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Whilst on Placement

Throughout Fieldwork placements students continue to connect with UTAS staff, attend sessions and liaise with the Field Education team to monitor their progress, learning and development.

Roles and Responsibilities  - Students

Field education placements are a minimum of 500 hours in total for any one placement (as per AASW requirements).  Full time placements equate to 14 weeks.

Part time placements of 3  days per week may be available by negotiation, subject to availability. No placement is able to be less than 3 days per week.

Students are not able to accumulate extra hours in order to complete placements early. Students are expected to keep an accurate record of placement hours and provide this when asked.

Students on placement are expected to maintain a log of placement hours to monitor their time whilst on placement.

In times of sickness, bereavement, or where time off is needed, students need to contact their Field Education Officer as early as practicable to request approval for this and discuss whether it is possible to make up the hours at the placement agency.

In the early weeks of the placement students will develop a learning plan and use this throughout placement to identify goals, strategies and evidence that will meet required assessment expectations.  The Learning Objectives used to measure a student’s capability align with the AASW Practice Standards (2013) (PDF 505KB).

A large component of assessment during placement is built around critical reflection skills and evidencing this learning via a formal portfolio.

Field education units have the same status as academic units and are awarded academic credit accordingly. Field Education units are assessed as an ‘ungraded pass’ or ‘fail’.

During placement, students receive formal, professional supervision and this may also be provided alongside colleagues in a  group setting.

Supervision is regular, sanctioned time that provides a forum for support, development and in-depth reflection on practice, and is central to student’s learning throughout placement.

Supervision requirements from AASW:

A minimum of 1.5 hours of formal professional social work supervision for each 35 hours (approximately five days) of placement time as per AASW requirements.

During the placement there are formal 'checking in' points where students, placement agencies and UTAS staff liaise and connect to review the students progress.  Formal feedback is a great way for students to recognise skill development and build confidence, as well as to assist in setting goals for further areas of improvement.

Students are encouraged to utilise the prescribed texts as part of pre-placement preparation and as an aid whilst on placement and details of these will be available in MyLO.

It is expected that students will conduct themselves as a member of the agency while on placement. This includes dressing appropriately, using resources honestly and appropriately, adhering to agency hours, reporting illness  and cancelling appointments for that day, and generally conducting yourself in a professional manner.

Students are expected to are to uphold the UTAS Student Behaviour & Conduct Ordinance and the AASW Code of Ethics 2020.

Students will continue to regularly check MyLO and UTAS email throughout the duration of placement to stay in touch and ensure important information and messages are received.

Students need to observe confidentiality of all agency matters, regard information about agency clients as confidential, and ensure that they do not divulge this information in any way.   Some agencies may require a signed statement regarding observance of confidentiality, completed during induction.

On occasions during Fieldwork placements, students may experience a range of personal issues, including difficulties adjusting to workplace expectations or reactions to what they may be exposed to during work with clients. Social work supervision provided by the placement agency or external supervisor is not counselling.

The UTAS counselling services offers professional, confidential and free counselling services to students and is available via phone, video or face to face.

Students should meet the dress code and expectations of their organisation for the duration of their placement.

Most students complete their placements successfully without experiencing any major difficulties. However, at times there may be concerns raised about a student’s practice, skill level or behaviour. If concerns cannot be resolved between the organisation, social work supervisor and student during discussions either informally or in supervision, the Field Education team will work with students and agencies and enact formal processes where needed.

Interpersonal difficulties between the student and field educator and/or other agency staff can undermine effective work, motivation and confidence and, as such, need to be discussed and addressed in a constructive and mature manner using conflict resolution and negotiation skills.

Both the student and field educator are responsible for identifying problems if they do occur, to initiate open discussion and to negotiate changes in the teaching/learning experience to achieve a mutually satisfying resolution.  UTAS FEO's are available to assist students and agencies to manage this process.

