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Return to Social Work: Learning Materials

Shadowing practice guide

Guidance from The College of Social Work (TCSW, 2012) states that understanding of the social work role and context can be developed through ‘work shadowing opportunities’ for students undertaking social work training. This is equally applicable to social workers who may have had a break from practice and wish to return.

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has set out some requirements for returning social workers that have to be met in order to register as a social worker in England. You can find out more about these in Module 1 of the return to social work open-learning package; a summary of this guide and a selection of the included exercises are also included in Module 1: Returning to social work.

As you consider how to begin the process of coming back to social work and meeting the HCPC requirements, you might choose to use some of your days of preparation by shadowing a professional social worker.

Shadowing can provide you with a range of experiences – including understanding the organisation of social work and the range of roles a social worker in current services may perform. However, regardless of the type of shadowing experience you are looking for there are some key things you will need to consider.
This guide is designed to help you think about and make the most of your shadowing as a learning opportunity that will contribute to your capabilities as you return to practice.