The Impact Advisory Group provides a vital link between the research team and professional social work with members including social work practitioners, training managers, service users and representatives of the HCPC, HEA and Unison. In June the group came together for a rich discussion over two days to explore the ways in which findings from WiSP could be developed into resources to improve the effectiveness of professional social work writing. There were many great ideas that arose from discussions but some common themes emerged including the view that social workers are engaged in writing tasks which are high stakes, time consuming and complex. Three of the routes to impact on practice that were identified were through engaging with:
- the regulator and employers to generate policy change
- higher education providers of qualifying courses to develop flexible teaching resources
- employers and training departments to support CPD, particularly through the ASYE
An important issue that was recognized in terms of informing policy change was that while the representation of writing in the standards overseen by the regulator (currently HCPC) are important, these are not flexible to change and are at a necessarily high level. Guidance, however, is easier to change and so can provide information and advice at a more detailed level which is more responsive to change. Guidance currently comes from many sources, including BASW and the HEA.
An exciting proposal arising from the workshop was that WiSP should lead in the development of a repository of flexible resources which could be used and adapted by both university educators and practitioners involved in training, mentoring and line management. Resources for this repository could be initially developed based on findings from WiSP, but in time could form the basis for crowdsourcing resources from practice and higher education which could be shared and evaluated. One idea was a resource based on students undertaking a ‘treasure hunt’ to seek out examples of specific types of text collected from their own practice but also from shadowing / observing. The task could include a digital passport / badge to record texts collected based on gaming to motivate participation. This (and other) activities could be extended and enriched by embedding the facility to add reflections, case studies and a ‘like’ function.
The treasure hunt was just one of the exciting ideas that arose from discussions and the research team and Impact Advisory Group will continue exploring possibilities with the aim of developing an initial repository on this website in 2018/19.
Dr Lucy Gray
Chair of the Impact Advisory Group