An exploration of the motivations of service users and carers involved in student social work education and the challenges that such involvement brings

Valerie Gant


Since the inception in 2003 of the degree-based route for social work qualification, the General Social Care Council (GSCC) requires people who use social work services and carers to become involved in all aspects of a learners experience on qualifying social work programmes. This article reports on a qualitative study designed to explore the motivations and challenges such involvement brings. The aim was to incorporate the voices of those involved and add to the discourse on user and carer involvement in higher education. A series of focus groups occurred to investigate differing perspectives. Views from all parties regarding the learner experience were explored. Findings suggest that students had much to gain in terms of confidence and skills by involvement by users and carers from theoretical and practical perspectives. Service users and carers reported they enjoyed the experience and for some this also lead to an increase in confidence and abilities. Academic staff reported how the involvement of service users and carers brought value and ‘reality’ to classroom based learning. In conclusion, moving beyond the boundaries of ‘traditional’ classroom based learning, towards the myriad of possibilities user and carer involvement in the curriculum brings, enhances the experience of learners, academics, users and carers alike.


Service user and carer involvement; higher education; social work

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