A model to support the development of courtroom skills
Keywords:social worker, social work students, courtroom skills, model for skills development, observation and shadowing, reflection, evidence, cross-examination, values
Summary: There is widespread interest on the part of social work degree students in developing their courtroom skills within a framework of learning about social work law, but it is often not until they qualify and are ‘thrown in at the deep end’ that anyone gives any serious thought to the need for preparation and skills development in this area. As a result, students and newly-qualified social workers are frequently apprehensive about court work, which means that they do not always do themselves, or the people who use social work services, justice when faced with court involvement. This article offers a model for practice assessors to use with students in agencies where court work is undertaken, and encourages skills development against a foundation of critical analysis and reflection. The term ‘practice assessor’ has been adopted by the General Social Care Council in preference to the previously widely-used term ‘practice teacher’ to describe the person responsible for facilitating learning and supervising and assessing social work students in practice. Within this model, ‘practice assessor’ is interchangeable with ‘practice teacher’, and indeed most of the suggested learning activities primarily involve a facilitative or teaching, rather than an assessment, role.