Learning in practice: Some reflections on the student’s journey
Learning in practice has ‘long been recognized as an important part of developing and maintaining high standards of practice’ (Thompson 2006: 1). Much of this learning necessarily takes place ‘live’, in the workplace where social work practice actually happens. Work-based learning provides opportunities for social care workers to gain experience to enable entry to social work training programmes, for social work students to demonstrate evidence of their ability to apply their academic learning to practice, and for qualified practitioners at every stage of development to learn directly from critical reflection on their day-to-day work. This chapter takes a look at the journey of the social worker as a learner in practice from entry to qualifying training, through student Practice Learning Opportunities (PLOs) in their own workplace, to the first six months of qualified practice. The authors are social work educators, based in Scotland and England, with experience of facilitating both academic and practice learning. In this chapter we will variously be setting the research examples within an English or Scottish policy context. We hope this will allow readers to gain an understanding of different influences on learning in practice in different parts of the United Kingdom (UK).