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Whilst on Placement

Field education placements are structured in a way that is educationally viable so that goals and learning outcomes can be achieved.

Roles and Responsibilities of Students

Field education placements are a minimum of 500 hours in total for any one placement (as per AASW requirements). For a fulltime placement you will be required to attend a minimum 6 hours, and no more than 8 hours per day, within the agency’s normal operating hours.  

Part time placements of 3 or 4 days per week may be available by negotiation, subject to availability. No placement can be less than 3 days per week.

You are required to take a lunch break each day of placement. No lunch break should be less than half an hour, and you cannot accumulate hours towards your placement by taking shorter lunch breaks.  Lunch breaks are not counted in placement hours.

You will not undertake overtime, evening work, overnight shifts or weekend work unless this is part of agency practice and has been negotiated between yourself, the Primary Field Educator and UTAS. If occasions arise when you are required to undertake placement activities beyond normal working hours, you should negotiate with the Primary Field Educator to deduct this time from your regular schedule as soon as is practicable.

You are not able to accumulate extra hours in order to complete placements early. Students will expected to keep an accurate record of their placement hours and show this to their supervisor and liaison officer regularly throughout.

For reasons of safety and accountability, students are not permitted to work alone outside of normal agency business hours.

You will be expected to maintain a log of placement hours, to show the Liaison person at each visit, and to use to monitor your time whilst on placement. No planned leave of any kind may be taken during the placement period.

If you are unable to attend day/s of placement due to exceptional or unforeseen circumstances, such as extended sickness or bereavement, you are required to contact your field educator and the UTAS Field Education Officer as early as practicable to discuss whether it is possible to make up the hours at the placement agency. Arrangements to extend or adjust the placement may need to be made.

In the early weeks of the placement you will be expected to develop a learning plan (known as a ‘LePARD’ = Learning plan and reporting document’).

This is a ‘living document’ which you will add to and modify during the placement. It is also the place where feedback is noted, and assessments are progressively recorded.

The learning plan and reporting document (LePARD) sets out the learning objectives, tasks, strategies, evidence and methods of evaluation and is the reference point for the student’s learning throughout the placement.

It is expected that you will take responsibility for developing your potential. You will need to be prepared to be open to feedback and to take risks in your learning. To be actively involved in critical reflection and in appraising your performance.

You will complete two placement assessment reports (within the LePARD known as ‘mid-placement summary’ and ‘final placement report)’ in collaboration with your field educators. You will submit these according the instructions and due dates outlined in the Unit Outline.

You will keep a portfolio (using PebblePad) that documents evidence of your work, such as critical reflections, presentations, case studies and journaling throughout placement that will contribute to assessment of your progress and ability to meet the learning goals. You are required to regularly show and discuss your portfolio with your field educator during supervision, the liaison visit, and in the preparation of the mid placement summary and final report.

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

During placement, you will need to participate in formal, professional supervision with your Primary Field Educator or External Field Educator (social work). You may also participate in group supervision for up to half of the required supervision sessions.

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.

You are required to:

  • participate in regular supervision sessions, ensuring a minimum of 1.5 hours of formal professional social work supervision per week (or each 35 hours of placement time);
  • attend supervision with a prepared agenda of topics relevant to your learning goals and professional development;
  • keep a record of supervision sessions completed (individual and group), and ensure this is signed by yourself and your supervisor at the end of each session.
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. In the case of part time placements, this equates to approximately 1 hour per week for a 4-day placement and 1 ¾ hours every fortnight for a 3-day placement.

During the placement, there are 2 scheduled liaison visits, where a member of staff from the University will visit students in their placement agency. Students will be allocated a liaison person prior to placement commencing who will be the key contact for any issues arising or questions.

A successful placement requires clear direction about the purpose and requirements of the placement, open communication between all parties, a common understanding of roles and responsibilities and a commitment to discuss and resolve issues early. Liaison visits are a way to ‘check in’ on how students are settling in and progressing in their learning and provide a valuable 3-way conversation between the student, agency and University (and external supervisor if applicable).

Students will take the lead in negotiating and booking in suitable times for liaison visits, in conjunction with key timeframes set out in Key Dates 2019 (PDF 90KB).

You are required to attend integration or professional development sessions on campus during placement. These compulsory sessions are included in the placement hours in Key Dates 2019 (PDF 90KB).

