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Teaching and learning communication with children and young people: developing the qualifying social work curriculum in a changing policy context

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 20:26 authored by Barry Luckock, Michelle LefevreMichelle Lefevre, Karen Tanner
Twenty years after survey evidence showed that UK social work students could complete their training without having learnt about or worked with children, new research suggests little has changed. There is still no guarantee that any student on qualification will have been taught about or assessed in communication skills with children and young people. This is despite the claim that the pre-registration award provides teaching and assessment in core generic skills as a foundation for the development of specialist practice roles in agencies. In fact, as this paper shows, a common understanding of what counts as effective communication with children has yet to be consolidated in social work practice and research. This has impeded the process of curriculum development. Divergent expectations about what counts as social work communication with children in a changing policy context may be exacerbating long-standing uncertainties about how genericism and specialism should be linked in professional education and training. In exploring these issues, this paper seeks to clear the way for the renewed effort that is now required if this aspect of curriculum development is to be effective.


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  • Published


Child and Family Social Work




Blackwell Publishing Ltd





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Department affiliated with

  • Social Work and Social Care Publications


This paper provides an original analytical perspective on findings from the Knowledge Review (Luckock et al., 2006), developing an argument for a new configuration of generic and specialist skills teaching in social work education. By exposing divergent perspectives on 'communication' and 'skill' and uncertainty about the nature of specialism, the paper contributes in a frank and pertinent way to current debates about re-modelling the social work curriculum. It forms one of a series of conference and published papers (see Luckock et al., 2007) in which the core findings of the original Knowledge Review are being effectively developed and disseminated.

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