Key partners  - Responsibilities

University of Tasmania values and appreciates the connection and relationships that we have with our community sector. The social work program seeks to establish professional and collegial relationships that support placement arrangements which are beneficial to students, organisations and the University. We are committed to:

  • engaging and consulting with agencies about placement arrangements;
  • seeking and considering feedback about the quality and content of academic and field education units and their relevance to contemporary social work practice, and;
  • promoting opportunities for practitioners to undertake post-graduate studies, including courses that may be available in field education and student supervision.

FEO’s are responsible for all activities related to PEP and value the opportunity to liaise and work with the community sector to create partnerships and opportunities that benefit students and organisations alike.

In preparation for placement, the FEO’s:

  • identify student learning needs relevant to their year level and skill;
  • assist students to prepare for placement including completing relevant compliance tasks;
  • deliver preparation sessions and information to students and organisations ahead of placement commencing;
  • locate a range and variety of placement opportunities that meet the learning requirements of the students;
  • allocate students to placement opportunities and peer learning groups;
  • Recruit, train and provide ongoing support to the casual fieldwork staff pool

Whist students are undertaking placements, FEO’s are responsible for:

  • providing information, consultation and ongoing support to organisations and casual field staff;
  • facilitate regular teaching opportunities to students undertaking placement
  • ensuring that difficulties with placements are addressed; and
  • monitoring progress of students learning, including reading assessment reports
  • complete final review of assessment documents and allocate grades, making the final decision on the grade recommended to the Board of Examiners.

The social work program encourages agencies to:

  • develop field education as a continuing commitment within their organization, supporting staff to undertake supervision responsibilities and potentially providing training opportunities aligning with that responsibility;
  • support staff involved to engage in PEP activities, including access to appropriate supervision and support for their educative roles;
  • think creatively about potential projects and areas of work that students can undertake within their organization, having a clear plan ahead of students commencing
  • prepare a thorough induction program for students
  • facilitate staff access to continuing professional development that enhances their skills in student teaching and supervision

The role of supervisor within an organisation is crucial to facilitating a positive learning environment. The supervisor within an organisation may or may not be a qualified social worker but will come with skills and abilities to guide students in their everyday tasks and projects.  The organization supervisor will be responsible for arranging project work and tasks for students to undertake during the placement, providing oversight and assisting to maintain focus and motivation.  They have regular contact with students and work closely with the FEO's and Social Work Supervisors to monitor and review student’s skill development.

Formal supervision, as required by AASW, is organized by the University of Tasmania via a recruitment and selection of qualified, experienced social work practitioners that meet the AASW requirements.  They support students on a weekly basis to unpack their experiences, link to theoretical frameworks, and provide a strong mentoring focus for emerging social work practitioners.

The role of Social Work Supervisors is key to assisting students to make connections, consolidate theoretical learning and ensure that students develop deep reflective skills whilst undertaking placement.    Social Work Supervisors provide clinical supervision throughout placement to students in both group and individual settings. They provide guidance on students learning plans, assist students to navigate difficult experiences, and provide valuable feedback on their learning and development.

The Social Work Supervisor is a member of the staff team employed by UTAS and  is responsible for providing the professional social work supervision as required by the AASW Supervision Standards (2014) (PDF 677KB) during the placement, supporting the student in their learning, communicating with organisations and contributing to the assessment of the student against the learning objectives for the placement.

The liaison person’s role is to build a consultative relationship with the student and the placement organisation,  responsible for maintaining regular contact with the student, organisation and social work supervisor and are paid staff members of UTAS.

Key aspects of the liaison role are:

  • monitoring the student’s performance, learning opportunities and documentation;
  • providing supportive educational consultation;
  • mediating and problem solving.

Key tasks of the role include:

  • making contact with students and organisations throughout placement;
  • assessing that the learning environment provides the student with appropriate opportunities for learning and practice development;
  • reviewing and providing feedback to the student about their placement progress including their Learning Plan and Final Placement Report (LePARD);
  • reviewing the Mid-placement Summary
  • ensuring that any problems perceived by either the organisation or the student are addressed, documenting any performance issues and developing a plan to address them.