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Increasing the depth of field: the Voluntary Sector Pathway

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2002
<mark>Journal</mark>Social Work Education
Issue number2
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)233-245
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


There is a danger in discussion about social work that it becomes seen as a monolithic activity, one which is the monopoly of Local Authority Social Services Departments. Voluntary sector social work is, inevitably, a casualty of this view: overlooked within accepted definitions of social work and marginalised within the teaching and placement organisation of the DipSW curriculum. The Voluntary Sector Pathway, an option in the second year of the MA/DipSW course at the University of Nottingham, inverts this situation, promoting the longstanding and unique contribution of the voluntary sector to social work. Voluntary sector placements provide the culmination of a learning experience which places the sector at its heart. This article has its roots in a workshop run at the JSWEC conference at Derby University in the summer of 2001 on the theme of partnership. This provided an opportunity for the authors, joint co-ordinators of the Pathway, to reflect, together with Voluntary Sector Pathway students, on their learning. The workshop was conceptualised, planned and delivered in partnership with three students from the 1999-2001 student cohort - Jane Gorst, Jonathan Lung and Alice MacGregor - with input from a number of other students on the Pathway. It describes the work of the Voluntary Sector Pathway and considers its effectiveness in preparing students for practice in a range of settings. In the light of forthcoming changes to social work education, we consider the lessons to be learned from this unique Pathway.