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FAQ

Got a question about the Frontline or Firstline programmes? Find answers to common questions below. If you have any further queries then get in touch with us directly.

About Frontline

What is Frontline?

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Frontline is a social work charity. We recruit and develop outstanding individuals to be social workers and leaders to transform the lives of the most vulnerable children and families.

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Why is Frontline needed and what are you trying to change?

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There are thousands of inspirational social workers doing a great job. There just aren’t enough of them. Outstanding social workers can transform life chances for vulnerable children. This transformation can last a lifetime and often makes the difference between a child struggling against disadvantage or reaching their full potential.

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Why do you call social work a leadership profession?

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Good social work involves a range of leadership behaviours. Social workers work directly with children and families, influence a wide range of agencies, balance competing needs within a family, and encourage and support them towards a shared vision. In each of these examples they draw on their personal leadership abilities. The ability to deal with change, factor in other’s perspectives, set clear priorities, make considered decisions and keep the needs of children at the fore, all in a pressured context, requires leadership qualities. We focus in some detail on developing these leadership abilities throughout our leadership development programmes and provide you with the awareness and insight to continue to develop your skill in this area beyond the Frontline and Firstline programmes.

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How is the Frontline programme different to other routes into social work?

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We offer you an exciting practice-based route into social work that combines an innovative curriculum, five-week Summer Institute, 12 months of supervised on-the-job training and a world-class leadership development programme. By the end of Year 1, you will have undertaken more than 200 days on-the-job training – more than in any other route into social work – and almost 46 taught days of study.

You will work in teams of four and benefit from the full-time supervision of a consultant social worker – an advanced and experienced social worker trained by Frontline. This unit participation model was recommended by the Munro Review in 2011. The programme also includes a 30-day placement working with adults to give you experience in a contrasting environment.

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How is Frontline funded?

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The cost of the Frontline programme is split between central government, partner local authorities who fund participants’ second year salaries, and donations and support from corporate partners. The government currently invests in recruitment, training and development for social workers. Frontline funding is one part of this investment.

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How does Frontline select local authorities to work with?

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Frontline operates in set regions and only partners with local authorities (LA) in those regions. Local authorities express an interest in a partnership and Frontline selects partners based on need, the capacity of the LA to provide high quality placements for participants, and the challenges and expectations from both parties.

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Frontline Programme

Eligibility

Am I eligible to apply?

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To apply for our leadership development programme you must have:

  •  A 2:1 or higher in an undergraduate honours degree (predicted or obtained).
  •  At least a C in GCSE English and Maths (or equivalent).

In addition, you will be required to:

  • Demonstrate competence in IT and written and spoken English.
  • Declare any previous offences.
  • Undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (if successful in the application process).
  • Complete a health check questionnaire and give permission for contact with your GP or other medical professional, if necessary, to confirm your suitability for social work training.
  • Have the right to remain and work in the UK for the duration of the programme.

Unfortunately, we will not make any exceptions for applicants. Neither are we able to accept a postgraduate qualification or master’s degree as a substitute for any of our main eligibility criteria. If you do not meet these requirements, and are still interested in applying to be a social worker, please refer to www.ucas.com for further information on courses.

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Which equivalent qualifications apply?

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If you were educated in the UK…

Any qualification that meets Key Skills Level 2 in Maths and English meets our requirement of a minimum GSCE Maths and English at grade C. You can find a full directory of recognised qualifications within the national framework here. Please review this register before contacting us directly.

With regard to the 2:1 undergraduate honours degree, if you have completed an equivalent qualification, you can indicate this on our application form. This will be considered on a case by case basis dependent on the qualification and level of achievement.

If you were educated outside of the UK…

Frontline recognises that applicants educated outside of the UK are likely to have equivalent qualifications from the country in which they completed their education. It is your responsibility to research whether your qualifications are likely to meet our criteria. Certain qualifications can be calculated on the UCAS website. If your application is successful, your qualifications will be checked for equivalency through the NARIC process. International students may be required to pay a fee to determine equivalency. More information can be found here.

If English is not your first language you must be able to communicate to the standard equivalent to level 7 of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with no element below 6.5. If offered a place, applicants are required to provide evidence of attainment of level 7 IELTS or an equivalent qualification at that stage. The test is valid for two years from the date it was taken and must be valid at the point of application.

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I’m not a recent graduate, can I still apply?

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We are looking for outstanding individuals regardless of when they graduated. Many Frontline participants are career changers, and we do not have an age limit on the Frontline programme.

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I am a non-UK citizen. Am I able to apply to Frontline?

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We accept applications from non-UK citizens. If you are from within the EEA, you are able to apply given that you have permission to work in the UK. For more information, please click here.

For non-EEA citizens, you are able to apply as long as you are eligible to work in the UK for the duration of the programme (from the start of the Summer Institute). You should also have recourse to public funds. Unfortunately we are unable to support work visas.

For more information about your eligibility to work in the UK, please check your visa conditions meet the UK Government requirements by clicking here and here.

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I will not be in the country during this autumn/winter. Will this affect my ability to apply?

