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Unpaid placements as a single parent


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#1 newbub2014

Posted 04 February 2020 - 05:55 PM

So my Masters degree (Social Work) which I am 1/4 of the way through requires two 14 week unpaid placements. Initially I thought I would get RPL for the first one given I have close to 10 years experience in the field, however I can’t get this as I don’t work under a Social Worker at present.  Has anyone else managed such a long unpaid placement as a single parent? I usually work 30 hours a week, so it’s a big hit to be not having that income for 14 weeks. I can’t work at the weekends as I will need to care for DS. I don’t want to miss out on being able to complete my degree because of this, because I worked so hard last year, got a lot out of it professionally and also got really good marks. But it is going to be very very hard to manage! Is it possible to get SPP for this time or not really because I would still be ‘employed’ technically (unless my workplace say no to the 14 weeks unpaid leave which they would be well within their rights to do!)

#2 Beancat

Posted 04 February 2020 - 06:01 PM

You won’t be ‘employed’ you are on a professional placement as part of your degree. You will therefore get the full entitlement of a full time student

Unfortunately it is what it is. Some unis allow part time placement. It will take twice as long but you may be able to work in paid employment

#3 IamtheMumma

Posted 04 February 2020 - 06:15 PM

Talk to your uni. They understand that people have lives and bills. You might be able to condense your work hours to 3 days a week and then do 2 days a week placement during semester/break. I'd ask to work less hours for the 14 weeks so you still have an income.

You can apply for the PPS but it takes months to approve and if you have an income, you drop down the priority list.

I've never had a paid placement, all unpaid in undergrad and post grad. I ended up quitting my permanent position to move to the casual pool in order to be able to do placements.

Having said all that, some unis are very myopic and won't budge from the "this is how we do it" framework.

Edited by IamtheMumma, 04 February 2020 - 06:15 PM.


#4 justbreath

Posted 04 February 2020 - 06:17 PM

Yes, I am in this situation and yes you will get SPP as a student for that period. The drop in income will also change your FTB entitlements and child care entitlements etc.

Can you negotiate part time (but make sure you do the sums as you may end up worse off). I have spread mine across the whole year (different degree).

#5 CallMeFeral

Posted 04 February 2020 - 06:37 PM

View PostBeancat, on 04 February 2020 - 06:01 PM, said:

You won’t be ‘employed’ you are on a professional placement as part of your degree. You will therefore get the full entitlement of a full time student

Even though she is still technically under the employment of her previous workplace (just on leave)?

#6 Staying Strange

Posted 04 February 2020 - 06:53 PM

Hi OP. I'm a social worker and I take students.
My workplace is flexible with students. We offer part time placements so you can continue to work part time (if your workplace allows that)/ csre for family etc.  In fact 4day placements has been the norm for most the students we've had over the past 18months

Are both your placements 500hours? 500hrs over 14weeks is 7hr days,you could also negotiate a slightly longer day (depending on care arrangements) even a 7.5hr day adds up over time.

I'm very happy for you to message me if you'd like to chat. Talk to the uni now the placement coordinators can be very helpful and talk to your workplace now to work out what is possible.

Good luck.

#7 newbub2014

Posted 04 February 2020 - 08:18 PM

Thanks everyone. I did consider the part time option but I doubt my work would be ok with me working 2-3 days a week and definitely not 1. I also was concerned about dragging it out all year, eg if I did 2 days a week of placement it would take 35 weeks to complete if my calculations are correct based on a 7 hour day. There’s probably not much point, the way our services work it’s probably better for them for me to just miss a whole block period. I could ask though, I guess there is no harm in doing that. I’m fairly unhappy there and if not for the placement I’d probably be applying for new jobs, so maybe I’m better off just quitting right before the placement starts, especially if that means I can get single parenting payment, and then working out how else I can afford the cut financially for that time. I was thinking perhaps my bank would let me freeze mortgage payments for that time it at the very least do interest only, although potentially not if I am ‘unemployed’.

DS is in Kindergarten, so unless I send him to before and after school care each day which I wouldn’t, I can’t do much more than a 7 hour day anyway, factoring in potential travel time.
Staying strange yep both 500 hours from what I understand. I will have a chat to the uni about options, although the other Masters students who started last year but were full time so had placement last year all reported a pretty terrible experience with those staff so I’m not sure they are too helpful or organised, and there were a lot of mixed messages.

#8 Mummy2twoBOYS

Posted 04 February 2020 - 08:29 PM

The requirement to complete the 500 hours is very strict.  However the uni may be able to facilitate a flexible placement for you. I was fortunate to be able to do 2 days for a longer stretch of time as I had a young baby. Placement is a significant amount of time and not easy to juggle.

#9 wilding

Posted 26 February 2020 - 10:44 PM

How did you end up with this??

#10 WaitForMe

Posted 27 February 2020 - 06:03 AM

Interesting. I'm in a different field and we take on students. They get paid. Its not compulsory as part of their degree though, but counts as a full time semester's worth of units and must be done full time. Its worth paying for them, even when they aren't really that great they are still an extra set of hands. And sometimes they are fantastic, above and beyond grad level.

Its disappointing all fields/degrees can't manage to pay for it.

#11 bees-knees

Posted 27 February 2020 - 09:04 AM

If you're working in a social work field at the moment, can you do your placement at your existing workplace? They might be  happy for you to continue working (and being paid) but as a student for that period.

#12 lizzzard

Posted 27 February 2020 - 09:58 AM

I’m surprised (but also not in some ways) that there aren’t any paid placement options. I’m also in a field where students need to placements to qualify for registration. We take first year (postgrad) and don’t pay them because we actually end up spending a lot of time on supervision, coaching, review and feedback etc. But if a student is in their last six months then they are practically a grad - we are about to hire someone like this so she will get her final 250 hours worth of supervision signed off and be paid for it.. In your situation i would be looking for roles that offer the opportunity to have your hours signed off, rather than ‘placements’ as such. If you have alot of experience and are doing the degree more for formal qualifications this might be feasible - I’m not familiar with the social work field.

Edited by lizzzard, 27 February 2020 - 10:00 AM.





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