Supervising fast track social work students on placement: examining the experiences of trainee practice educators
The last decade has seen the introduction of fast track (FT) social work training programmes as an alternative to 2-year postgraduate courses: Step Up to Social Work began in 2010, joined by Frontline in 2014 and finally Think Ahead, a mental health-focussed social work training programme, in 2016. With the popularity of these courses (Skills for Care analysis of HESA data, 2018), and the uncertainty around the continuation of bursaries, X University validated its own FT social work programme in 2017.
While there have been evaluations of the impact of the aforementioned FT training programmes, there is nothing publicly available examining the experiences of the practice educators who assess these students. Using end-of-placement feedback data from a sample of 14 trainee practice educators, this article will discuss their experience of assessing FT students, including how the students performed on placement and the educators’ views of their own training programme.
Some educators noted a physical and emotional impact on students and a struggle with some to engage in reflective practice. Comments regarding the fast pace of both the FT and practice education programme were also made. Recommendations for the training and support of practice educators supervising FT students will be identified and discussed.
Keywords: fast track, social work education, practice educator, placement