“Creative, expressive, enthusiastic, welcoming, attentive, observant, inclusive…” These are just a few of the words used by UEL’s Social Work students to describe the young people from Charlton Park Academy that they had the pleasure to work with over the last two terms.
Each year a group of Social Work students have an opportunity to work with young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) as part of the ‘Advocacy Pathway’ partnership developed between the RIX Centre and Charlton Park Academy.
The Advocacy Pathway is run by Gosia Kwiatkowska, Co-Director of RIX and a Senior Lecturer with UEL. This is part of the University of East London’s prestigious Social Work Programme and is offered to first-year undergraduate Social Work students as part of their ‘Readiness for Practice’ module. The students who engage in the Advocacy Pathway, have an opportunity to meet children and young people with additional needs and work together with them, using RIX Wiki software and the Multimedia Advocacy approach to develop and practice the pupils’ self-advocacy skills.
This year’s Social Work students celebrated the completion of the Advocacy Pathway 2020 with the pupils and their teaching staff. Five young people who presented their completed RIX Wikis were awarded RIX Wiki Champion accreditation. The UEL students reflected on their learning journeys and shared how they had experienced a significant change in their perception of people with learning disabilities as a result of this unique opportunity. Each Social Work student completed their presentation with slides that celebrated the many positive qualities of the various learners with whom they had the good fortune to work.
Kathryn Stowell, Head of ICT, Outreach and Communication, Charlton Park, commented “The Advocacy Pathway is a really important programme and I am delighted to see the shift of the Social Work students attitudes from being anxious, scared, and almost afraid of people with learning disabilities at the beginning of the programme to recognising each individual’s skills and abilities and the many gifts that they have to offer. This really shows the importance of educational programmes such as this one to challenge attitudes and promote inclusion. It was lovely to see how their relationships have developed. The Social workers have learned a lot about communication and interaction with the young people. One thing that was really delightful was when they shared what they had learned and the positive qualities of the young people they were working with. Our students looked embarrassed hearing those positive qualities! People often focus on their disabilities and what they need to improve, so it was nice for them to hear the positive things!”
The RIX team would like to congratulate the young people and our Social Works students on their achievements.