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305 – Professional Identity of Social Work – Chandi Patel

This paper is concerned with academics, students and key stakeholders experiences of social work courses particularly in relation to professional identity, professional practice and employability. Periodically social work education has been criticised for its failure to prepare students for the real world of social work practice. The arguments being that there exists a gulf between academic teaching and actual practice. It has been suggested that this impacts on service user experiences and the employability of social work graduates. The paper will explore the development and the consolidation of professional identity of students during the course of their journey from admissions to graduation.   Practice education will be explored as a key area in social work as it is designed to bridge the gap between the theoretical world of academe and the real world of professional practice. This comprises 50% of curriculum time and provides students with the opportunity to apply validate and integrate what is learnt in the university. How students engage with the practice components and make links to theory is a critical area that needs addressing. The further development of practice education also leads to better partnership working between students, employers and higher education institutions and in the enhancement of the quality of Social work programmes. The needs of the service users (clientele) will be examined within the context of their involvement in the student journey from admission to graduation. Currently service users are involved in the recruitment of students, the design of the curriculum and its delivery, the assessment of students and quality processes.  This paper has been developed by the Head of Department of Social Work, Social Care and Community Studies, in conjunction with key stakeholders including students, practice assessors and service users. It will be jointly delivered with a student and service user/lead.