Whose students are they anyway?
Keywords:failing students, practice educators, university-practice partnerships, collaboration, practice placement
This paper draws on case study research which explored the support needs of those involved in social work practice learning in an English local authority. Data was collected through questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews with 27 practice educators, students and team managers. Although issues relating to failing students were not intended as the primary focus of the research, this theme dominates the findings from practice educators and team managers. Practice educators cited problematic placements as a key factor in their decision not to continue in the role.
A significant contributory factor in the negative impact of the failing experience is the participants’ dissatisfaction with the attitude and approach of the students’ universities. Particularly striking is the perception that universities present an obstruction to a fail decision resulting in students being passed who possibly should not do so. This paper considers whether the different institutional perceptions of the social work student and the organisations’ role in relation to them could be at the root of these difficulties in collaboration and fuel the ‘failure to fail’ debate.