Damned if we do... Damned if we don't: Using Classroom debates to teach and assess students' knowledge and skills

No matter what area of practice they work in, social workers operate within specific legal frameworks. Although it is essential that our students are equipped with an understanding of how the law affects the everyday lives of the people we work with, and every day social work practice, it involves so much more than tutors just teaching and them just learning the legal rules. Because whilst the law provides the framework for practice, it doesn’t and can’t tell social workers what to do in every circumstance, and it doesn’t provide answers to the complex tensions, dilemmas and conflicts that social workers face every day. As social workers we have to be clear that our actions are underpinned by law but nonetheless it’s a fine line when there are difficult decisions to be made, when the interests, needs and rights of individuals may be in conflict, or when we are trying to balance the respect for a person to live their life in the way they want alongside our statutory duty to protect people from harm.
This workshop explores how we have used classroom debates to teach and assess law to help students prepare for practice and ‘the real world’. As such it will have relevance for teaching and learning in all subjects where students, tutors and practitioners must understand complexity, uncertainty, be open to competing perspectives, disagree with others and be prepared to have our opinions open to scrutiny.

The workshop will be facilitated by module tutors. Using interactive exercises, student feedback, our own evaluations and reflections, we hope to encourage participants to challenge, debate and disagree with each other and with us.


Workshop Overview


Ruth Neville, Vicky Styan