Practice Education Network for Social Work (PENSW): Evaluation of an online resource


  • Jackie Plenty University of Suffolk
  • Heidi Dix University of Suffolk
  • Louise Barley University of Suffolk



The Practice Education Network for Social Work (PENSW) is an online resource for networking and sharing knowledge and information that is accessed by all the professionals and partner agencies involved in providing social work placements and supervising social work students at the University of Suffolk (UOS) in the United Kingdom (UK). This research explored the ease with which such networks can be set up, and offers an evaluation from network members. Given limited national resources and the need to provide more localised resources; this evaluation demonstrates the importance of providing an easily accessible virtual space for organisations and professionals to access resources, network, and share best practice. The findings suggest that all social work training programmes should consider providing a localised network to support the social work placement process by ensuring that supervisors of social work students have access to necessary  documentation, research, and information so that they can effectively fulfil their roles, and stay connected to the programme provider and other professionals involved in social work student practice placements.

Keywords: social work placements; supervision; networking; resources; information sharing; practice education.

Author Biographies

Jackie Plenty, University of Suffolk

Senior Lecturer in Social Work Specialising in Practice Education

Heidi Dix, University of Suffolk

Lecturer in Social Work

Louise Barley, University of Suffolk

Social Work Administrator


Boafor, S (2014) Statutory vs non-statutory social work practice placements: does it really matter? Community Care. February 17 2015. Online: Accessed on 02/04/2016.

British Association of Social Work (2012) Social Media Policy. Birmingham: British Association of Social Work.

Fang, L., Mishna, F., Zhang, V., Van Wert, M. and Bogo, M. (2014) Social Media and Social Work Education: Understanding and Dealing with the New Digital World, Social Work in Health Care, 53, 9, 800-814.

Galley, D and Parrish, M (2014) Why are there so few Male Social Workers. Guardian 25 July 2014. Accessed on 10/03/2016

Grant, G. B and Grobman, Z. M (1998) The Social Workers Internet Handbook. Horrisburg: White Hart Communications.

Health and Care Professions Council (2012) Standards of Proficiency: Social Workers in England. HCPC. Online: Standards ofproficiency-SocialworkersinEngland.pdf. Accessed on 27/01/2016

Jasper, C (2014) It’s time we paid proper attention to the role of practice educators in social work practice education. Community Care, 4 March 2014. Accessed on 10/03/2016.

Kimball, E. and Kim, J. (2013) Virtual Boundaries: Ethical Considerations for Use of Social Media in Social Work. Social Work, 58,2 185-188.

Lune, H., Pumar, E.S. and Koppel, R. (2010) Perspectives in Social Research Methods and Analysis: A reader for sociology. London: Sage.

Martinez, R. C and Clark, C. L (2000) The Social Workers Guide to the Internet. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Mukherjee, D. and Clark, J (2012) Students’ participation in social networking sites: implications for social work education. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 32, 2, 161-173.

Narey, M. (2014) Making the education of social works consistently effective. Department of Education.

Plenty, J and Gower, D (2013) The reform of social work practice education and training and supporting practice educators. Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 12, 2, 48-66.

Preston-Shoot, M. Roberts, G. and Vernon, S. (1997) ‘We work in isolation and in ignorance occasionally’: On the experiences of practice teachers teaching and assessing social work law. Social Work Education, 16, 4, 4-34.

Robbins, S. and Singer J. (2014) From the Editor: The Medium Is the Message: Integrating Social Media and Social Work Education. Journal of Social Work Education, 50:3, 387-390.

Schaub, J. and Dalrymple, R. (2013) Surveillance and silence: New considerations in assessing difficult social work placements. Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 11, 3, 79-97.

Schoech, D (1999) Human Services Technology: Understanding, Designing and Implementing Computer and Internet Applications in Social Services. Binghampton, NY: Haworth.

Stevenson, L (2016) New body to take responsibility for social work standards and regulation. Online: Community Care.|SCSC|SCDDB-2016-0115. Accessed on 27/01/2016

The College of Social Work (2012) The Practice Educator Standards for Social Work (PEPS). Available at: resources/Practice-EducatorProfessional(edref11).pdf. Accessed on 28/07/2013

The Higher Education Academy (2016) Latest Research. Online: Accessed on 27/01/2016.

Woodward, J (2016) Social Media for students in practice, in A. Bellinger and D. Ford (Eds.) Practice Placement in Social Work. Bristol: Policy Press



How to Cite

Plenty, J., Dix, H., & Barley, L. (2017). Practice Education Network for Social Work (PENSW): Evaluation of an online resource. The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 14(3), 81-96.