Practice Educator

What is a Practice Educator and what do they do?

When you are in a profession, you often take for granted that you know certain

aspects of what you do or what is important to your profession without consideration

that other professionals or individuals might not understand. We throw around

acronyms and words in all professions and expect that we are understood as we use

them all of the time, so who would not know? We sometimes remind ourselves that

others might not know what we are talking about, but then we are so consumed by

our profession that it is just natural. Until recently! I have had the fantastic

opportunity to complete PEPS1 and PEPS2. I was excited and happily relieved that I

had received a pass grade for PEP2. I told so many people over WhatsApp and

other messaging services. I was quite surprised with all the congratulations I

received and the "Whats a PEPs"

Why have a practice educator?

As a social work student, you are required to complete mandatory placements. In my

day (that makes me sound old), these were two hundred day placements, 100 on

level 5 and 100 on level 6 of your social work degree. Since then, things have

changed slightly in how and when you do a placement. However, the number of days

on placement overall remains the same for the BSc and the MA. However, the HEA

(Higher Education Apprenticeship) is different as you are released from your role at

university one day a week. Like most apprenticeships, you will complete a lot of the

learning on placement and top this up with academic studies leading to an academic

qualification which allows you to practice social work. There are other ways into

social work, for example, the step into social work and the frontline programmes

aimed at people going into working with children. What is important with any social

work training avenue is that you have both practical guidance and academic

guidance whilst in the field. 

Whilst you are on a social work placement, you will be allocated a practice

supervisor, someone who will support and supervise your role and practice, and a

practice educator. A practice educator will help you explore the academic side of

your training and help make links between theory and practice. 

Sometimes these can be one person, and sometimes these are two different people

depending on your placement. Due to social work being a vocational subject,

placement is there to ensure you can experience what is required to complete the

job role when you qualify. Social work as a profession requires an individual to have

a well-rounded knowledge base. We often engage with individuals in crises, so the

more experience we can have with communicating with individuals from various

backgrounds, the better we can support those individuals. A good practice educator

should enable students to apply their academic knowledge to understand practical

situations and help them grow and develop.  

What is involved?  

When I first commenced PEPS1, I had to take responsibility for a student. This

meant I would be responsible for their day-to-day training in their role as a student

with Nellie, and I would have to have responsibility for ensuring that they link to

practice and theory. For PEPS1, I took the role of the practice supervisor and the

practice educator. It is quite a remarkable responsibility. The student requires daily

support initially and weekly formal supervision. You are their go-to person, the

person who provides support, learning and constructive feedback. Anyone who has

completed a social work placement will understand just how significant a practice

educator can be and just how important it is that your practice educator is a good

educator. I am lucky as, within my two placements, I had fantastic practice


They both facilitated reflective discussions, were very patient and would explain

everything in an easy-to-understand way. I took a lot from my own experiences and