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Social Work's New ‘Non-traditional’ Students? Learning from the Experiences of Our Younger Students

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This paper begins by locating the (controversial) removal of the ‘minimum age at qualification’ regulation in 2003 within the context of wider changes occurring within social work education and the social work profession. This is followed by a report of a small scale exploratory study designed to gather data regarding the experiences of younger students within one undergraduate qualifying programme. The data are then discussed in relation to literature from within social work and allied disciplines in order to consider themes such as ‘identity’, ‘othering’ and ‘recognition’. It is suggested from data gathered during this project that although the gates to social work education have now been opened more widely to school leaving students, they have in effect become social work's new ‘non-traditional’ students and in some cases, inclusion is experienced as partial rather than complete. A discussion of the implications for further research as well as teaching, learning and group process issues on professional programmes concludes this paper.

The initial phase of the research for this paper was funded by an HEA SWAP ‘small projects’ grant.
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Keywords: Age; Diversity; Identity; Learning Groups; Professional Identity; Social Work Student; Transition

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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