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

Students enrolled in HGW403/613/409 Social Work Practicum 2 are also required to enroll in the co-requisite unit HGW411/616 Advanced Critical Practice (ACP). The placement period of 16 weeks (full time) incorporates 10 days associated with the co-requisite unit i.e. six days to complete 3x face-to-face intensives and on-line requirements of the unit and four study days that provide dedicated time to work on assessment tasks associated with HGW411/616. These 10 days have been factored in to the overall placement period and do not count towards placement (500) hours.

Students are also required to negotiate the dates for the four study days, considering both the student’s obligations with the placement agency, and the due date for assessment tasks within the first few weeks of placement.

See Key Dates 2019 (PDF 90KB) for dates and venues for the intensives. It is important for field educators and students to note the dates of these intensives for the planning of placement activities and recording student hours.

You will also participate in regular peer support sessions with fellow students who are undertaking placement. Peer support is intended to emulate a system of professional support, which practicing social workers are encouraged to build for themselves.

You will be expected to:

  • actively participate in 7 peer support sessions
  • prepare ahead and contribute to peer support sessions
  • follow UTAS guidance on peer support

You must not be in possession of, nor consume, alcohol or illegal substances on agency property, or come to placement under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances. Such acts will result in immediate termination of the placement with the student being requested to show why his/her enrolment in the degree should continue.

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

You are to uphold the UTAS Code of Conduct for Teaching and Learning for Students (PDF 32.5KB) and the AASW Code of Ethics 2010.

You are expected to take up opportunities for professional practice and participate in the work of the agency, including taking on social work tasks as soon as the field educator confirms the student is ready.

It is expected that you will continue to regularly check MyLO and your UTAS email throughout the duration of placement. Important messages in relation to placement, as well as training and PD opportunities are regularly posted to MyLO by Field Education Officers.

You are required to observe confidentiality of all agency matters, regarding information about agency clients as confidential, and ensure that you do not divulge this information in any way. In many circumstances, agency business, project work, and policies may also be confidential. You should talk to your field educators about how material relating to your placement may be used in the classroom or in written assignments.

You need to take great care to ensure that no client or confidential agency information is passed onto family or friends. In small communities, it may be possible to recognise a client even when information is “de-identified”.

You should be prepared, however, to share all information you have gathered in the course of your practical work with your field educators. This is a necessary part of effective critical reflection on the work undertaken. It is also necessary, as the field educator carries responsibility for your work and, in many agencies, is required to countersign notes or records written by you.

If the agency requires a signed statement regarding observance of confidentiality, this should be completed at the beginning of the placement as part of your orientation program.

You need note that failure to maintain confidentiality constitutes grounds for immediate termination of the placement and the awarding of a fail grade in the field education unit.

On occasions during the course and on Fieldwork placements, you may experience a range of personal problems, including depression or anxiety, adjustment problems or reactions to what they may be exposed to during work with clients. Social work supervision provided by your Field Educator or external supervisor is not counselling.

The counselling services at UTAS offer comprehensive professional, confidential and free counselling services to students that can assist in supporting them in such situations.

You must meet the dress code and expectations of their agency for the duration of their placement. These may relate to such things as visible tattoos, body piercings, wearing of jeans, mini-skirts, low cut pants or t-shirts, certain types of footwear and hair styling or colouring. You are advised to lean towards conservatism in your dress and personal presentation, and to ask about this at your pre-placement interview.

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 field educator/s and student during discussions either informally or in supervision, the liaison person should be contacted immediately. The liaison person will organise a visit to discuss and explore concerns raised, and will then discuss the concerns with the Field Education Officer, who will be referred to for advice and action, as required.

Where concerns cannot be resolved through initial discussion and clarification, a formal Performance Plan process will be enacted. Enrolled students can access further information and process via MyLO.

It is expected that students will raise and attempt to resolve any problems or differences that may arise on placement with field educators. If issues cannot be resolved in discussion, then the student and the field educator share responsibility for seeking support from the University.

Interpersonal

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. This process of clarifying issues, formulating ideas and plans and developing new insights can be a constructive one, advancing the learning and teaching opportunities of the placement.

