Case Study – Social Work and Organisational Difficulties

Source: Sapey, B. et al. (2004). “Access to Practice: Overcoming the Barriers to Practice Learning for Disabled Social Work Students.” SWAP LTSN.

J’s dyslexia is such that when he submitted a draft practice essay to his practice teacher it was almost impossible for her to ascertain whether he understood the issues he was discussing. Reliance on computer spell-check software had not helped as it had altered the sense of the work. If the practice teacher had marked it at this stage and compensated for his impairment she would have been unlikely to have given him more than a bare pass. J was encouraged to make use of a specialist support worker who knew nothing about social work, but was able to assist him in stating clearly what it was that he was trying to say. When his work was finally submitted, it was awarded a good grade.

The advantage of this approach is that the help J received was specific to his impairment and he was enabled to demonstrate his understanding of the subject. Simply giving him more time or compensating when marking his work would not have allowed him to demonstrate his understanding or have helped him to communicate effectively; it risks leaving the student with the deficit and no means of compensating for it in practice. This level of support needs to be made available in placements to ensure the quality of care provided to service users.

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