Understanding and improving practice learning experiences and outcomes for BAME social work students

This session took place as part of the 2020 Conference. The presenters were Hannah Jobling, Kelly Devenney, Jenny Threlfall, Polly Sykes.


Social work students from black and ethnic minority backgrounds have poorer continuation rates and attainment outcomes compared to their white peers (Fairtlough et al, 2013). Placements appear to be a particular site of difficulty for BAME students, where they are more likely to experience referral, placement breakdown and fails (Hillen and Levy, 2015). At 170 days in total, placements make up a large proportion of social work programmes, and are integral to student success overall. Placements are the most complex part of the social work programme to administer and assess, as they involve a disparate range of practice settings and actors, and practitioners are the primary decision-makers on whether to pass or fail students.

In this context, the social work teaching team at York successfully applied to the 2019-20 York Widening Participation Initiative to carry out a project exploring placement experiences and outcomes for our BAME students. The project draws on qualitative and quantitative data to inform knowledge exchange with our placement partners on good practice with BAME students. In this presentation we report on the early findings of the project, focusing on the main areas of challenge, and on the key messages for improvement in placement practices. Whilst the project is grounded in social work placements, the findings will hold relevance for any programme which involves practice – based learning. The presentation speaks to the themes of ‘building inclusive learning communities’ and ‘diverse learning and assessment strategies’.

You can access the recording of this session at this link here:

Understanding and improving practice learning experiences and outcomes for BAME social work students (UoY Panopto log-in required)

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