Finding ways to effectively integrate theory and practice in social work education is a continual challenge and one that the profession has grappled with for many years. Wilson and Kelly aptly describe this as social work’s ‘leitmotif’.
There is much good practice in the sector, with vibrant learning opportunities provided by excellent academic staff and practice educators. Both of us had experience of this in previous roles. But when we worked together on the Frontline programme, the difference was that we had the opportunity to work extensively together as equal partners to support student learning and develop a shared vision for practice.
The Frontline training programme has a different structure to other qualifying routes. Students qualify in one year and are based in ‘units’ in groups of four in a local authority, supervised by a consultant social worker (CSW) and are supported by an academic tutor.
CSWs work alongside students to mentor and model good social work practice, in addition to being their practice educator assessing progress against the Professional Capabilities Framework. Academic tutors visit regularly, spending a day with the unit on each occasion.