The journey towards professionalism in social work


  • Marie McNay
  • Jean Clarke
  • Roe Lovelock



assessment, development, practice learning, competence framework, National Occupational Standards, outcomes


Achieving clear evidence of competent professional practice for social work students is a challenge for social work educators. This issue became more critical in the UK with the onset of the DipSW outcome-based competence framework which, we argue, limited the process of learning and development for students and practice assessor assessments. This article argues that the (unintended) consequence of this approach is a less analytic process for developing practice and consequently, for many students, less well developed assessment and reflective skills. Therefore, the article attempts to explain these issues and offers an example of a process at Brunel University that we believe was significant in helping students develop much better analytical and reflective skills than had happened with the DipSW and is happening with the National Occupational Standards currently. We believe this process enables educators to be more confident about their assessment of students’ ability to practice at an appropriate standard and to make that recommendation.


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How to Cite

McNay, M., Clarke, J., & Lovelock, R. (2012). The journey towards professionalism in social work. The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 9(3), 72-91.