The role and function of managers leading social work practice students
This article analyses and presents the author's ten years experience in managing students' practical work placements. The aim of the article is to demonstrate the role of social work placement managers and to describe its function. The analysis of the experience of the practice manager shows that leadership for social work practice manifests itself in four fields: administration, therapy, training and academic. The functions of the social work practice manager in the administrative field are as such: the formation of the setting of the practice, which involves the planning of practice time, place and structure; the integration of social work practice into the structure of the placement's organization; the student's activity combined with the activity of the organization's workers and clients; mediation between the university and student, seeking to complete the practical tasks given from the university.
The role of the social work practice manager as a therapist's functions are: consulting, which involves finding a solution to the emotional and psychological problems that arise during the placement process; the supervision of professional relationships within the organization; its workers, volunteers and clients; the supervision of the student's participation in the social therapy groups of clients/workers.
The training function includes: student's participation in the clients/workers occupations and meetings; providing information about specific client groups, organizational culture, management and activities; training about the methods of social work; training in the skills that are not connected with the concrete aims of the social work practice.
The ability of the manager depends on the social worker's competences, whereas the administrative capabilities depend on the skills of the social worker. The quality of the training provided for the social worker is of paramount importance in the process of the social work practice. Summarizing, the quality of the manager will depend on various different aspects that are covered in greater detail in the article.