Country’s chief social workers back UCLan virtual book club

10 February 2015

Lyndsey Boardman

The two most senior social workers in the country have visited the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to learn more about a virtual book club that has grown into a national teaching project over the last two years.

Support for innovative national teaching project

Isabelle Trowler, the Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, and the Chief Social Worker for Adults Lyn Romeo joined over 20 UCLan social work students at the University’s Preston campus alongside students from seven other universities who joined in via Twitter to discuss the group’s latest book, The Children Act by Ian McEwan.

The UCLan Social Work Book Group began two years ago with a few enthusiastic social work students and their tutor Amanda Taylor who wanted to create an open and interactive learning environment outside of the traditional classroom setting.  Since its humble beginnings the club has grown and attracted high profile academics, practitioners and authors to discuss real life social care issues with students through fiction.

Isabelle, who took up her post as Chief Social Worker for Children and Families in September 2013, commented: “The social work book club brings together students and practitioners to make links between theory and practice in an engaging format. It provides an opportunity to debate the challenges of the important field in which we work and to encourage collaborative learning and development. 
“I’m delighted to have been invited to participate in this event and have enjoyed the lively discussion at UCLan and on Twitter.”

“I’m delighted to have been invited to participate in this event and have enjoyed the lively discussion at UCLan and on Twitter.”

Lyn echoed Isabelle’s sentiments.  She said: “I first came across the social work book club last summer and was impressed and excited about the way it is connecting  students and social workers across the country  to explore and reflect on the key issues common to us all. What a great way to learn and reflect and the growth of the book club across the country speaks for itself.”

The UCLan @SWBookClub has in the past received funding from the Higher Education Academy and now includes students from Lancaster University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Cardiff University, the University of Northampton, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Bradford who all join in discussions via the hashtag #swbk on Twitter and by watching the classroom talk live online.

UCLan senior social work lecturer Amanda Taylor who developed the book club said: “We are delighted to welcome the two most senior social work figures in the country to our book group.  Isabelle and Lyn’s participation and support shows just how far we’ve come in such a short space of time.  

“I never imagined that what was originally a teaching experiment would grow to the proportions it has and for me this is related to being employed by an extremely progressive university that has innovation at the core of its business; one that supports its staff to be creative.  Without this and the encouragement from the Dean, Executive Dean of the School of Social Work and the many Professors around the UK who have given their time this work would not have been possible.

“The whole ethos of our club is to bring social work students from around the country together with academics and practitioners to discuss modern social work issues in an informal setting that everyone can learn from.”