Social work education is a contested site in many Western countries, where neoliberal governments tend to privilege individual-focused rather than structural, rights-based welfare perspectives and expect curricula to reflect this preference. Over 2014–2015, well-publicised criticism of social work referred to graduates’ lack of knowledge of trauma informed practice and risk assessment. Our qualitative study employed focus groups with social work students (thirty-five) and educators (twenty-seven) to explore their views about the strengths, gaps and limitations of their New Zealand qualifying programmes, with a particular emphasis on the inclusion of content on child protection, trauma and risk assessment. We report that both students and educators were aware of the critical political spotlight on the social work curriculum and the emphasis on ‘hot topics’ such as trauma. Findings include both critical and pragmatic responses to the critique of social work education, educator resistance to the trauma discourse and identification of child protection as disproportionately influencing talk about curriculum. Whilst political interference in curriculum is not new, the implications of these findings must be considered as social work educators ponder resistance to the narrow interests of one powerful employer.
Beddoe, L., Ballantyne, N., Maidment, J., Hay, K., & Walker, S. (2019). Troubling trauma-informed policy in social work education: Reflections of educators and students in Aotearoa New Zealand. The British Journal of Social Work, 49(6), 1563–1581. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcz052