What is involvement in social work education?

What is involvement in social work education?

Involvement in social work education means participating in one or more ways in the education and training of both pre and post qualified social work students. Student evaluations continue to demonstrate the valuable contribution that people with experience of health and social care services make to the programmes at Northumbria University. Feedback from the student cohort is that hearing about individual experiences has a profound impact on them and influences subsequent approaches to practice. Feedback has included comments such as:

“I found it really thought provoking. It was really interesting to hear a service user’s perspective. It has also given me a greater understanding for my own practice and for how I will communicate and interact with service users in the future”.

There are numerous different ways to get involved. If you have experience of health and social care services and would like to work with us, you can find out more below and by exploring this website.


Below is some information about the different things you can get involved with at Northumbria University.

Teaching and presentations

This can encompass a range of teaching, from workshops and seminars to delivering lectures.  The format of your engagement will depend on what you feel comfortable with and can be negotiated with university staff. The following list gives an indication of some of the key factors associated with this role:

  • Always be polite and friendly.
  • Always be punctual.
  • Have knowledge of Social Work and some lived experience.
  • Be prepared to answer questions around your lived experience although you always have the right to say that you do not feel comfortable answering a question.
  • Be prepared to express empathy.
  • Be well prepared and have a good knowledge on the subject being delivered
  • Always be punctual.
  • Have good listening skills
  • You should always be non-judgemental and be empathetic.
  • Sometimes you may need to be prepared to answer questions on your own lived experience depending on the subject of the lecture.
  • Staff at Northumbria also offer their full support prior to delivering, during and after a lecture.
  • Training days are offered at the university to provide further advice and guidance on this role.
  • It is also possible to sit in on another person delivering a lecture to gain a greater understanding of the whole process.




Students are assessed in a variety of means on the social work programme. There is scope to become involved in some elements of this process, however, what this will entail will vary according to the module. If you are asked/ volunteer to help with assessing students a member of staff will work with you to explain exactly what is involved and will support you throughout the process.

Admissions days: Interviewing applicants

Applicants to the social work programmes are interviewed, prior to any offers being made. These interviews are conducted by a member of faculty alongside either a practitioner, or an Educator by Experience. Northumbria University have training days on the interview process as to what is expected and pointers to look out for whilst conducting an interview. There is an expectation that you will attend one of these sessions before you undertake your first interview (you will be offered payment for your time). The following list gives an indication of some of the key factors associated with this role:

  • If you are unable to attend the interviews always let the University know in plenty of time as they will have to arrange for another person to take your place.
  • You should be non-judgemental.
  • You will need to have good listening skills.
  • You will need also to be empathetic.
  • Persons involved in interviewing will be told that confidentiality is paramount.
  • Staff also offer full support to people taking part in the interview process i.e. the staff member will ask which questions you would like to ask etc.
  • You will always interview with another member of staff and will never be asked to conduct an interview alone.
  • People interested in being part of the interview process should have an understanding of the role of social workers
  • You should always be polite, friendly and able to hold a conversation.
  • If you are unsure as to any part of the interview process please ask as a candidate’s future is dependent on the outcome.
  • Duration: Approx four hours with breaks built into this.




There is a range of research being undertaken within the Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing.  Involvement in research can vary according to the role you may wish to undertake. Some of the core skills associated with this role are given below.

  • Good listener and sensitive to participants. The ability to hear someone else’s story, and put other people first before your own story.
  • Valuing the other person and their experience. Not promoting your own agenda
  • Being empathetic
  • Reflective learning. We can continually draw from, and learn from each other
  • Reflexiveness and open mindedness. A fluidity in approaches and understandings is required along with an awareness of discrimination.
  • Trust, honesty and commitment, respect for confidentiality
  • Treating people with dignity and respect
  • A desire to improving things for the greater good and identifying with this.  Taking back power and influencing things
  • Experts by experience: lived experience as a service user, carer or, as is often the case, both.
Admissions days: Presentations to new applicants

Another element of the application process is a written test which potential students undertake. As part of this day there is also a presentation about the course. One part of the presentation is undertaken by an Educator by Experience who gives an overview of their views about social work, and answers questions from the prospective students. The following list gives an indication of some of the key factors associated with this role.

  • Ability to reflect, if you choose, on your own experiences and your views about these
  • Be confident to take questions from the students about your own life experience, although you always have the right to not answer a question if you do not feel comfortable.
  • Operate within a respectful environment
  • Always be on time for presentations as there are a lot of people depending on your attendance.
  • If unable to attend a presentation always let the University know in plenty of time so they can arrange for another person to attend.
  • It is a good idea to arrive early when delivering a presentation as it will give you plenty of time to prepare yourself.
  • Have some knowledge of the role that social workers may have played in your experience, or what social work means to you.
  • It is also possible to ask if you may attend the University to sit in whilst another person is delivering a presentation to build your own confidence and to gain some knowledge as to what is expected.
  • Northumbria University also have training days available on presentation skills.

Format of the day: This usually takes place in the morning. You will usually be asked to speak for about fifteen minutes. This can either involve you telling your own story, if you feel comfortable to do so, or can be a more general discussion of what elements of social work practice you feel are important. You will be provided with more advice and guidance about this if you are interested in taking part. Following this, there will be a question and answer session.

Information for people with a learning disability

THIS DOCUMENT provides further information for people with a learning disability about how you can work with social work students. It also provides information about how the university support people to work with social work students.


Involvement by people with lived experience in social education helps students to: