Willis Atherley-Bourne

Social Work BA

My work placement has been challenging, but amazing ... an invaluable opportunity to gain experience and insight.

What attracted you to studying at Kent?

I liked the fact that my lecturers all have experience of practice in a variety of social work settings. I hope to work in Medway once qualified, so having placements within the area appealed to me, too. I was also drawn to Kent’s standing in the league tables and I was encouraged by feedback from previous students.

Which modules have you enjoyed the most, and why?

All the modules have been enjoyable and challenging in a variety of ways. If I were to choose, I would say my favourite module so far has been Social Policy. My seminar lead was enthusiastic and knowledgeable in her subject area, which in turn encouraged me to push myself further. I achieved one of my highest grades in this subject and now realise just how much I enjoy analysing policy documents in their relationship to social change, particularly for children and families.

How would you describe your lecturers?

All the lecturers are extremely approachable and supportive. I feel they offer opportunities for us to develop the skills we need, such as reflection, professionalism and critical thinking.

What about the support you have received for your studies?

As a mature student with previous university experience, I have been impressed with the level of support readily available to students across the board. We have dedicated student support staff, who are familiar with our programme of study, so they appreciate the range of challenges we face on an emotional and intellectual level due to the rigorous training regime.

How would you describe your fellow students?

There is a diverse range of students on my programme, with ages ranging from early 20s to late 50s. The first year was a dynamic process of learning how we bridge the gaps between our cultural, ethnic and gender differences as a group.

You’re on placement at the moment – how is it going?

My work placement has been challenging, but amazing! I have had support from a highly qualified and experienced practice educator with a local authority. It is unusual to have a local authority placement at such an early stage but, due to an arrangement between the University and the local authority, I’ve had an invaluable opportunity to gain experience and insight into social work practice with children and families.

An important aspect of my learning has been about developing professionalism and an applied understanding of the Professional Capability Framework, which is key to social work practice. I have been able to shadow social workers engaged in assessments and be part of debriefing sessions. My on-site supervisor has been consistently supportive and encouraged me to take on challenges to stretch my depth of knowledge and build resilience as I approach my third year of training. 

What are the facilities like on campus?

The library is amazing. I feel like an overgrown child in a sweet shop when I start looking for reading material. The online access is invaluable, as it means I can access resources 22 hours a day. The staff have been extremely helpful over all sorts of issues, everything from finding a stapler to finding obscure international journals. The Venue in the Pilkington Building is great for an early breakfast and is value for money. Parking has been fine for me during my studies too.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I aim to work with children and families. My experience has been in counselling and psychotherapy with children for over 23 years, and my aim has been to develop my knowledge of statutory requirements to bolster my previous experience and qualifications.