‘Shadowing’ and its place in preparing students for practice learning
Keywords:shadowing placements, preparations for practice, self-efficacy
Summary: As part of the new social work degree in England all students must undergo a period of assessed preparation for practice learning which includes the opportunity to shadow an experienced social worker. This requirement has been implemented in different ways across social work programmes in England and providers have raised concerns about the assessment of students’ fitness to undertake practice learning. This article explores the background to and potential of ‘shadowing’ as observational and preparatory leaning and surveys some of the differential practice amongst English social work programme providers. Following this, the article describes a small-scale research study in which the confidence (self-efficacy beliefs) of students were monitored before and after undertaking shadowing experiences and qualitative reports concerning the experiences were collected and reviewed. The study recommends the development of a rigorous approach to shadowing, that is assessed, made integral to social work programmes and is adequately resourced.