Students need to be given the opportunities and support to make the choices they want to make about placements in these uncertain times.
BASW calls for co-ordinated action
Social Work England, the social work regulator for England has provided interim guidance on support for social work students during the outbreak of COVID-19 and has stated:
‘In these exceptional circumstances, it may be that placements need to be extended or completed at a later stage in order to meet the standards, but wherever possible we are trying to minimise the impact on students and we’ll continue to keep you updated whenever we can’.
BASW has received over 1,200 responses to our COVID - 19 survey and a number of student responses have highlighted concerns about not wanting to remain in their placements but feeling pressured to do so and that if they don’t they fear it will jeopardise their graduation and career prospects .
The government has not included ‘students’ as key workers in their national guidance and social work fastrack programmes including Think Ahead and Frontline are based on the majority of the participants being in practice for the duration of the programme.
There is no national co-ordinated approach to support students at this time, some students/participants want to remain in placements, and some do not. Some want to undertake direct face to face contact and others do not. The sector needs to create the opportunities for students to make their own decisions without a detrimental impact on their future career pathway.
Funding will be key to create opportunities for students to defer their placement as well as the flexibility of the HEI and placements providers to respond to working in unprecedented times.
BASW calls upon the government, Social Work England, HEIs, placement providers, Student Finance England to develop a co-ordinated transitional national action plan to support social work students at this time.