This book is an excellent addition to the practice educator’s toolkit both in terms of how it accurately captures some of the key challenges for social work academics and practice educators in supporting struggling students on placement, but also for its convenient, portable size. The author addresses many of the pressures and tensions evident within social work practice education. For example, Finch explores some of the concerns that have been expressed with regard to the quality and quantity of practice placements, the perception of low failure rates and the reluctance of practice educators to fail students. Despite the existence of respective standards, codes and frameworks for assessing the suitability of students in social work practice in the UK, the task remains inherently subjective, with labels such as ‘marginal’ or ‘failing’ at odds with professional values. Yet, the importance of recognising when students may not, for whatever reason, demonstrate suitability for the social work profession is imperative. The book reflects, as those familiar with practice educating will know, how it is often much harder to fail rather than pass a student on placement, not least due to the amount of contra-evidence required, but also as a result of the emotional impact upon both student and educator. Contained within its pages are a range of useful reflective exercises and tools designed to aid the practice educator to manage any difficulties which may arise in addition to making sense of, and where appropriate to challenge, their own thoughts and feelings. The book is divided into five logical and easy-to-follow chapters that cover the historical development and reformation of social work education; how to identify a struggling student; understanding the emotional impact upon practice educators; assessment strategies for working with students who are struggling; and ways of working with key stakeholders in social work education. Finch provides clear and constructive advice and guidance in how to be robust yet flexible in one’s approach to student support and assessment, which includes having clear channels of communication between practice educator and student and to follow procedures and assessment criteria. On pages 98 and 99, Finch presents a model of ‘Ten essential building blocks for constructive working relationships’, which is useful for all working relationships, not just in practice education. The model helps the reader to consider issues of power as well as to recognise some of the tactics that may be employed in difficult circumstances. In summary, this book is an easy-to-follow guide that has relevance for practice educators and university tutors at both national and international levels. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.
The British Journal of Social Work – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 2, 2018
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