As a teacher I sometimes come across students that have needs that as a teacher I cannot meet. Whether it be a member of my form or a member of my maths class, I have scope to have a huge impact on my students’ learning. However, my impact does have its limits. When I have a difficult phone call or meeting with a parent I often think to myself (in a slight state of panic) “I shouldn’t be having this conversation, I am not a qualified social worker!”
This is why I chose to spend time working with Frontline earlier this summer. Participants on Frontline’s programme will have the privilege to be in a position to change children’s lives. With this great privilege comes responsibility and that is why it’s so important that Frontline finds the right participants to take up the challenge of becoming a frontline social worker.
For two weeks, I was working within the Frontline team who were preparing for the launch of their first national recruitment campaign in September. A lot of this work has entailed scoping and creating content for the website. During my research I was shocked to find out the statistics that show outcomes for children who often rely on social workers. That children in need in Greater London are four times less likely to achieve 5 A*-C including English and Maths is shocking- not least because I’m a Maths teacher in London.
I was also lucky enough to be on set for the filming of the very first Frontline video. It was a fascinating opportunity to listen to testimonials from both social workers and care leavers. One care leaver spoke about how amazing one of his social workers was and how she helped him by caring about what was happening in his life and being a rare adult that he could trust. This convinced me that a career in social work is rewarding and should be seen as an aspirational career by graduates and the rest of society.
The thing that I will miss most when I leave the Frontline office and return to the delights of my often chaotic classroom, will not be the coffee on tap or the quiet and calm surroundings but the wonderful and motivated people I have met. To join Frontline you are becoming part of a network that is united in its drive for positive change for vulnerable children and to be part of that- particularly in its first year- is to be part of something very special.
Rachael is a Maths teacher and part of the Teach First 2011 cohort.