My Placement: Vanessa Honeyghan, final year student, social work degree, University of Birmingham

I was placed in a primary school in a town near Birmingham between September 2008 and February 2009. I was the first student social worker that they'd had.

My first day there was wonderful. The teaching staff took me around the classrooms and introduced me to the children, who went home and told their parents that a social worker was at school. Some parents got a bit worried. So I arranged a coffee morning for parents and did a presentation about why I was there.

My supervisor was very supportive. She said I was the type of person who was self-motivated. I used to work as a personal assistant, so I'm good at networking and organising.

In at the deep end

I did the playground round in the morning, which helped me get to know parents dropping off their children. Some of them shared issues with me about their children, which they asked for my help with.

My placement helped me apply what I'd learned in social work theory about anti-oppressive practice. I saw a child playing while waiting for lunch, but being pulled aside for it. I was unhappy with the oppressive way the staff member dealt with the child and I reported it to my supervisor. The issue was dealt with immediately and training was given to staff as a result. It was the first time I thought of myself as having a duty of care to a child.

Although I was thrown in at the deep end, I think I made a difference. If an opportunity came up in a primary school, I think I could do it.


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