The Social Work Toolkit


Below you will find three sample learning resources to give you a taste of the print, audio and video content available on The Social Work Toolkit. Every resource on the site is supported by learning objectives and reflective questions, plus some suggestions for related resources.

There are nearly 200 resources such as this on the site, organised into five themes which are central to Social Work training:

  • Communication Skills
  • Professionalism in Practice
  • Ethics, Values and Diversity
  • Assessment and Intervention
  • Lifecourse Perspectives

The resources shown below all come from the "Professionalism in Practice" theme.

  • Avoiding Burnout

    A quick guide to help students understand the pressures of social work and how best to manage them in order to avoid burning out by Rona Woodward

  • How do you manage your time on placement?

    Social work students share insights in a video interview about balancing competing demands on their time

  • "... I should try and stretch myself beyond my comfort zone..."

    Listen to one student's perspective on the importance of practice learning opportunities in this audio case study


    After considering this resource, you should understand the pressures of social work and how best to manage them and yourself in order to avoid burning out.


    Social work, like other caring professions, can be an incredibly stressful environment, as you are working with individuals who are in difficult circumstances. You can run the risk of exhaustion or emotional fatigue; in other words, of burning out. But this is not just an individual phenomenon, but also an organisational one, or even, as Maslach et al. suggest, a wider ''social'' one. But it is not inevitable. Institutional support and good practice can help allow social workers to fulfil their professional obligations effectively without pushing themselves beyond emotional and physical limits.

    This quick guide suggests a number of individual and collective actions that can be taken to prevent yourself from burning out.

    1. What rewards do I gain from the work that I do?
    2. What challenges do I face in my work?
    3. What support do I need from (a) my colleagues, (b) my line manager (or practice teacher) and (c) my employing agency to help me work well and safely?
    4. What kind of social worker do I want to be and how far am I prepared to go, individually and collectively, to achieve my professional goals?

    Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W.B. and Leiter, M. P. (2001) 'Job burnout', Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397-422.


    After considering this resource, you should understand different approaches of managing time on placement.

    When you are on placement, you are essentially working in a full-time job, alongside managing your course commitments and your private life. It is vital for you to manage your time effectively therefore, to achieve a balance across these different elements.

    In the following video, students share how they approach time management on placement, and suggest ideas you may wish to adopt when you are on placement yourself.

    Click the play button to watch the video
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    1. What systems do you have in place at the moment to manage your time on your course or on placement? Are they effective? Can you identify any areas that need improving?
    2. How can supervision help with your time management? Discuss this with your practice educator at your next meeting.
    3. Scott mentions the gym is important to him outside of work. What activities are important to you outside of your course? How can you manage these alongside the demands of your placement?


    After considering this resource, you should understand the importance of taking opportunities presented to you to develop your practice learning.

    Placement will present you with the golden opportunity for making maximum use of the learning opportunities you will come across (Thompson and Thompson, 2008, p.37) .

    You should be prepared to make the most of these chances to develop your practice including shadowing other workers and managing your own case load (Thompson and Thompson, 2008, p.37). In accepting these challenges, you may well make mistakes, but only by adopting a proactive approach will you be able to put to the test what you have learnt elsewhere and improve your skills as a practitioner.

    In the following case study, Mags talks about a placement at an advocacy project she has recently completed, and the lessons she learned about taking advantages of the learning opportunities she was presented with.

    Click here to listen to the case study

    1. Have you had a similar experience to Mags and shied away from an opportunity? Why were you reluctant? If you were presented with the same opportunity again, what might you consider to make you think differently?
    2. How could Mags have prepared for her placement at the agency so she was better equipped for the learning opportunities she would face?
    3. If you were Shamila, what might you suggest Mags does to increase her confidence in practice learning situations?
    4. What are your own priorities for learning when it comes to practice learning opportunities?

    N Thompson and S Thompson (2008) The Social Work Companion. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    The Social Work Toolkit is a unique learning resource which shares both genuine student experience and wide ranging expert opinion. It aims to broaden knowledge, support exploration, encourage reflection and help you develop your students into becoming the very best Social Workers. Request a full trial now.
Ready for more?
The Social Work Toolkit is designed to engage students, help them to learn actively and feel encouraged, supported and inspired, both on their course and in practice. The sample resources on this page are examples of just three of the different types of content that we offer. The full site includes:
Expert opinionsExpert opinions
Insights from experts to deepen thinking and stimulate debate
Case studiesCase studies
Scenarios to explore a range of perspectives
Preparation for practicePreparation for practice
Activities and videos that offer tips and practical guidance for placements
Quick guidesQuick guides
Tools, frameworks and summaries
Book chaptersBook chapters
Selected chapters from our social work textbooks for more in-depth analysis

You will find resources in a range of media, including:

Quizzes and “click and reveal” activitiesQuizzes and “click and reveal” activities
PDF downloadsPDF downloads
Book chaptersBook chapters
All the resources on The Social Work Toolkit are benchmarked to The College of Social Work’s Professional Capabilities Framework and the Health and Care Professions Council’s Standards of Proficiency for England. They are also benchmarked to the National Occupational Standards developed by the General Social Care Council. Where relevant, links to law and policy are also provided for specific resources.

There is also a personalised 'My Toolkit' area on the site, where students can store reflections in an online journal, bookmark useful resources and save searches.