This week we welcomed over 120 Frontline participants to the Frontline Summer Institute, taking the first steps of a life-changing journey. Over the past five days, I have seen a kaleidoscope of emotions in the participants, ranging from excitement and enthusiasm to trepidation and apprehension. As the week has progressed, I have been somewhat surprised to find myself experiencing exactly the same feelings. This is because I, myself, have begun a new journey from a Safeguarding Social Worker to Academic Tutor.
When asked if I would be willing to write the first week’s blog, I was apprehensive. I was unsure if I would have enough to write about. I needn’t have worried, as day one alone provided many interesting elements for me to reflect upon. The day started with an inspirational and poignant talk from Jenny Molloy (Hackney Child). Later, at the Opening Ceremony, Chelseigh’s thought-provoking poem around her experiences of care left a lasting impression on me. Followed by an equally moving, articulate and eloquent speech that George from Kratos, Enfield’s Children in Care Council delivered. On Wednesday, I was extremely impressed by the way in which the participants fully engaged with the comprehensive and detailed law lecture delivered by Michael Preston-Shoot. The energy and passion generated in the room was a true indicator of the quality, motivation and capabilities of the participants.
On Friday morning David Wilkins made the practice experience come alive in the lecture theatre. His humorous and informative films portrayed a week in the life of a social worker. I am confident that his presentation helped the participants link the learning they had been given around social justice and social policy to the realities of practice.
The first week finished with the cohort meeting three inspiring parents that Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive of the Family Rights Group invited to the Summer Institute. The courage and dignity Declan, Laura and Enza demonstrated during their heart-felt and personal speeches moved the whole room. This session in particular underlines the importance of an upcoming key note lecture from Louise Grant which will explore emotional literacy and self-awareness. This will help academic tutors and participants alike process the experience.
I firmly believe that the next generation of social workers has to be able to balance astuteness and intellect with compassion and self-reflection, it was wonderful to witness such attributes displayed by the participants in their first week. I joined the Frontline Academy to be a part of a team that integrates academic and practice-based learning, the notion that child protection social workers will be able to think with both heart and head can only be of benefit for children and families.
At the start of the week, I was concerned that I would not be able to make the adjustment from Safeguarding Social Worker to Academic Tutor. However, by Friday I was grateful for the opportunity to continue to grow, develop and learn alongside such a wonderful group of people.
Becky Brewer is an Academic Tutor at the Frontline Academy