SWAN is clear in it's stand against the privatised education schemes Frontline and Step Up. Deliberately undermining existing social work courses, and drastically reducing the scope of education upon which practitioners can base their practice, SWAN is deeply concerned about the growing moves to prioritise these courses above all others across the UK. As debate grows apparently preparing the way for a permanent split between Adult and Children and Families social work education, one social worker reflects upon the role of rounded education:
A plea for social work to be recognised
Per Ardua Ad Alta – through hard work to great heights! Graduating as a social worker is just the beginning of a journey. When I graduated following the completion of my social work degree I remember my tutor saying to me “Your greatest achievements are yet to come and it’s important that you put into practice what you have learnt here”. Recently, when I graduated from The University of Birmingham the Vice-Chancellor and Principal gave a passionate speech and he said: ‘You will carry the richness of your experience at this university with you into an exciting and challenging future’. I have learnt many things as a student and as a social worker. That learning has led me here today to ensure that I continue to raise the platform of the social work profession.
Social work is at its best when social workers are encouraged to think broadly and reflect on their practice. There is a current debate about the social work profession being divided between adult and children social work. I am against the idea because as social workers we do not just assess one person, we look at the situation holistically. The government must allow social workers more opportunities to share their practice experience and this is not happening. There is too much emphasis being placed upon what social workers should be doing, and rather we should be focusing our attention on positive outcomes. Excellent practice means putting the service user first and giving them the opportunity to share their stories.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron was recently in my neck of the woods in Birmingham doing what he does best, talking. Of course, I wanted to be present however with a packed diary and a tight schedule, as a front line social worker, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with all the demands put on us! However, I am sure that there will be ample opportunity for us to meet and discuss the future generation of social workers in the near future. I have no doubt when I do meet with Mr Cameron, my honourable friend will get use to my straight talking and take on board some of my comments as a social worker. In the midst of many distractions and with all the talk of saving money I was surprised, as many were, that MPs were given an 11% pay rise. I have no doubt this pay rise was well deserved as is the pay rise for the hard working social workers who only received a 1% in comparison. It is important that social workers continue to be involved in the future discussions about social work. I am sure that the Prime Minister would appreciate my comments - after all he will agree enthusiasm should never be quelled!
Moving forward it is vital that we continue to hold debates about the role of social workers and it is important for any change to better rather than to divide a profession. More discussion with the right people from the correct backgrounds is imperative. Intellectual curiosity with practical application must continue to play a vital role in nurturing the next generation of social workers, to ensure that they can stand up to those very people in power who seek to diminish our roles!
Note: Imran, the author, has made the decision to leave the social work profession and explore other avenues.