Navigating relationships in practice learning: voices from practice educators

Echo Yeung , Andrea Newman, Beverley Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This paper explores the nature and quality of relationships between social work students and their practice educators and discusses how practice educators navigate their multifaceted and complex role in the context of practice learning in England. The data was drawn from individual interviews with 13 practice educators and two focus groups with first year MA social work students. The findings indicate that challenges associated with social differences, in engaging students in learning, and in initiating critical dialogue affect the nature and quality of practice learning relationships. Practice educators need to develop skills, knowledge and confidence to manage the complexities and different demands of their role. It is also important for practice educators to invest time to develop and sustain meaningful relationships with students, and to create a safe space for critical dialogue to take place. A trusting relationship is fundamental if students and practice educators are to raise and explore difficult issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-424
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number3
Early online date22 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Practice learning
  • practice educator
  • critical conversations
  • social work
  • relationship building


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