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Practice Education

Practice Education - Social Work 

Our practice education faculty is  responsible for a student’s learning and assessment in a practice placement

Practice educators either work in the same team as the student (an on-site practice educator) or in a different team / workplace (an off-site or "long arm" practice educator). They will normally be supported in their role by our Academy practitioners, other members of the team and often by a separate on-site supervisor/line manager who will manage the day to day activity of the student and contribute towards their formal assessment.

Student practice placements are often cited as the most significant part of the social work learning journey and practice educators are the people with the greatest role to play in making those placements an effective, inspiring and positive experience.

Who can be a practice educator?

To begin formal training as a practice educator you must be a:

  • registered social worker who is
  • practicing at experienced social worker level with at least
  • two years post qualifying experience

Before applying for a practice education course you will need to:

  • demonstrate your interest and commitment to practice education and learning through activities such as supporting students and other new staff in your team.
  • Offer shadowing days to Level 4 students starting out in their social work journey
  • complete or be willing to complete the  Placement Supervisors Workshops at Bournemouth University or other supervisory training.

Once you have gained experience of supporting learning informally and have decided that you are interested in getting more involved in practice learning you can consider taking the first formal step towards being a practice educator. This can be through taking responsibility for a student as on-site supervisor, which you can do without undertaking formal Continuing Professional Development (CPD) study or by applying for the Practice Educator Course at Bournemouth University. At this stage of your development as a practice educator you will be starting to work towards meeting the National Practice Educator Professional Standards (PEPS).

Being a work-based supervisor

The Placement Supervisor workshop is offered bi-annually (July and December) as a one day workshop hosted by Bournemouth University (BU) Practice Learning Team.  It is designed to be an interactive workshop for anyone who is new to supporting social work students or learners in the workplace, for those looking to refresh their knowledge on being a work-based supervisor, or practitioners considering applying for the Practice Educator post qualifying module qualification. The workshop gives an overview of Bournemouth University practice learning roles, responsibilities and assessment processes. In addition it reflects on core themes such as supervision skills and requirements, supporting social work students, and being an effective placement supervisor. It is an informal and reflective session where peers can discuss and exchange ideas, as well as developing their theoretical knowledge on supporting social work students at BU.

The Practice Educator Course at Bournemouth University

The Bournemouth University Practice Educator Course consists of two 20 credit post qualifying CPD Units which can be undertaken at either level 6 (H) or level 7 (M). Most candidates complete both units consecutively in approximately 15 months. It is however possible to exit at the end of Unit 1 as a stage 1 qualified practice educator and either end your studies there or take a break before completing Unit 2.

Unit 1: Enabling Work Based Learning (H and M level options) – provides a general introduction to work-based learning, including an introduction to the basic skills and knowledge needed to understand learning styles and teach and assess social worker students / newly qualified social workers. On successful completion of this Unit you will have met the PEPS at Stage 1 and be able to take full responsibility for first placement students and responsibility (with support and ratification from a Stage 2 practice educator) for final year placements.

Unit 2: Supervising a Student in Practice (H and M level options) - builds on knowledge gained in the first Unit and focuses specifically on teaching and assessing social work students in final practice placements. On successful completion of this unit you will have met the PEPS at Stage 2 and be able to take full responsibility for students at all stages and levels. Once you have gained the academic award you will need to support and host a social work student every 2 years to maintain currency in the role and you will receive an honorarium for each student you support and assess.

As a qualified Practice Educator, you will also be able to access the Practice Educator CPD days and Masterclasses facilitated by our Teaching Partnership with Bournemouth University.

Application and Selection Processes

You need to:

  1. complete a personal statement – an expression of interest
  2. your line manager will need to complete their testimony
  3. complete the university application online 
  4. an internal interview selection process will apply,

Social workers may want to consider this as part of meeting the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) requirements for Professional Leadership and career progression.

You will be able to take responsibility for a social work student as a work-based supervisor or mentoring a Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) by completing Unit 1 and for assessing a final year social work student or Assessed and Support Year in Employment (ASYE) Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) with the full award.

Registration of Practice Educators

Local authorities are required to maintain registers of Practice Educators with details relating to whether Practice Educators are up to date and currently able to provide practice teaching/assessment for student social workers. We continue to quality assure Practice Educators and supervisors across the county as part of our commitment to best practice and as lead member of the Teaching Partnership.

To maintain currency, all Practice Educators need to ensure that they hold the Practice Educator role in supporting at least one student or a Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) every two years, and submit a prescribed portfolio of evidence to a PEPS (Practice Educator Professional Standards for Social Work) panel from the point of qualification.

View the portfolio template, guidance, and examples

Practice Educator Stage 1/Stage 2: Development and Support Sessions

Groups are held approximately monthly and are part of BCP Council’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) offer to support Practice Educators and Workplace Supervisors and to meet Social Work England’s registration standards.

Sessions will last two hours with time to network. The sessions are informal and will give you the opportunity to discuss any queries you may have about the registration process and provide an opportunity to share resources, good practice, ideas and challenges, discuss current issues and support each other.

Additional Resource Materials for Practice Educators are available on our Pan Dorset and Wiltshire Teaching Partnership Practice Educator Hub.