Among the key developmental priorities that have been identified in the current process of reform taking place in social work in the UK is the need to improve social work students' preparedness to meet the challenges they will encounter in practice. This paper contributes to the current debate about this issue by reporting a research study that focused on final year undergraduates' experience of academic and practice learning and considered the impact of demographic factors, including age, gender, disability, previous experience and qualifications, on their perceptions of preparedness. The results indicate that students were satisfied with most aspects of preparatory teaching and learning. However, the findings also highlight areas in which students' preparation could be further enhanced, including their skills in dealing with conflict and managing risk. The results suggest that social work programmes should not overly depend on practice learning to prepare students to address the challenges presented by increasingly complex working environments and that educators need to work closely in collaboration with employing partners to ensure that the curriculum keeps up to date with the changing learning needs of practitioners.
- Student Learning Needs,