The right tools for the right job: Social work students learning community development

Chris Barron, Brian J Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


The place of community development within social work varies across nations and time. The tensions in the 1970s in the UK gave way to decades when social work has been dominated by issues relating to protecting and caring for individuals. We now have a resurgence of community development activity, bringing together varied disciplines such as urban planning and health promotion as well as social work. Within the U.K. there are now requirements for community development knowledge and skills within qualifying social work training. This paper reflects on experiences in promoting community development practice learning in social work qualifying placements within Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland. Issues are raised about the diversity and complexity of expectations on qualifying training, and the challenges that face universities, colleges and employing organisations in developing practice learning in this curriculum area. The prospects for improving community development learning within both qualifying and post qualifying education and training are considered particularly in the light of inter-professional and inter-organisational initiatives that put community development on the context of health promotion, housing, crime, poverty and other social issues that might be addressed at community level to improve the health and social well-being of citizens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-385
JournalSocial Work Education: The International Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jun 2010


  • Community networks
  • social work
  • education
  • professional
  • graduate
  • practice curriculum
  • community development
  • community work
  • Northern Ireland.


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