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This qualitative study explores social work educators’ perceptions on the role of lived experience in teaching within undergraduate and postgraduate social work education programmes across universities in Britain. Thirty-five semi-structured online interviews were conducted with social work educators from 27 universities across Scotland, Wales and England. Findings were that educators indicated specific ways that people with lived experience (PwLE) can transform student learning. They give an opportunity to expose students to different perspectives, challenge stereotypes about people who access services, help students reflect on their own personal and professional values, demonstrate that the curriculum is connected to and grounded in the real world, and provide crucial preparation before practice. While the extant literature highlights the positive benefits of PwLE involvement in higher education programmes, ongoing work is required to support PwLE involvement consistently and sustainably, and to ensure more diverse representation of PwLE in order that students are exposed to a broader, real world understanding of practice.

Original publication




Journal article


Social Work Education

Publication Date