Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Social work practice: combining inter-professional learning , research and service delivery within a higher education institution

Keywords: practice learning

Author: Jane Mclocklan (University of Hull)

In medicine, teaching hospitals exist to combine academic study with professional practice. At the University of Hull, England, The Family Assessment Support Unit ( FASU) is unique in that it is a social work agency directly attached to a higher education institution. It was created to provide social work responses to those facing family difficulties whilst providing high quality learning opportunities.
Twenty social work students are based in FASU at any one time from the BA and MA programmes for a 100 day placement. Their work revolves around support services to children and families in the city of Hull. FASU is therefore in an excellent position to facilitate links between theory practice and research. It is a natural repository for research and in a central position within the university to serve as a centre for inter-professional working and teaching.
Students learn directly from their support to clients in an environment that encapsulates teaching and research. Hence there is a natural partnership between higher education and service delivery.
There is a range of interdisciplinary opportunities for students to pursue alongside the core services of FASU. These include integrated placements with local schools. Here students can develop profession specific skills and competencies in a non traditional setting. This fits neatly with the governments 'big vision' for far reaching structural changes to the delivery of services for children, one of which is integrated teams in and around schools.
Mental Health nursing students undertake placements here in FASU. Again this is another example of inter-professional working and teaching within FASU and the wider university.

FASU is a well established model of good practice that can be shared (and indeed replicated) with other higher education institutions. It is a model where universities can develop an excellent teaching/ research environment and in turn offer something back to the local community.

Date: Friday 25 January 2008, 11.30-12.00

Venue: Carrick One

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).