If relationship difficulties continue despite attempts at resolution, the student and/or field educator will contact the liaison person in order to explore options or gain support for action. This is most important if the difficulties involve people crucial to the learning experiences.

Personal

Experiences on placement can be upsetting or personally confronting in a way not previously experienced or anticipated. Personal issues that arise during placement may have adverse effects on the student’s learning capacity and wellbeing. It is not the role of field educator, liaison person or the social work program staff to provide counselling or assistance on personal matters.

The counselling services at UTAS offer comprehensive professional, confidential and free counselling services to students that can assist in supporting them in such situations.

Key Support and their Responsibilities

The University of Tasmania social work program seeks to establish professional and collegial relationships and effective placement arrangements that are beneficial to students, field educators, agencies and the University. The social work program is 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.

UTAS Field Education Officers are members of the teaching staff in the social work program. Field Education Officers are located at the Sandy Bay, Newnham and Cradle Coast campuses and are responsible for all activities related to field education in their region. The Statewide Field Education Coordinator is currently based on the Cradle Coast. There is regular communication between the three field education team to ensure consistency across the state.

In preparation for placement, the Field Education Officer’s tasks include:

  • identifying student learning needs through interviews with students and consultation with other staff;
  • assisting students to prepare for placement including completing relevant documentation and UTAS;
  • developing and maintaining sustainable relationships with placement agencies and social work professionals;
  • delivering seminars to students and field educators in preparation for placement;
  • locating a range of placement opportunities that meet the learning requirements of the students;
  • allocating students to placements;
  • organising resources; and
  • providing information and support to liaison people and field educators.

While students are undertaking placements, Field Education Officers are responsible for:

  • managing student queries and concerns;
  • providing information, consultation and ongoing support to liaison staff and field educators, as required;
  • facilitating the integration sessions and professional development program for students undertaking placement;
  • ensuring that difficulties within placements are addressed and managed; and
  • monitoring progress, evaluations and grades, and 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 program within the agency, including proposing creative models of placement delivery;
  • support staff to engage in field education activities;
  • identify the resources that are available and/or need to be acquired to participate in the field education program, including support and professional development;
  • facilitate staff access to continuing professional development that enhances their skills in student teaching and supervision.

The field educator in an agency provides daily support and supervision and is crucial to facilitating a learning environment. A student may have two or more field educators involved in their placement and it is important that each field educator is clear about their role and familiar with the requirements of the placement, the liaison process and methods of assessment. The Primary Field Educator may or may not be a qualified social worker.

The Primary Field Educator is responsible for coordinating the assessment and ensuring that each student receives professional supervision. Professional supervision may be provided by the Primary Field Educator if they are a qualified social worker (eligible for full membership of the AASW) with a minimum of two years’ full-time practice experience, or part-time equivalent, who demonstrates a commitment to continuing professional education and an interest in developing social work knowledge and skills.

Field Educators:

  • Share relevant knowledge and practice wisdom with the student and demonstrate appropriate ethical, personal and professional standards of practice.
  • Ensure that the student's practice is observed and that students have the opportunity to both observe and to demonstrate their own professional practice.

When the Primary Field Educator is not a qualified social worker or does not meet AASW eligibility, it is important that the Primary Field Educator provides task supervision to the student, at least on a weekly basis in order to support the student’s learning and progress in the placement.

The role of the external field educator (social work) is crucial to the placement of students undertaking placement in an agency where the Primary Field Educator is not a qualified social worker (or is a social worker but does not yet meet the AASW requirements for providing student supervision in field education).  

The external field educator (social work) 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 and engaging with the Primary Field Educator, and contributing to the assessment of the student against the learning objectives for the placement.  

In the case where there is an external field educator (social work), it is important that the field educators and student meet together periodically throughout the placement. A meeting early in the placement is essential to discuss the placement opportunities, a meeting schedule, and the communication arrangements for the placement.

The liaison person’s role is to build a consultative relationship with the student and the field educator, providing a bridge between the University and the agency throughout the placement process.  Liaison people are responsible for maintaining regular contact with the student and the field educator / external 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 field educators early in the placement, conducting on-site visits and providing follow-up contact;
  • 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 and using this as the basis for the 2nd on-site visit; and
  • ensuring that any problems perceived by either the field educator or the student are addressed, documenting any performance issues and developing a plan to address them.