Student Placements

An essential part of Social Work student’s training is to have a placement in a work setting, which enables them to register as a Social Worker at the end of their course with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).  The university where the student is taking their course needs to work with social work service providers to arrange these placements.  Cambridgeshire County Council work with Anglia Ruskin University mainly to provide up to 30 placements a year, these placements are offered in all areas of Children, Families and Adults services.  Students complete a 70 day placement and a 100 day placement, they also have to complete 30 skills based days offered within the university.  These 200 days are the requirement for professional registration.

Provision of a social work placement is a key element for Social Work practitioners to demonstrate professional leadership, their commitment to their profession and to the development of others.  It is evidence of the CPD activity required by the HCPC for re-registration.  The Social Work Development Team offer support and training to Social Workers to develop their skills in this area of practice through a training pathway. We would advise anyone interested in following this pathway to discuss this with their manager and to include it in their appraisal documentation.

Managing and Supervising Learners

Any Social Worker wanting to provide a placement for a student needs to have completed this 3 day course first.  The course will provide you with the knowledge and skills to set up a placement, an understanding of the learning process and blocks to learning, supervision and feedback skills and how to manage the assessment process.  It is expected if you take the course you will be taking a student on placement from the next academic year.

On Site Supervisor role

Following the course you will then be allocated a student to work with and you will have the support of an Off Site Practice Educator, usually this will be an experienced Practice Educator within Cambridgeshire County Council who is not in a role where they can provide an On Site placement.  As an On Site supervisor you have to supervise your student, allocate and manage their work and contribute to their Learning Agreement, Midway and Final Assessment.  You will probably complete 1 direct observation of your student in a practice situation. Completing the work with your first student as an On Site Supervisor is the best preparation for the next step to taking on the Practice Educator role.

Practice Educator status

In order to take on this role you need to have 2 years post qualifying experience, this role is more intensive as you will be managing the whole of the placement, work allocation, supervision and assessment of the student.  The requirements and skills needed for the role are defined in the Practice Educator Professional Standards

In order to meet the standards we will sponsor you to take a 30 credit module supplied from Anglia Ruskin University ‘Practice Education and Supervision in Social Work’  

We have up to 15 places yearly for this course, to access the funding you will need to complete an application form and have the support of your manager and team, ensure that you clearly state your reasons for wanting to take the course and that your team is in a position to take a student.  Please return application forms to by the end of May for allocation of places and students in the following September. 

As part of the course you will be allocated a mentor who will provide you with one to one support on at least 3 occasions, and will observe your supervision sessions twice and write a report for feedback to you.  This is an essential part of the course that is a requirement for meeting the Professional Standards.  Mentors are Practice educators who have a least had experience of 2 placements themselves.

Allocation of Students

We finalise numbers of students with the universities usually by the middle of the preceding academic year.  Once we have received the student’s profile and met them all to discuss their preferences for placement, plus got the details of who is able to offer a placement we will start to match you with a student.  We will then send you details of the student and ask if you will interview them to ascertain their suitability for your team.  You are able to reject them if you do not feel that they are a fit with you or the team.  You then arrange a date for the placement to start and inform us of the date using the Placement Acceptance form.

Quality Assurance in Practice Learning

Any university placing a social work student needs to assure itself that the placement provided is able to meet the student’s learning needs.  At the learning agreement meeting they will complete a quality audit of the provision offered by your placement. In Cambridgeshire we also ask you to provide a Placement and Personal Profile to indicate what work your placement does, and what experience you have to teach.  This information is shared with the student prior to them visiting you for the first time.  At the end of the placement you will be asked to fill in an Online survey on your experience of the placement and the student will be asked to do the same.

We want to ensure all students coming for a placement in Cambridgeshire services are offered a safe and full learning opportunity and that this will give them a positive and welcoming introduction to working within our social work services.  We provide a wide range of experiences in both Adults and Children’s services and will include and offer any area of practice as long as there is a social worker working in the team for a final year placement, or the service is linked to social work for a first level placement.  Your role is vital in this process, every year we want to build on the excellence of this learning experience by increasing the skills of our On site supervisors and Practice Educators, all of whom give willingly of their time and expertise to support students.  If you would like to be part of this please contact the SW Placements inbox or phone Karen Rodgers for further discussions.