Thursday, March 22, 2007

Second day of "shadowing"

Second day of shadowing today ... did a bit of an article on all of this, which can be found here ... but thought it worthwhile copying the full text in this entry also (something I do try and avoid usually) ...

"On my mission to learn more about the workings of the Department many contacts had suggested I undertake some full-day 'shadowing' of a couple of posts within the Department, and I've now completed just that ... having spent a day with a Senior Social Worker at the Murrayburn Gate Social Work Centre; and another day with a Principal Teacher at Leith Academy. I've found both days completely invaluable and thought it would be worth saying why.

I tried to make sure that both days were as informally organised as possible and asked that I see, as far as feasible, a pretty ordinary working day in both environments. I think I managed to achieve this, but certainly wouldn't class either day as 'ordinary'.

Clearly, it wouldn't be sensible to spell out all of the detail of either day here, but suffice it to say that I was hugely impressed with the very wide range of duties that both post-holders had to undertake and how they coped with really rapidly changing situations from one hour to the next ... now, my 'ordinary' day is pretty varied (to say the least) but the pressures are certainly no greater than those being faced by the two staff members I've just spent a couple of days with.
Of course, I read endless reports on all of these issues, and I do patiently listen to staff members telling me about their daily pressures when I'm on regular establishment visits ... and I do try very hard to ensure those discussions are reflected in the decisions that are taken. But the actual experience of going through a days work, in both a social work and an education environment, has really evidenced the reality of those pressures in a way that no amount of reading/listening can do.

And, despite the obvious challenges being faced, I have to say that I found both days genuinely uplifting ... it's the best adjective I can think of to describe what I saw: yes - very difficult casework dilemmas, physical time pressures and constraints, some pretty challenging pupil behaviour, heavy paperwork duties ... but also numerous professionals completely dedicated to assisting those most in need (the vulnerable and the young) and giving of their all to make the very best of the time and resources they had to make as big a positive impact as humanly possible.

Difficult work I accept with yet more resources, I know, being required ... but also, definitely uplifting."

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