Developing a Common Language in Children's Services through Research‐based Inter‐disciplinary Training

Axford, Nick, Berry, Vashti Louise, Little, Michael and Morpeth, Louise (2006) Developing a Common Language in Children's Services through Research‐based Inter‐disciplinary Training. Social Work Education, 25 (2). pp. 161-176. ISSN 0261-5479

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Two sources of inertia to improving services for children in need are the difficulties of getting evidence into practice and the complications of inter‐agency working. Current training arrangements in social work and disparities between children's services professions as regards training requirements are contributory factors. The Common Language project is a work in progress, adopting a research‐based, inter‐disciplinary approach to working with social workers and other children's services professionals. It comprises core ideas and methods to complement the more specialist knowledge and skills required in each profession. Underpinned by a child development perspective and a scientific development cycle, it rests on a conceptual framework including need, threshold, service and outcome. The approach has three components (each of which includes training): (1) the implementation of practice tools; (2) the planning and development of integrated services; and (3) supporting materials, including practitioner‐orientated modules and a curriculum for PhD students. Distinguishing features include research utilisation, notably a focus on inculcating research‐mindedness as opposed to imparting findings, and also collaborative professional working, in particular via practical connections between different agencies, stakeholders and countries. The project is being evaluated in terms of uptake, change in professional thinking and practice and effects on child well‐being. Next steps for the project relate to broader lessons for social work training emerging from research and development elsewhere.

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