Critical reading and the Open University

User involvement in social work education
Published on 8 Jun 2018

This is one of eight stories, showcasing what service user and carer (SUAC) involvement in social work education looks like, what makes it work and what benefits it brings. It has a significant role to play in shaping the next generation of practitioners.

SUAC involvement in social work education has been mandatory for 15 years now, so there is a lot of learning to share with others who can learn from this - transferrable to  educators and practitioners working across public services, and relevant to policy-makers committed to mainstreaming person-centred – or person-led – approaches based on real partnership working between those who use and those who deliver services.


Helping to shape the curriculum

Critical reading is an important aspect of the development of Open University’s online learning materials, with the OU a world leader in distance learning since 1969. Service users and carers are amongst those critical readers, with their feedback informing final versions. This helps to ensure that social work values of 'doing with and not to' are incorporated, and that the stories and voices of service users and carers are reflected in podcasts or activity-led materials.

Listen to Sandy Sieminski (PG Dip in Social Work Production Chair), Jenny Bew (Interim Head of Social Work in Scotland) and Alice Bradley (a service user and carer representative) share their learning and reflections on the importance of this. They also share their future ambitions, as champions of this approach, and some of the challenges in both maintaining and extending this more broadly – which includes recruiting remunerated service users and carers for this task.

If you are a service user and carer and interested in becoming a critical reader for the OU, or becoming involved in other ways, you can find out more by reading their booklet.

For those interested in following up on study options, please go to OpenLearn.