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Support for students during the COVID-19 outbreak

Advice for students from executive director of registration and quality assurance Philip Hallam.

Support for students during the COVID-19 outbreak

3/20/2020 5:00:32 PM

Throughout this emergency, social work students must remember how much they are valued by the sector and how much we all want to support them.

You, the next generation of social workers, are more eagerly anticipated than ever before. Your universities and colleges have embraced our new standards enthusiastically in order to deliver a cohort of hugely committed and talented graduates ready for this new era of social work.

We understand that your disrupted courses and cancelled placements, particularly at this point in the academic year, must be hugely frustrating. We recognise that you are urgently looking for resolutions so you can start practising when you had planned to. So many of you are ready to put your new skills into practice, to the benefit of communities all over the country. On top of this, we recognise that many of you are dealing with new uncertainties in your daily lives, from financial and accommodation stresses to the impact of COVID-19 on your friends and family.

It is important to remember that your courses and qualifications are so prized because they have been designed with key partners in your local regions – local authorities, health services, third sector organisations and more. Individually, we give education providers the flexibility they require to provide the right courses for their areas. Collectively, we make sure they meet our national standards and provide students with the ability to register with us and provide a high standard of social work practice to the public.

The far-reaching events of this week were surprising and unanticipated. Institutions all over the world entered an unknown realm – and everyone wanted answers. We appreciate that you have looked to your new regulator for these answers when your course providers have also faced uncertainty. Social Work England has been working non-stop to assess the impact and keep everyone informed, including the future employees of our sector.

We are working with providers to facilitate adjustments to courses wherever possible. The goal is to keep disruption to a minimum where placements can continue. In these exceptional circumstances, it may be that placements need to be extended or completed at a later stage in order to meet the standards, but wherever possible we are trying to minimise the impact on students and we’ll continue to keep you updated whenever we can.

We recognise that many students want to support local services. At present we are not registering students as part of the emergency registration efforts. As ever the picture is continually changing and this is something that we will be seeking to continue dialogue on with our partners over the coming weeks. It may also be worth speaking with your course provider to discuss how you can be appropriately supported if you wish to volunteer to act in an assistant social work role, and if there is need within your local area. Should this be accommodated, your course provider will also be able to consider if the work that is being completed can be considered as part of your placement.

We will of course keep you updated on our dedicated coronavirus page and on Twitter @SocialWorkEng.