Developing Together Social Work  Teaching Partnership

Blog Post: Service User Involvement in the Teaching Partnership


By Kerryn Holborn, part of Kingston University’s Service User and Carer (SUC) Group


Since the inception of our Kingston University Service User and Carer (SUC) Group in 2003 we have grown not only in membership, diversity and partnership strength, but have continued to enhance student learning bringing our ‘lived experiences’ to the design and delivery of the Social Work Programmes. We move from strength to strength and the Teaching Partnership’s (TP) vision to ‘leverage the strengths of our partners to create the UK’s leading pre and post qualifying social work education community’ has incorporated our SUC group as part of this vision.

Outlining Service User & Carer Involvement

1) Recruitment

Our initial involvement role with the TP was on the interview panel for the Teaching Consultant posts (practitioners entering the classroom to teach specialist elements of the curriculum to students
on the Social Work Programmes). As part of the interview process we observed a presentation along with a TP partner agency representative and an academic member of staff. Our service user perspective was a contributing factor in the final decision of the selection process celebrating partnership approach and reflecting good practice.

2) Student Admissions

SUC participation has been increased in the selection of students. As part of the admissions process we are working alongside Teaching Consultants, academic staff and other TP representatives in the Multi- Mini Interviews to ensure that we recruit only those with attributes, competencies and passion needed to thrive in the profession. Whilst service users and carers have previously taken
part in admissions, they now play a much more determining role. We have been working robustly with partners and academic staff in designing areas in the admissions process including Multi-Mini
Interview questions and developing scenarios for the group exercise, also part of the admissions day.

3) Curriculum development

Service users have also been involved in co-designing and co-delivering the academic programmes to ensure teaching is grounded in practice. Recently, we worked with a module leader to redesign
their module along with some of the Teaching Consultants. We are currently exploring how students can access more learning about service user experience of social work through the use of an audio
and video library.

In collaboration with academic staff and partners from TP, the voice of the service user has been incorporated into the TP meetings throughout the year. Our input has been valued and has, in addition, added ‘expert by experience’ knowledge enabling social workers to be more informed about and sensitive to the needs and views of service users and carers. Feedback from the Teaching Partnership and also from working alongside the Teaching Consultants has been positive in response and has added depth to the partnership experience to enhance student learning.