This chapter highlights how different practice perspectives reflect the way we think about and interpret events, and the actions that we take in social work. It begins with a brief account of why a focus on practice perspectives is important and illustrates this importance through the lens of a Knowledge and Skills Framework, designed to integrate theory and practice. In this work, I emphasize that three perspectives can be identified in any practice encounter, namely the perspective of the practitioner, that of the services user and that of the agency – all of which are influenced, in different ways, by the legislative and policy agenda of the government of the day. The chapter focuses on key developments in recent years in child protection in England and draws on a case example to indicate how these different practice perspectives shape the assessment process, decision-making and action in social work.
I started in social work in 1976 and over the years have had a variety of roles – as a residential worker, field social worker, family centre manager and academic. I’m currently retired but regularly present at conferences and lecture in the UK, Europe and Australia on themes covered in my writing or that trouble social workers.
I enjoy writing and am the author of the best-selling 3rd edition text Social Work Skills and Knowledge: A Practice Handbook (2012). In this book, and in other articles I’ve written, I highlight – and attempt to rectify – the superficial coverage given to social work skills in some areas of UK teaching and practice