14th January 2004

 

SOCIAL WORKERS FOR SCHOOLS

 

School pupils used to be told: “If you’ve got a problem, tell the teacher.”

 

Now pupils in nine Hull schools can confide in a student social worker thanks to a pioneering partnership between the city council, Hull schools and the city’s two universities.

 

Twenty Social Work students from the University of Lincoln and the University of Hull are currently on placements at primary and secondary schools across the city.

 

This is the second year that the student social workers will be working in schools, following a successful pilot scheme last year.

 

Practice placements are a compulsory part of the Social Work degree, and this new scheme aims to make social work placements in schools a regular feature.

 

In addition to a designated teacher in the school, each Social Work student on placement is supported by a practice teacher and a link worker at Hull Social Services, providing the student with additional professional support.

 

“The students work with the children on issues like bullying, building self-esteem and behaviour management, and also give individual counselling,” said Lynne Wilson, a senior lecturer in Social Work at the University of Lincoln in George Street.

 

“All the students involved have passed their placements, so from a professional training point of view it’s been very successful.”

 

Lynne says the scheme has been well received by both primary and secondary schools. “The parents have really valued having someone on site to talk to about their concerns, and some schools have been able to develop new projects aimed at providing additional support to pupils,” she explained.

 

“The project involves complex work and is in many ways breaking new ground in working together with other professionals. It’s not been without its difficulties, but so far the experience has been very positive all round.”

 

Jonathan Parker, Head of Social Work at the University of Hull, explained that this pioneering project anticipated many of the proposals in the recent Green Paper for children, ‘Every Child Matters’, which looks towards closer working practices and integration between education and social services.

 

“The current social work agenda focuses on professionals learning to work together collaboratively and to ensure that children, young people and families receive the services they need at one accessible point.

 

“The project allows social workers in training to study and learn with other professionals in a way that will enhance their future practice.”

 

It is hoped that the scheme will be extended in the future to include schools in the East Riding and south of the Humber.

 

Two schools which have had a particularly positive experience are Thorpepark Primary School (Mrs Wallace 854632) and David Lister (Mr Cook 376304). They are happy for reporters to call for more information and comment.

 

For more details contact:

 

Jez Ashberry                                                                Tracy Fletcher

University of Lincoln                                                     University of Hull

Tel: 01522 886042                                                       Tel: 01482 466943

email: jashberry@lincoln.ac.uk                                      email: t.fletcher@hull.ac.uk