Social Work Dimension of the Primary Teacher's Role." This article is written about the British Education System that is similar to that of the United States. Often teachers have to act as social workers for the students and parents.
STUDY REVIEW OF THE ARTICLE,
THE SOCIAL WORK DIMENSION OF THE PRIMARY TEACHER'S ROLE"
The article review is about the social work dimension of the primary teacher, head teachers, and other staff in Britain. This article is a report on a qualitative research that was done in 15 schools and a national survey. Data concerning social work in the school were collected through documentation, analysis, interviews and observation in 15 schools in the North East of England. "The sample consisted of three infant schools, one junior school and 11 primary schools of which one has less than 100 pupils, three had between 101-200 pupils on roll, three were between 201-300 and eight had over 300 pupils" (Webb and Vulliamy 2002 p. 169). The schools were chosen to try to ensure diversity in terms of size and the age range. However, there was a bias towards those that might need social work demands from the teachers. This might invalidate the study, because the whole point of the article was concerning the need for social work in the school. If they already knew and chose schools needing social work, this had a direct bearing upon the study. The locations of the schools were varied with schools found in a former mining village, seaside resort, and an industrial town. Nine of the schools were located in areas of economic and social deprivation. The sample schools were referred to by alphabet to keep data confidential. A research assistant did interviews in the sample schools.
They were semi-structured, tape recorded and transcribed and varied in length from about 45 minutes to two hours. Interview questions sought to find out whether interviewees considered that they carried out social work and, if so, to ask for descriptions of what this entailed, their experiences, perspectives on factors constraining or facilitating their social work role and the resources that they considered were required for that role to become more effective. (Webb and Vulliamy 2002 p. 170).
During the observation time at the schools, the research assistant documented facts concerning social work and teachers. A process of category generation and saturation determined analysis of the data. A questionnaire was created to compare the sample schools with national schools. This questionnaire contained 18 questions on four basic areas of social work. These were helping parents with personal problems, helping students with emotional or behavior problems, child protection, and working with agencies on other issues.
Research on social work, as teachers have been very limited in the past with only a couple of previous studies. This study shows that often teachers spend a lot of time doing social work, such as listening to parents during a divorce, taking action when a parent or grandparent alleges that a child has been abused, or finding food and shelter when it is needed. There is a need of funding to provide training of social work issues for teachers. The University of York funded the project and the Association for the Study of Primary Education facilitated the questionnaire survey.
It was noted that schools in areas of social deprivation and high employment were more involved with teachers as social workers, but in reality all the schools had teachers who were involved as social workers. The headteacher of Primary School N. In an attractive and affluent resident area stated,
If you look at the area, you see a lot of our parents have very high powered jobs and all that goes with it, they live in beautiful houses, but it is what we don't see that is the problem'. She then recounted three ongoing situations -- a husband's disappearance accompanied by a suicide note, the death of a partner and a husband leaving the family for a woman with whom he had been working - which had caused three distraught mothers to come into school for sympathetic counseling and support for their children" (Webb and Vulliamy 2002 p. 179).
Regardless of the school, teachers often have to fill the role of social workers. Parents of children who are victims of sexual abuse often tell teachers. They need the sympathetic listener who understands their fears and can be empathetic toward their children who may experience post-traumatic stress disorder or other behavioral problems. Often teachers have to listen to these stories over and over. The teachers often may become "hard" hearted because they hear the same stories repeated but with a different child.
The problem in public school assessment is that it does not assess everything that needs to be assessed in the lives of children. "The National Curriculum is structured round various forms of rich knowledge and understanding; but assessing these is precisely what public tests do badly" (White 1999 p.201). Public assessment tests do not allow for personal problems or feelings during an academic assessment test. These do not begin to understand the individual. Only teachers who know their students know the social issues that come with the students daily to school. An assessment test cannot know that the person is mentally hurting inside, but the person is actually very intelligent once the personal issues are dealt with. Only the teacher that works in the capacity as a social worker can take the student past the assessment test to one of accountability. The teacher works with the parent for the best education for the child and this includes social work. "Teachers' primary responsibility is for the child's social and personal education and the more specialist work they do is to be seen under that aegis" (White 1999 p207). Often it is necessary for teachers to keep informal records of how a child is progressing in school that an assessment test cannot do. National Curriculum should be built around the needs of the students. There will be more of a focus based on the personal and social aims of students in the 2000 Curriculum. Even in the 1988 curriculum,
The fundamental aims were to do not only with the acquisition of knowledge and skills, including physical skills, but also with the spiritual, moral and cultural development of pupils. If these are indeed among the most important aims of the National Curriculum, then how is children's progress in these fields to be assesses" (White 1999 207)?
The problem is that often the personal skills and needs of the students are not being measured. Few studies have been done on the teacher as a social worker, because most national programs do not even recognize this. It is like the article that was written by Terry O'Neil, "It Takes A Teen To Know A Teen" (2001), parents are often forced to pay for the actions that their children commit. In this article, parents would have to pay up to $10,000 to pay for any damages a child does. If a child goes to school and destroys the classroom, what would the child learn from the parent paying for the damage? The problem is that often the laws are adding to the problems that children have. Parents cannot spank their children or do other physical actions to control their actions. Often the parents talk to the teacher about the behavioral problems that they are having at home. "Headteachers spent considerable amount of time providing advice and support on behavior management to parents who were experiencing major problems in controlling their children's behavior. When pupils' behavior in school was disruptive and unacceptable, headteachers explained to the parents the school's response to this behavior and sought to work co-operatively with them to effect improvement" (Webb and Vulliamy 2002 p. 171). One of the biggest problems with parents and schools is that the child may be out of control and neither the school nor the parent can get help until the social services take the child from the parent. Only then can the parent and school receive the needed help.
Often teachers feel similar to what this librarian stated, "I am here as an advocate for children and families, for healthy communities, for economic development, for scholars and researchers, for individuals who seek educational and informational resources throughout their lives" (Thus Said 2002 p. 36). Teachers are there to help their students in whatsoever ways that are needed. If that is social work, then they are willing to go the extra mile and do it.
There have been several Education Acts in Britain: the Children Act in 1989, the Education and Reform Act 1988 and the Education Act 1933.
Two cornerstones of British social policy - the responsibility to the state to ensure that all children are educated and that their welfare is safeguarded and promoted - have been subject in recent years to major changes in the legislative framework which underpins them" (Sinclair and Grimshaw 1994 p. 281).