Back to the future and back again: Reflections on a student unit


  • Kathryn Hay Director of Field Education at Massey University New Zealand, and paper coordinator for the Bachelor of Social Work placement students.
  • Rob Teppett Registration Advisor for Child Youth and Family, previously the Field Work Educator for social work students undertaking placements in the Manawatu and Greater Wellington area.



social work education, field education, field education placement,


Fieldwork placements are a critical component of social work education. During the 1980s student units were a common model for placements across the statutory social work sector in New Zealand. While these units were replaced in the 1990s and 2000s with a more individualistic approach to social work supervision and placement education, the Site Manager of Child Youth and Family Palmerston North initiated the development of a new unit in 2006. A full-time fieldwork educator was employed to work with social work students on placement. Several benefits of the unit were apparent; however, due to reprioritisation within Child Youth and Family, it was disestablished in 2009. This article traces the establishment and the demise of this student unit and offers comment on the perceived effectiveness of the unit for all of the key stakeholders, that is, the students, Massey University and Child Youth and Family.


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Ellis, G. (1998). Through the looking glass: Fieldwork supervisors’ perceptions of their role and needs for support, education and training. (Unpublished thesis). Massey University, Palmerston North.

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Panui. (March 2008). Building resilient social workers, Issue 77. Child Youth and Family: Wellington.

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How to Cite

Hay, K., & Teppett, R. (2016). Back to the future and back again: Reflections on a student unit. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 23(4), 26–33.