Practice learning

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Key role 6


Demonstrate professional competence in social work practice
Practice Foci A18 Research, analyse, evaluate and use current knowledge of best social work practice
Practice Foci A19 Work within agreed standards of social work practice and ensure own professional development
Practice Foci A20 Manage complex ethical issues, dilemmas and conflicts
Practice Foci A21 Contribute to the promotion of best social work practice

Positive Indicators of Progression To Competence

Negative Indicators of Progression to Competence

  • Demonstrates the ability to review and update own knowledge with regards to legislation, policy and procedures including recommendations from inquiries

  • Engages in on-going professional development with regards to evidence based practice, underpinning knowledge base and appropriate models and methods of intervention

  • Seeks out and uses the expertise of colleagues and other professionals

  • Meet relevant standards of practice and works in a lawful, safe and effective way

  • Upholds professional social work practice values and works within NISCC Code of Practice

  • Maintains appropriate professional and personal boundaries

  • Can exercise and justify professional judgements

  • Can use supervision and support to take action to meet continuing professional development needs

  • Can bear to be unpopular – e.g. When this is an unavoidable consequence when acting with professional integrity

  • Critically reflects on own practice and performance

  • Is aware of his/her own beliefs and prejudices and is willing and able to consider how these might impact on his/her practice

  • Identifies ethical issues, dilemmas and conflicts, devises effective strategies to deal with them and is able to critically reflect on and learn from the outcomes

  • Recognises various levels of oppression and discrimination and can challenge as appropriate

  • Uses supervision together with other organisational and professional systems, to inform courses of action including where practice falls below required standards

  • Understands best practice and demonstrates commitment to working towards achieving this

  • Works with colleagues, other professionals and service users to contribute to team and service development

  • Can offer a critical analysis of the agency’s functioning and effectiveness to contribute to policy review and development

  • Is unable to utilise best practice and messages from inquiries within own practice. Is unwilling or unable to update own knowledge base with regards to legislation, policy and procedures

  • Shows limited understanding of the importance of evidence based practice and is not engaging in on-going professional development

  • Does not identify, develop and apply appropriate methods / models of intervention to own social work practice. Does not undertake reading to update and develop own knowledge base

  • Does not utilise the expertise of staff within the team to inform / develop own practice

  • Work is consistently below standard

  • Work does not follow agency policy, legislation and guidance and is unsafe

  • Fails to see the need for or work as an accountable member of the organisation

  • Has limited knowledge and understanding of the importance of the NISCC Code of Practice and has demonstrated inappropriate value judgements

  • Confuses the personal and the professional and is unable to maintain appropriate professional boundaries

  • Is unable to make sound appropriate professional judgements based on evidence and underpinned by theory

  • Views supervision as day to day case work management and is unwilling to discuss or engage in the process of professional development

  • Is unable to undertake the professional role effectively when dealing with conflict or difficult statutory tasks which may be unpopular with other professionals or service users

  • Cannot use statutory powers where this is needed or fails to take account of service users’ rights within this

  • Is unable to critically reflect on own practice and performance.

  • Demonstrates an unwillingness or inability to listen to and learn from developmental feedback

  • Has poor insight or understanding into own beliefs and prejudices and is unwilling to discuss personal value base and its potential impact on social work practice

  • Is unable or unwilling to challenge discriminatory or oppressive practices where this is a realistic and appropriate possibility given student status

  • Cannot tune into ethical issues or dilemmas within own social work practice or is unable to deal with ethical dilemmas effectively and appropriately

  • Does not use supervision, other organisational and professional systems to address when practice falls below the required standard

  • Is unwilling or unable to acknowledge that work is below standard and does not take responsibility for own practice failings

  • Shows limited understanding of best practice and does not aspire to achieving / enhancing best practice within own practice and within the agency context

  • Does not engage in opportunities for team and service developments. Is unwilling or unable to engage with the team to enhance service delivery

  • Has limited understanding of the agency role and function and is unable to critically reflect on the effectiveness of policy review and development

Appendix 9: Direct Observation of Practice

N.B It is desirable that all direct observations are live but a minimum of two MUST be.







STUDENT: ____________________________________
PRACTICE TEACHER: ____________________________________

  1. SETTING AND CONTEXT (Practice setting, stage of practice learning opportunity and nature of practice observation/service-user circumstances).


    1. Practice Teacher

(B) Student

(C) Service User(s)


Is the Student identifying and addressing issues presented by the Service User/Family/Carer(s)/group? Is the Student responding to the dynamics occurring within the interaction?

  1. SKILLS – demonstrated that are of a competent standard and/or that need to be developed. * (See Question 8 also)

  1. KNOWLEDGE BASE – use of knowledge and theory informing practice and/or aspects that need to be developed? (Legislation; policy and procedures; role and responsibilities; Service User issues; social work methods and process).

  1. ETHICAL PRACTICE – demonstration of the value base in practice, including acknowledgement of NISCC Code of Practice and anti-oppressive perspectives.

  1. FEEDBACK FROM SERVICE USER/or relevant others present



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