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Two day training programme: Recording in Social Work

Trainers' Notes

Here are some suggestions for running a two-day course for practitioners, to be organised after they have completed the exercises in Write Enough.

The two-day programme is designed for people who write records in files for children and families. Participants will include practitioners in fieldwork, residential and day care settings as well as specialist family aides.

We have drafted a letter (click here) which you can use or amend".

Whatever setting participants work in, it is important that reinforce the way in which the Assessment Framework is central to all assessments of children and their families. You may find it useful to emphasise, for example, that whilst a foster carer is not the child's parent, nevertheless a full assessment of the Parenting Capacity domain is as important as it is to any other child care practitioner. This is because the parenting capacity domain relates to the range of people acting in a parenting role and it is as important to identify what strengths and any difficulties foster parents experience as it is for parents.

Similarly, the implementation of the Integrated Children's System will prevent both the unnecessary duplication of forms and procedures as well as rationalise and streamline the various parts of the child care system. You will need to update staff regularly about the progress of these developments (for updates use the Department of Health website at http://www.doh.gov.uk).


You may want to put specific times for each session into the programme.

Remind participants that Aspects of Difference will feature throughout the programme rather than be treated separately, unless it is appropriate for a particular staff group attending to address specific recording policies or practices e.g. 'handing confidentiality when working with asylum seekers'.

The success of this two-day programme depends heavily on participants bringing examples of their recording with them; you may wish to devise some specific and targeted ways of reinforcing this requirement within your organisation.

You might wish to remind participants that much of the material they have produced will be useful to them in NVQ/PQ/AA portfolios and/or the Post Qualifying Child Care Award.

Day one

Before coffee

Introduction and organisation for the two days (30 mins)

This session is for you to organise as you see fit. Inevitably, there will be local information about, for example, departmental policies, results of inspections that you may wish to draw to participant's attention. Similarly you should cover the usual messages about safety and other housekeeping matters.

Large group discussion about participants' experience of the web-based training (30mins)

The purpose of this session is to gather together some general points emerging from participants' experiences when they did the Write Enough exercises. This session also acts as a reasonably good 'icebreaker'. If you want to structure the session you might pose some or all of the following questions:

1. How did the exercises help you with your recording?
2. Did you have any significant disagreements with the examples given by the authors?
3. Were there any gaps in the materials? (What were they?)

After coffee

Discussion in pairs on participants' examples of Case Summaries (30 mins)

Ask participants to work in pairs (or threes if the arithmetic doesn't work!). Get participants to swap examples with each other and then read them quickly. Afterwards ask them to give each other constructive but critical feedback on two questions:

1. How did it read as a colleague professional?
2. How did it read as a family member?

Pay particular attention to participants who think they must alter a record merely because a family member doesn't agree with what the worker has written (assuming it is not factually inaccurate, or that the worker accepts the family member's point anyway).

Discussion in large group of main emerging points (15 mins)

Here you are using the normal methods of gathering feedback in the large group. Only summary points are necessary, however; not a full repeat of what was discussed in the 'private' arena when participants were working in 2s/3s. Remember that some of these discussions may have included criticisms which the individual will not want discussed in the large group. You are after general points, not specific ones related to individuals.

Completion of Post-box and Learning Points (15 mins)

After the discussion in the large group we suggest you ask participants to do two things:

1. Use 'Stickies' to note any points that they want to register to 'the organisation' - for example, 'We should review our policy about keeping notes of 'hunches'? or 'We need to organise training on evidence-based practice'. Ask them to place the 'Stickies' on a sheet of flipchart paper (which you could have pinned to wall). Tell participants that the list will be summarised after the course and then sent to managers.

2. Encourage participants to make a note of any personal learning points that they want to make. Tell them that these notes will be used during the last session on Day Two.

After lunch

Discussion in pairs on participants' examples of Core Assessments and Analysis (30 mins)
Large group discussion on the nature of 'analysis' and how to improve practice (30 mins)

You will need to stress the difference between gathering information and analysing it. Provided participants have completed all the exercises before attending the programme - in particular Exercise Seven in the Recording Exercises - they should be aware of this difference. Try to get participants to read out, or write on flipcharts, examples of recording which demonstrate good analytic skills.

After tea

Discussion in pairs on participants' examples of Contact and Detailed Records (30 mins)
Plenary session for feedback (15 mins)
Completion of Post-box and Learning Points (15 mins)

Use the same procedures as above


Day two

Before coffee

Recap and resume from Day One (30 mins)

This session is designed to get participants back together and therefore you can use the time flexibly.

Large group discussion on participants' examples of Involving Children and Parents (30mins).

Ask participants to discuss ways they have tried to involve children and parents, both in the work itself and how it is recorded. We recommend that you separate this discussion between children and parents. You might ask participants to consider the following questions:

1. Did you remember to record the 'wishes and feelings' of the child (unless s/he was too young)? (If not, then why? - challenge reasons which involve not having seen the child)
2. Have you come up with any innovative ways of involving children and parents?
3. What challenges did you find involving a child or a parent?
4. Have you come up against any situations when a child or a parent has objected to something you have written? How did you deal with this?

After coffee

Small groups to organise Post Box into messages about:

  • Implications for the organisation (e.g. policy, procedures, support etc.) (30 mins)
  • Implications for supervision (30 mins)

You can tackle this basically in the same way as you did with the similar exercise yesterday. You will to need to separate the comments into one of the two groupings above. You will need to devise a way of gathering their comments so that you can send them to managers.

After lunch

Discussion in pairs to organise Learning Points into Personal Action Plans (30 mins)

The aim in this session is to give participants a chance to structure their notes made at various points so far under the heading Learning Points. One way is to ask them to come up with 4-5 main action statements such as 'I need to spend more time acquainting myself with the main principles of the Data Protection Act 1998' or 'I shall do a summary for each of my active cases by the end of three months'. Try and encourage them to write these statements in such a way that they can later verify whether they have completed them.

Then suggest that they write their name and work address on an envelope, which you will collect in and send to them after an agreed period of time (don't forget the stamp!)

Large group discussion about general points emerging from these plans (30 mins)

What you are after is a general set of points, partly to begin rounding off the programme .

After tea

Final thoughts and comments (30 mins)

Again this session is primarily aimed at winding things down. Try and help people to leave on an optimist note. One way of doing this is to ask participants to state in the group one positive action point they have taken from the two days; another is to get them to identify their most significant positive learning experience gained over the two days.

Obtain Reflections on the two days and conclusions (30 mins)

Finish the programme by asking participants to give feedback and cover any concluding points. Remind participants what you have agreed to do: send the lists of points to appropriate managers and, later on, post participants' self-addressed envelopes.


By Steve Walker, David Shemmings and Hedy Cleaver
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