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All applicants will be required in person at the full-day Assessment Centre in order to gain a place on our programme. We will be running these on a rolling basis from September until mid-January. If there are specific dates where you know you will be unavailable please detail these in your application form.

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If I have been rejected, can I apply again?

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There is no limit to the amount of times you can apply. However, if you are rejected you must wait until applications open for the following year’s cohort before you reapply.

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Am I still eligible if I am already qualified/part-qualified in social work?

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Unfortunately, we are unable to accept applications from those who are already part or fully qualified as social workers. Our course expectation is that our participants will qualify in social work on the programme.

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English is not my first language. Can I still apply?

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Yes, we welcome applications from a diverse range of candidates. If English is not your first language, you must have achieved the required Academic IELTS (“UKVI Academic IELTS” is not a requirement) of an overall score of 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in each section – speaking, reading, writing & listening (n.b. a score of 6.5 in all four categories will be insufficient to give an overall score of 7.0).

The test is valid for two years from the date it was taken. No other English language examination will be accepted nor exceptions be granted. Candidates must hold a valid IELTS certificate at the point of application and any subsequent registration with the GMC. The IELTS can be completed in either a British Council or IDP centre.

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I consider myself to have a disability. How would I be supported if I applied to Frontline?

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We welcome applications from candidates with disabilities and will make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your needs in the assessment process. If you are successful and we offer you a place on the programme, we will discuss with you any adjustments that need to be made throughout the programme.

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I have years of relevant experience but have not completed a degree, can I apply?

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Unfortunately to qualify and practise as a social worker through any training route you must have completed an undergraduate honours degree. We appreciate that you are interested in the profession and can suggest a couple of options:

  1. Consider other careers within the social care field which can be found on the skills for care website: http://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/home/home.aspx
  2. Consider applying for an undergraduate social work course. You can find out about the eligibility requirements here: http://www.ucas.com/
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If I agree to retake my GCSE Maths/English to become eligible for the programme can I still apply now?

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You must have completed and have proof of the required grades for your GCSEs or equivalent at the point of application. The only qualification with which you can apply before receiving your result is your undergraduate honours degree if you are applying whilst still in your final year.

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I do not meet your academic eligibility criteria, can I still apply?

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We are unable to accept applications from those who do not meet the 2:1 honours degree criteria or the grade C in GCSE Maths and English; this is in accordance with the government’s standards and comparable to other social work degree routes. If you do not meet these requirements, and are still interested in applying to be a social worker, please refer to www.ucas.com for further information on other courses.

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I have extenuating circumstances that mean I have not met the eligibility criteria, can I apply?

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We will not consider requests for extenuating circumstances for those who do not have grade C or above for GCSE English and Maths, or do not have a 2:1 or above (obtained or expected) in an undergraduate honours degree.

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I completed a foundation degree, can I still apply?

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Unfortunately we are unable to accept foundation degrees or international equivalents.

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I do not have a 2:1 honours degree, however I have completed a postgraduate diploma or a masters, can I still apply?

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Unfortunately we are unable to accept a postgraduate qualification or master’s degree as a substitute for our main eligibility criteria of a 2:1 undergraduate honours degree, and grade C or above in GCSE Maths and English.

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Application, recruitment and selection process

I’m worried about how I’ll cope in the role – what’s it really like?

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Children’s social work is an exciting and rewarding job but also extremely demanding: mentally, physically and emotionally.  It involves working with families and children in situations of high levels of abuse and neglect, as well as working long hours at short notice.

Social workers have to be responsive to the issues happening in families and any crises that arise, and there is therefore a high level of unpredictability in the role.  At times this can be very challenging. This will be the case in your second year when you’ll have responsibility for your own caseload, but also to some extent in the first year as well.

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How many people have applied to the Frontline programme?

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Frontline has attracted nearly 9,500 applications since applications opened for the 2014 cohort in 2013. We received over 3,000 applications in 2016 for the 2017 cohort. We assess individuals independently against a required standard – should we experience a surplus of applications, we would close the application window early. We recommend early application where possible.

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How do I apply? And when?

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Applications for our 2018 Cohort are now open and will close on 20 November. We recruit on a rolling basis and anticipate a high volume of applications, so recommend you apply early to avoid disappointment. Start your application now. 

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What does the recruitment process involve?

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The recruitment process starts with a self-selection questionnaire on our website, to help you determine if Frontline is right for you. If you wish to apply, you will complete an online competency based application form, followed by a verbal reasoning and situational judgment test.

After this, successful applicants take part in a short video interview. If successful, you will then be invited to the Frontline Assessment Centre where you will participate in various exercises. These will consist of a group exercise, role play, written exercise and interview. The Assessment Centre will give you the opportunity to experience real situations that social workers encounter on a day to day basis.

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Am I able to receive feedback on my application?

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Due to the high volume of applications we are unable to provide feedback to those who are unsuccessful at the application stage. However, feedback will be available to candidates who reach assessment centres.

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When will I hear back from Frontline after submitting my application?

