Symposium

October 12, 2021 | 16:30 – 18:00 (CET Time)

Language: English

Topic: “Re-imagining social work education in a Global pandemic: The social work student connect experience”

Contributor: Siobhan Maclean

Crisis intervention is well known and widely used within social work but perhaps not often applied to our own work as social work educators. Caplan (1965) identified three stages of crisis – impact, recoil and adaptation. In this symposium Siobhan Maclean will open with a personal narrative exploring how these stages impacted on her as a social work educator. In moving to adaptation, Siobhan reached out to students via social media and was ultimately able to co-produce a project with a group of students which became ‘social work student connect’ supporting social work students where their learning, particularly practice experiences, were suspended. This project has developed and evolved with the following achievements:

    • Weekly webinars attract up to 1,000 people (45 delivered as of 20/5/21)
    • More than 80,000 watch backs of the sessions on YouTube (as at 20/5/21)
    • 7,348 followers across three social media platforms
    • Team members developing social work skills training sessions to deliver in Universities
    • Design and delivery of peer discussion workshops to support newly qualified workers in the transition to their role during Covid
    • Student members asked to become involved in a range of projects, including the IFSW Young Social Workers Project

The interactive symposium will be facilitated by Siobhan and members of the social work student connect team, and will include:

    • Reflections on our experiences as social work educators and students working together in a global pandemic
    • The barriers and enablers we encountered
    • What worked and what didn’t
    • How and why we seek to change the social work curriculum
    • Feedback from our webinar audience
    • How we developed true co-production with people who use social work services
    • What Siobhan learned that she was able to take into her practice as an educator
    • What students learned that changed their approach to their own learning
    • Recommendations for social work educators

The team have developed a handbook which explains how to set up a similar group and this will be made available to everyone who attends the symposium.


Siobhan has been a social worker in England for 31 years and became a practice educator in 1995. Siobhan has worked independently for a number of years. As an independent her work is varied but includes training, devising practice learning resources and consultancy work. Siobhan still very much enjoys working as a practice educator and currently supervises a number of student placements each year. Siobhan has written widely, mostly around social work theory and critical reflection. She is keen to make the knowledge base accessible to busy practitioners. Siobhan is very committed to high-quality creative learning about social work practice, she is a Visiting Professor at the University of Chester. Siobhan is also an Editorial Board member of the International Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning. Siobhan is currently the Co-Director of the IFSW Europe Young Social Workers project which is exploring the experiences of social workers making the transition into the profession. She has significantly adapted her work during the pandemic and has enjoyed supporting other social work educators to re-imagine their work.