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Going Full Circle by Laura Newman, Alan Kemp and Fern Basnett #careexperiencedresearch

The Transition from Service User to Student Social Worker



Journal Article

There is increasing emphasis on the importance of service user input to social work education, yet there is very little research that considers those who have made the transition from service user to becoming a qualified Social Worker. One reason for this is the low numbers of care leavers achieving high grades within academia, and therefore failing to secure a place in Higher Education (HE). Research suggests a widening gap in attainment between non-care leavers and care leavers and low expectations of achievement by both Social Workers and carers as being contributory factors. This was not however the case for two Care leavers, who successfully graduated in BA (Hons) Social work. This paper uses a narrative approach to explore service users’ experiences with reference to Kolb’s (1984) model of learning and lifespan perspectives, and in doing so, challenge some stereotypical views relating to care leavers failing to achieve in education. Recommendations include raising Social Worker awareness that care leavers can be resilient, and make a positive contribution to the field of social work, by the use of their personal experience in order to promote a good standard of practice within the UK (Health and Care Professions Council, 2012) and internationally (Jackson and Cameron, 2012). Further research is needed in this area, including looking more specifically at barriers and advantages to Care leavers entering professional social work and formal tracking of care leavers who enter the social work profession. care leavers can successfully go full circle from receiving support from Local Authority (LA) Social Services, to delivering quality social work and can potentially have a key role in enabling other young people who have been in a similar situation

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