EMA Reflective essay

For this EMA, you should present your assignment as a reflective essay and include critical discussion of the following points:

  1. The purpose of your placement setting, identifying its social policy and legislative context and evaluating its effectiveness. (This could include demonstrating understanding of the impact of personal/cultural/structural factors on a service user group.)
  2. How you gained an understanding of the service user/carer/family/group situation and how you identified and responded to issues of risk of harm and safeguarding with them.
  3. The values, skills and knowledge that you drew on in this work, drawing on relevant ethical frameworks, research, theory, legislation and professional supervision to identify an appropriate approach to practice. Discuss how you addressed ethical dilemmas and balanced risks and rights.
  4. The process of information sharing and the contribution of other relevant professionals to safeguarding and responding to risk of harm.
  5. The outcome of the strategy adopted to address risk and prevent harm. You should analyse, justify and evaluate the approach taken, supporting your account with relevant social work theory, legislation and research findings.
  6. Critical reflection on your own practice and identification of what you have learned from working with this service user/carer/family/group, and from feedback from others, including colleagues and your practice educator. Identify future professional development priorities for your first year in qualified practice.

Read the guidance section fully before commencing this assignment.

Note that the above six points are not intended as ‘questions’ or ‘sections’ which have to be answered separately. The list of points is intended to offer clarity about what should be included in responding to the essay question as a whole. In planning how to structure your essay, you may decide to emphasise some elements more than others depending on the practice that you are writing about. However, make sure that you give sufficient attention to each aspect. Your essay should have a logical and clear structure, and you may find the above list a useful guide.

This assignment offers you an opportunity to show how your understanding of policy, law and theories has informed your practice. Your EMA should focus on your work during your K833 placement and draw upon Blocks 4, 5, 7 and 8 as appropriate. In addition, it may be relevant to refer to material from your K832 studies. In order to address the learning outcomes for this assignment, you will need to draw upon relevant external sources as well as module materials.

Make use of the essay’s introduction to summarise important contextual information about your placement. The EMA is marked by two tutors, and one of them will be unfamiliar with your placement context. In introducing the case example, clearly summarise the agency context and your own role in the work that was undertaken with the service user/carer/family/group. It may be, for instance, that you were co-working with a colleague. Briefly clarify whether the work involved a formal assessment or another kind of intervention or response to risk. You may include an appendix if necessary (see below).

In order to critically analyse and reflect on your own practice, you should ideally choose an example where you made a substantial contribution to working with concerns about actual or potential risk of harm and safeguarding issues. This can include a piece of your own practice which involved co-working with another professional, or contributing to a piece of work led by another professional. If you are concerned that your own practice contribution was limited by the nature of your placement, note the context in the essay’s introduction. You should nevertheless address all the required points, explaining any instances of how and where your own practice was limited. Consult your module tutor if you are having difficulty identifying a suitable practice example.

The concepts of ‘risk of harm’ and ‘safeguarding’ are relevant to any placement. For the purpose of this assignment, you do not need to be in a statutory agency; and your practice example does not have to involve a statutory process. The risk of harm that you choose to write about might include, for example, risks related to moving from one setting to another or to a change in family dynamics due to separation, illness or death. It may be a known risk of harm (for example, after someone has been convicted of an offence or has self-harmed), or about exploring ways to prevent possible future risk of harm. Even if safeguarding and assessment of harm and risk are not formal, statutory processes in your placement agency, you should nevertheless show the steps, theories and approaches that you used in gaining an understanding of risks to service users, their needs and wishes, and how you evaluated and responded to risks.

Make sure that you choose to reflect on an example that enables you to critically discuss the application of social work values and theories in some depth. Your analysis should explore in detail the advantages and disadvantages of potentially relevant theories, and show the reasons why you chose particular courses of action. Whatever the placement context, your practice example is unlikely to be a neat ‘success story’. For example, you might have encountered a dilemma about resources or competing views which could not be fully resolved; or you might have received feedback which – although difficult to hear – has helped you to move forward. During this module, you have written Critical Records of Practice that required you to reflect on your application of values and use knowledge in practice, so that you can evidence that you have met standards for professional practice and that you can be an accountable and ethical practitioner. You might find that one or more of your Critical Records of Practice provides case material on which to base your EMA.

The example selected should ideally provide an opportunity to reflect on how you engaged in collaborative work with other professionals or agencies. Given the nature of risk and safeguarding, it is likely that you will have had the opportunity for some collaborative work. Alternatively, you could reflect on the implications, for this practice intervention, of having had limited opportunities for collaborative work in your placement context. Either way, your discussion should include a consideration of the advantages and challenges involved in collaborative work with other professionals or agencies.

Although the word count for this assignment is longer than the TMAs, it is still limited. You need to be brief in your description in order to allow for a critical analysis and evaluation of the knowledge from theories you used when working with service users. You can include appendices and make reference to their content in your discussion, for example, law and theory cards, a case summary, assessment documentation etc. Appendices will not be included in your work count. There should be no more than five appendices.

You must ensure that your EMA is thoroughly anonymised. You need to make it clear that you have disguised the identities of individuals. Agencies and locations should not be identifiable.

We suggest you look at the Learning outcomes when planning your assignment and review your completed work against them before submitting your EMA.

Markers will expect to see effective use has been made of the module materials, including your set theory reader and law reader, Readings book, academic journal articles, media resources and web-based resources to support analysis and arguments made.


List the publication details of all the works you have referenced in your essay. This should help markers to understand the literature you are familiar with. The reference list is not included in the word count. Please follow the following referencing approach and guidance.