Consultant social workers


As a consultant social worker (CSW) for Frontline, you will be part of a pioneering programme, training the next generation of social workers in your local authority. CSWs play a crucial role in supporting and assessing Frontline participants, developing them into outstanding social workers who will make a real difference to children and families.

Watch the video to hear from consultant social workers, Eric, Florence and Marion, who discuss why they applied to become a consultant social worker and what the role has been like so far.

The Role


Each CSW is responsible for four or five participants who are undertaking their Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. CSWs work with participants using a unit model approach – a systemic practice model for working with families, with cases managed through weekly unit meetings. These meetings provide a dynamic learning environment and a reflective space to think systemically about the cases in your unit. The role offers those who wish to remain in practice the opportunity to do so alongside the chance to take on supervisory and management responsibility for a small team. The CSW role involves three core elements.


As a CSW you will be involved in working directly with children and families allocated to your unit. A key way in which the participants will learn will be through observing your practice with these families. Over the course of the year you will ensure your participants are exposed to a wide range of different cases, gradually increasing the complexity of their work as they take on more responsibility.


You will be the practice educator for each participant. At Frontline we place an emphasis on direct observation of practice, and over the year you will observe and grade direct observations of each participants’ practice. You will be responsible for their overall assessment, and will recommend if they should qualify as social workers at the end of the year. You don’t need to have previously been a practice educator, as during your training you will work towards achieving the stage two of the Practice Educator Professional Standards.


You will have overall management and oversight of the unit and sit within the management structure in your local authority. You will be responsible for day-to-day decision making on work with families in the unit, and will manage and supervise your participants. By leading this innovative unit you will be in a unique position to influence and shape practice across the local authority. The role is challenging, but immensely rewarding as CSWs help their participants develop their professional practice over the course of the year.

What will I get from being a CSW?

  • An exciting opportunity for experienced practitioners to remain in practice whilst also taking on a management and teaching role.
  • A protected workload and a real chance to develop outstanding practice with high potential participants.
  • Access to a high quality leadership development programme – 21 days’ training over approximately 12 months, delivered by top practice experts. This includes training in motivational interviewing and parenting interventions. You will also have the opportunity to work towards a Certificate in Systemic Practice that is equivalent to a foundation year programme (fees may apply).
  • Opportunities to influence and shape both practice and practice education across your local authority.
  • A dedicated practice tutor who will support you and your participants throughout the year to ensure the research, theory and practice models we teach are continuously embedded into your work. Your practice tutor will act as a mentor, providing you with additional space to think and reflect.
  • Be part of a national network of CSWs contributing to innovations in practice and broader social work reform, and the chance to attend a number of additional training and networking events.
  • The opportunity to join the Frontline Fellowship after you have completed one year as a CSW.

CSW Development Programme


Frontline places a huge emphasis on the training and development of CSWs, and all successful candidates undertake CSW Practice Leadership training.



The programme encompasses the following:

  • Teaching on core practice models and approaches taught in the Frontline curriculum: systemic practice, motivational interviewing and parenting interventions.
  • Training in the unit model approach: how to run effective unit meetings and reflective supervision. 
  • Teaching and support in the skills required to be an effective practice educator. This will include supporting you in how to get the best out of direct observations of practice, how to give feedback and how to grade these observations. The training programme offers a portfolio route for achieving the Practice Educator Professional Standards (PEPS) at stage two after one year in the role.
  • In addition to 21 days of training, you will have access to mentoring from your practice tutor. You will also have an opportunity to participate in smaller group action learning sets through the year with other CSWs from across your region.

After one year in post there are further opportunities for development. These include joining the Frontline Fellowship, contributing to teaching on the academic programme, and developing and utilising coaching skills with your peers.



We hope that CSWs will stay engaged with our mission and vision throughout their social work career. We are committed to continuing to support individuals that work with Frontline. Therefore, once you have completed one year as a consultant social worker, you will automatically become part of the Frontline Fellowship.

The Frontline Fellowship is a movement of outstanding individuals who are applying themselves to address social disadvantage in different ways, and who have all received training from Frontline. We recognise the important role that Frontline fellows play in the future of disadvantaged children and families. Therefore, we are committed to facilitating opportunities within three specific areas: practice, policy and innovation, to support the fellowship in their vital work. We encourage and look to fellows to actively drive and influence the direction of the Fellowship. Find out more.



what we’re looking for


We want social workers with a high level of practice skill, a strong ability to engage with children and families, and a proven track record in managing complex child protection and risk. Candidates must have experience of frontline child protection social work and confidence in their own practice. 


We are interested in candidates that demonstrate an enthusiasm for developing others by teaching and modelling great practice, and have the energy and warmth to support participants on the programme.


We want individuals who understand good practice and want to see social work transformed to achieve the best outcomes for children and families.


Applicants do not need to have trained already in the models used by Frontline (systemic practice, motivational interviewing and parenting interventions). However, they should have a good understanding of evidence-based models, and must be able to demonstrate their ability to apply theory to practice.


While you do not have to have previous management or supervisory experience, you will need to demonstrate the leadership qualities required to tackle the challenges of managing the participant unit.


You need to be committed to participating in training and working towards your Practice Educator qualification where required. Training on the CSW programme can also help you to meet the continuous professional development requirements of your Social Work England registration.



