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As a consultant social worker (CSW) for Frontline, you will be part of a pioneering programme, training and developing 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.

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 – 20 days’ training over 18 months, delivered by top practice experts. This includes training in motivational interviewing and social learning theory. You will also have the opportunity to work towards a Postgraduate Certificate in Systemic Practice (fees may apply).
  • 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.
  • Access to one-to-one coaching and mentoring from a practice tutor. This will provide additional space for you to think and reflect, and give you the opportunity to maximise your full potential.
  • Opportunities to influence and shape both practice and practice education across your local authority.
  • Be part of a national network of CSWs contributing to innovations in practice and broader social work reform, and the chance to attend our national CSW conference.
  • The opportunity to join the Frontline Fellowship if you continue in the role for two or more years.

The Role

Each CSW is responsible for four 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 seven 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 with the first line management structure in your local authority. You will be responsible for day-to-day decision making on cases 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.

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. For those remaining in the role for a second year there will be the opportunity to work towards the foundation level Postgraduate Certificate in Systemic Practice.
  • Training in the unit model approach: how to run effective unit meetings and reflective supervision. In addition to training days, there will be additional case consultations to help you apply these ideas to your work.
  • 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 20 days of training, you will have access to one-to-one coaching and mentoring from your practice tutor. You will also have an opportunity to participate in smaller group coaching through the year with other CSWs from across your region.

For our 2017 cohort we will have around 75 CSWs across five regions, and there is a huge range of knowledge and skill within this network. In recognition of the huge amount of innovative work our CSWs do, each year we hold a national conference which brings all our CSWs together. This includes a variety of different seminars led by CSWs, and is a great opportunity to share expertise.


If CSWs remain in post beyond two years, 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 two years or more as a consultant social worker you will automatically become part of the Frontline Fellowship.

Two years or more in role as a consultant social worker includes the following: two years in role as an active CSW or one year as a reserve CSW and one year as an active CSW.


The Frontline Fellowship is a movement of outstanding individuals who are applying themselves to address social disadvantage in different ways, who have all received training from Frontline.

We recognise the important role that Frontline fellows play in the future of vulnerable 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. Whilst candidates must have experience of frontline child protection social work, commitment to and confidence in their own practice are more important than the length of experience.


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. 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 four participants.


You need to be committed to participating in training and making good use of coaching.

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 the meeting as it is the first time they have chaired a meeting of this size. 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.

One of the cases you discuss involves a mother with mental health difficulties. Following a recent episode of ill health, the children have been placed in foster care under a Section 20 agreement. During the discussion, you spend time reflecting with the unit on the emotional impact this has had on them. It is an opportunity to revisit teaching around developing emotional resilience in social work good practice. You then spend time thinking about the impact the events have had on the children and devise a plan of work that will look at how the mother can be supported to care for the children at home.

You have another case where there is a high level of concern about domestic abuse and you have been struggling to engage with the parents. The practice tutor has brought a piece of research on engaging with perpetrators of domestic abuse, to help the unit think about some of the complexities of engaging with the parents. You help the participants think about the protective factors and risks and, based on your current assessment, you devise a plan of work with the family.

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.