While on placement with the SWEET Project, students are continuously supported by all members of staff. They have regular case management discussions and there are always staff members on site who will help them if they have any concerns. If they are experiencing any personal problems they can always approach their Practice Educator. Alternatively, they can request "professional wellbeing", through which emotional support is offered to students who are having difficulty on placement because of personal issues.
We have a variety of students from a range of universities; we also have international students who have come to us on placement while based in this country. Students find it very beneficial to practise alongside students from different universities. When UK students have worked with international students, all have gained shared insights into social work roles in different countries.
The Project aims to provide equal opportunities for students who are disabled or who may have additional learning needs. We follow the guidelines set out in the Equality Act 2010. We understand and recognise that each student has individual needs which require our support. The Disability Champion can provide additional support for students who may have managed mental health issues: she can arrange for reasonable adjustments to be put in place to support the student during his or her placement.
All students have access to a suite of IT equipment to support their data input skills. Students with additional learning needs such as dyslexia are supported throughout their placement with adjustments which include the use of personal IT equipment.
The SWEET Project has experience of managing students on part-time courses or whose placements are undertaken on a part-time basis. Placement days are agreed at the outset and serious consideration is given to employment demands.
We have supported many students who have taken a leave of absence from their studies and we are used to supporting students who, for various reasons, find themselves out of sync with placement timetables.
All students on placement at The SWEET Project receive a structured induction which includes:
Also included are: training in safe practice including child protection and adult safeguarding; working with hard-to-reach families and service users; direct work with children; the SWEET Project's policy and procedures.
Students will consolidate what they have learnt in induction and will be given access to their cases. They will begin to assess the families’ individual needs via case referral, case recordings, case file and case management. Only when the student has a full understanding of a family is permission given to contact that family.
Consultation has taken place with the families with whom we work to ascertain their views about the fact that our student population is constantly changing. They are happy to to accept that their allocated workers will change from time to time on the understanding that the Case Manager remains the same. This flexibility enables fresh insight to be brought to each case on a regular basis.
We offer students a comprehensive timetable of in-house and external training including the Birmingham Local Safeguarding Board’s training opportunities and Birmingham Children’s Services shadowing opportunities. We can also offer a variety of workshops.
Student supervision is undertaken in many different formats on a regular basis including:
Case management discussions take place every Monday morning between 9.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. and on Wednesday mornings between 10.30 a.m. and 1.30 p.m.. There is also an open door policy which gives students access to advice, support and guidance as and when required.
A member of staff is allocated to each case and will provide the necessary case management. Every case may be shared with two students. If the case is complex or if the family has a large number of children, additional students may be allocated.
When a case is first allocated, the member of staff at SWEET with oversight of the individual or family concerned will discuss the management of the case with the students before their initial visit.
"The work and the service users are very varied, which is typical of the diverse community that the Project is supporting. For example, as students, we would not solely be working with Children in Need, but would get an overview of the whole support process from CAF meetings, Children in Need, Child Protection, Life Story and Court work."
"This placement follows the recommendations of the Munro report by investing time in responding to children’s wishes and feelings by carrying out direct work, which is not always as emphasised in other training settings."
"The Project has a positive approach to our learning. Rather than letting us make mistakes and then reprimanding us for them the following week, this placement makes sure you are thoroughly informed before you go into interventions, supports you at the time and will speak to you straight away if you need to improve. The learning culture here means you are encouraged to organise your time so that you can conduct research and are given the opportunity to develop your skills through practical training such as the Court Skills workshop."
"There are no other placements like it, where you have all the trainers in one place. Here you benefit from a variety of different practice educators, including three senior staff, a newly-qualified worker and a senior support worker, who offer a range of perspectives in case management."
"The support offered to students by staff is priceless. There is a “team feel” about how they facilitate our learning, as every member of staff invests in the students. The responsibility does not rest on one single practice educator. There is an open door policy too. Their office doors are always open and the staff make themselves available to prioritise your learning and emotional needs."
"The staff model an extremely supportive environment; as a result, the students mimic a healthy team culture too. Very rarely will you ever get peer support of the quality available at this Project. They provide a safe space in which we can reflect and digest what we are learning, and this helps to establish in us the foundations needed by critically reflective professionals."
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the SWEET Project. I carried a varied diverse caseload and found this useful for my professional development. I was able to improve my competence and gain the support I needed through supervision to deliver a thorough service. While I was at SWEET, I grew as a SSW I found it very useful, especially where learning about child-centred theory was concerned. I learned how to interact with children through direct work. This is something I can carry on to my next placement. Another vital part was meeting other students from all over the country. It was nice to get to know others, to share good practice and to learn from each other."