Hi, my name is Freya and I am a Social Work student. Here are my top four things to look forward to about studying social work at York.
Many courses are full to bursting point. When studying social work at York, the cohort size is tiny in comparison. While this means there are no huge lecture theatres to hide at the back of, you will make friends quickly. There are also endless opportunities to take part in class discussions.
In first term, my contact hours were pretty high – on average, I was on campus four days a week. This is a great opportunity to familiarise yourself with the university layout. For example, I found out that The Kitchen at Alcuin has the best coffee on campus.
I am rubbish with names, but our cohort only has 21 students. This means that you get to know everyone a lot quicker than many other courses. In your first term, you will meet a handful of lecturers within the department. Some are academic experts in their field and others are still practicing social workers. The diverse range means that you get a holistic view of the subject. Because you spend so much time with them in your first term, you can pick their brains about things that interest you!
Placements are a great opportunity to put into practice everything you have learned from the term before.
I had no idea what aspect of social work I wanted to work in. However, the placements team within the department are brilliant at responding to this. They will ask you to complete a form at the start of your course, listing your interests, worries and general requirements. The team will place you somewhere they think appropriate. My advice would be to go into each placement with an open mind and absorb everything you can like a sponge!
My first placement was with a community mental health team within the NHS. The second placement was in a child protection team within the North Yorkshire county council. These two contrasting placements have given me an insight into the varied role social workers can have when they qualify.
During the placement, you will have regular supervision to make sure you are happy and enjoying your time in the team. These are brilliant as they give you an opportunity to ask lots of questions and work out any worries you have. In second year, there is an option module offered to align with your placement or to learn about something completely different.
My top placement tip is to attend every learning opportunity on offer. It’s also useful to learn how to make a good cup of tea for the team!
Besides the lectures for your modules, you will have skills days throughout the course.
The skills day often includes visiting professionals from different organisations, who deliver a day of training specific to their work. A few which spring to mind are presentations from the Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS), a local drug and alcohol service and a PhD presentation on supporting refugees. Skills days are another opportunity to learn about what it is like to practice as a social worker in different roles, communities and teams.
The best part of the social work course for me is the Service User and Carer Participation and Advisory (SUPA) Group. The group consists of service users who have volunteered their free time to make us better practitioners. Their insight into what it is like to receive social care support is invaluable. I would recommend looking it up and engaging with these sessions as much as you can if you join!
Find out more about studying social work at York from our other student blogs.