The Essay

This takes the form of both a critical commentary on your performance in the role of social work student in the recorded interview and an initial assessment of the person’s circumstances based on information gathered during the interview.

By casting a critical and informed eye over your practice in the interview, you should be able to demonstrate your understanding of social work process, reflection and critical analysis, assessment, early consideration of possible intervention and how to make links between theory and practice. 

The following headings and guidelines reflect the assessment criteria for the written assignment and should be followed to ensure that you cover all aspects of the social work process.


This should set the scene in terms of the scenario concerned as well as setting out what you plan to do in the assignment.

Reflection on and critical analysis of practice

This is an opportunity to critically reflect on your interview with the service user, what you have learned about yourself and your practice and what you might do differently next time around. The following areas should be covered in your discussion:

  • The way in which you took responsibility for structuring the interview and clarifying both your role and the purpose of the interview.
  • The way in which you established a warm, empathic relationship with the service user, safeguarded the user’s dignity and rights and assured him or her about confidentiality.
  • The way in which you heard and acknowledged the user’s feelings about her or his situation and responded sensitively to both verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • The extent to which you showed your awareness of social work values and issues of power, diversity and discrimination in the approach you took with the service user.
  • Consideration of the knowledge, including theoretical approaches, which supports the skills you employed in the interview and your choice of approach in relation to communication and engagement.

Assessment of the situation

This is your chance to show your understanding of the extent to which good information gathering depends on clarity of role, purpose and relationship. Information gathering is not an assessment in itself but an essential process, which assists initial assessment and informs intervention.

·          Identify, clarify and define the service user’s situation as you saw it, taking into account the meaning or significance of the situation for 

(a) the service user and 

(b) others involved in the service user’s life. 

  • Express an informed opinion or hypothesis of the situation drawing on relevant knowledge and theory to support your assessment. 
  • Using theory, clarify your understanding of the assessment process.
  • Incorporate exploration of your responsibilities to the child(ren) in the scenario. The child(ren)’s needs should, therefore, be considered alongside the adult’s in making your assessment.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the legal and policy context for work that would be undertaken in relation to the scenario.