You may find the application and recruitment process for the CSW role is different to previous social work roles you have applied for. Please do not let that deter you from applying for the role.



We understand applying for a new role can be a stressful experience, and this combined with a new approach to recruitment may cause people additional anxieties. At Frontline, we want to ensure you have every opportunity to demonstrate all your skills and abilities and will ensure you are fully prepared. You will have dedicated support from a member of the team to take you through each stage of the process.

People who have been successful in the CSW assessment process are appointed as CSWs internally within the local authority. You remain an employee of your local authority and are seconded into the CSW role: initially for 12 months, for one cohort. However, many CSWs continue in the role for a second or third year.

Frontline actively encourages applications from diverse backgrounds including black and minority ethnic groups.



There are two parts to the application process:

1. Local authority application form accessed through your council’s website

You should complete the personal information, employment history, and education and qualification sections. Please note you do not need to complete the additional information section of the application form.

2. Video interview

The video interview is an opportunity for us to get to know you in advance of the CSW assessment day. If this is something new or unfamiliar to you, please do not let it put you off applying for the role. We are here to support you every step of the way. You will answer five questions and will have 90 seconds for each question. You can complete the interview using a mobile phone, tablet or laptop. You will be able to access dedicated support to talk you through the process, so if you are unfamiliar with technology, we will ensure you are able to access the system without any problems. If you are successful at this stage, you will be shortlisted and invited to a CSW assessment day.

“The part I was most worried about in regards to the video interview was the actual technological part of it! However, it was so easy and simple to complete, the support provided online was also very helpful. I enjoyed completing the video interview as I liked the idea that the interviewer got to see me as a person rather than just words on a piece of paper, as sometimes it’s hard to put into words what I actually want to say.” – Rebecca Taylor – CSW, Stoke On Trent





At Frontline we feel traditional interviews alone do not give people sufficient opportunity to demonstrate their full range of knowledge and skills. This is why we have developed the CSW Assessment Day.

We have designed the day specifically to assess a broad range of skills, and it is a great opportunity for you to show us why you are right for the role. You will have the chance to demonstrate your skills in a wide range of different areas.

1. Competency based interview – A representative from your local authority and Frontline will ask you seven questions based around each of the competencies outlined in the CSW person specification.

2. Written activity – In this activity, you will have a scenario of a typical case that, if successful, you might be responsible for as the CSW. You will be asked to provide an analysis of the case.

3. Listening activity – In this activity you will listen to an audio recording of a participant’s practice and provide written feedback to them.

4. Simulated role play – The role-play is based on a scenario where a participant comes to you asking for advice about a home visit they are going on. You will support the participant to deal with their concerns about the case and support them to identify a plan for the visit.

“I attended the assessment day and was initially very anxious about the whole process. On arrival I met Rob who immediately put me at ease. He described the day in an informal way and explained that the day was to get the best out of us as applicants.

Throughout the day we had short breaks in between each session where again Rob chatted to us and generally made the day less of a daunting experience. Although I was anxious, the day was to my surprise, an opportunity to expand on my experience in a relaxed informal setting.’’ Leanne Broxton – CSW, Wolverhampton


day in the life


Considering applying for a consultant social worker position? Take a look at what two typical days might look like:


9.30am – Children in need review meeting
There are three children in the family and there is a large professional network. You are supporting one of your participants who is chairing a meeting for the first time. You have an opportunity to debrief them after the meeting before going to your next visit. 

11.30am – Home visit
You are undertaking an assessment with another participant from the unit. In this session you are exploring concerns about the parent’s historical and current substance misuse. During the visit you are assisting the participant to apply motivational interviewing techniques. 

2pm – Home visit and graded direct observation
You are undertaking a formal graded observation of another participant in the unit. Following the visit you give initial feedback to them.

3.30pm – Section 47 investigation and child protection medical
You need to start a Section 47 investigation after a child makes a disclosure of physical abuse. A participant accompanies you and it is the first time they have been part of this kind of investigation. You will be taking the lead but expect the participant to be fully involved in the process. Through observing your own skills and practice the participant will be asked to think and reflect about each stage of the assessment and decision making process.



9.30am – 12.30pm – Weekly unit meeting and practice tutor visit
The weekly unit meeting is where all case supervision and management happens. Today your practice tutor is joining the unit. During the meeting you spend time reflecting on the impact one case has had on the participants after the children have been temporarily placed in foster care. It is an opportunity to revisit teaching around developing emotional resilience in social work. You then spend time thinking about the impact the events have had on the children and devise a plan of work that will explore if the children can be rehabilitated at home.

You have a new case where there is a high level of concern about domestic abuse. The practice tutor has brought a piece of research about engaging with perpetrators of domestic abuse, to help the unit think about some of the complexities of engaging with the parents. You support the unit in developing their initial ideas about what might be happening in the family, and help them to structure and plan the assessment.

2pm – 4pm – Marking a direct observation
While the practice tutor is delivering teaching to the unit, you are able to grade and give written feedback on the direct observation of practice you undertook yesterday.

4pm – One-to-one coaching session with your practice tutor
An opportunity to reflect on particular issues that have arisen since you last met, and to think about your current assessment of your participants individually and the unit as a whole.