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We aim to contact candidates within 10 working days of submitting your application but please bear in mind that this could be longer during busy periods. If you have been successful at Assessment Centre, we will inform you within three weeks.

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Are all Frontline assessment centres in London?

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As a growing charity with a small recruitment team all assessment centres are held in London (near King’s Cross). The Assessment Centre involves a great deal of resources which would be very difficult to transport to different locations around the country. We have a bespoke space in London which allows us to offer candidates an organised and professional experience. We appreciate that this may mean longer travel for some of our applicants.

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Can I defer for a year?

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Unfortunately Frontline are unable to provide a deferred place as an option at the point of application.

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I have a medical condition or a disability – what do I need to think about in the admissions process?

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Social work involves contact with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society and situations with high levels of risk. If you have a medical condition or disability this may not be a problem in terms of ‘fitness to practise’ provided you can manage your condition.  You should think carefully about how you would manage this in the workplace.  Frontline are committed to creating an environment where you can be successful, but we must consider individual health needs before we confirm your place and complete an occupational health process where necessary. This will involve assessing whether you will be able to practice as a social worker for which you’d need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council and be ‘fit to practise’. (For more information, see here http://www.hcpc-uk.org.uk/complaints/fitnesstopractise/)

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I believe I have a condition that requires an adjustment during the assessment process. What adjustments can be made?

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There is an opportunity on the application form to outline any adjustments that may be needed. We will contact you in advance of the online test and assessment centre to discuss these.

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I am having technical difficulties with my application, what should I do?

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Please find below some solutions to frequently asked technical queries.

I keep trying to access my application but it’s saying I already have applied – what can I do?
When you first click apply and enter your candidate reference number, you should see a message that says “You have already applied to this”. On the left hand side of this message, there should also be a grey box with the words “My application”. Please select this and you will be able to continue with your application.

I can’t move on to the next page/submit my application even though I have entered my information – what can I do to fix this?
Please ensure every single field has been filled or you will not be able to progress with your application. If some of the fields do not apply to you, then please write “n/a” in all of these. You should then be able to progress with your application.

I’m having trouble with accessing my application even though I have my candidate reference number – what should I do?
If you continue to experience technical difficulties, please try and access the application from a different browser. This may also be due to a firewall issue, so do double check this too.

How can I access my application again?
Please enter the candidate portal, with your reference number using this link: https://www.thefrontline.org.uk/application-register-9ey67hdgf

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What do I do if I have made a mistake on the application form?

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If you realise that you have entered anything incorrectly, including academic details, please notify the Recruitment team immediately so that the information can be updated. You can do this by emailing us.

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I have missed the deadline to apply, can I be placed on a reserve list to start next summer?

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Frontline does not operate a reserve list so you will need to apply when applications open again in the autumn.

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I have answered one of the registration questions incorrectly and can no longer carry on with my application, what should I do?

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Please email recruitment@thefrontline.org.uk and we can reset your email address so you can register again. Please do not register with a different email address as this will result in you showing up in our system twice and could lead to this duplicate account being deleted.

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I would like to give feedback or raise a complaint about the recruitment procedures – what should I do?

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We are always looking for ways to improve our recruitment process. Email us with your feedback at recruitment@thefrontline.org.uk.

We try our hardest to treat every applicant equally and fairly but if you feel that we could have done better, then please put this in writing to us. We take any complaints seriously and will investigate these carefully. Please send details of your complaint FAO Graduate Recruitment Director to recruitment@thefrontline.org.uk.

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Joining the Frontline Programme

Where will I be based, and for how long?

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Your first five weeks will be a residential Summer Institute. You will then be placed with a local authority for the following two years in one of our regions; the North West, the Midlands, the North East, London and South Central (which includes Hertfordshire, Central Bedfordshire, Essex and Windsor & Maidenhead) See our locations page for more information.

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How will the two years training be spent?

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  • 5-week residential Summer Institute
  • 12 months’ placement in a local authority alongside three other participants to form a participant unit led by an experienced social worker. You will attend academic sessions to gain a postgraduate diploma by the end of the year.
  • 12 months working as a qualified social worker and the opportunity to complete a fully funded masters.*
  • Throughout the course you’ll be completing a leadership development programme.

*Subject to timely HCPC registration and enrolment to the local authority’s ASYE programme.

See our Programme Details page for more information.

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What does the Summer Institute entail?

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The Summer Institute will provide you with the academic grounding for social work where you will learn key theories. You will also have the opportunity to take part in experiential learning and meet a wider network of professionals who all work together to ensure that children and families are being supported. It is your first part of the Frontline journey and you will work as a cohort with approximately 300 participants.

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Does the five-week Summer Institute include weekends?

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The five week Summer Institute will be full-time Monday to Friday so your weekends are free to spend as you wish.

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What qualifications will I gain on the programme?

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In your first year you will work towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work which will be awarded at the end of year subject to meeting all the requirements. In your second year, you will also work towards a master’s degree.

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What is the Leadership Development programme?

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Leadership development is an integral strand of the Frontline programme. It will be delivered by Frontline’s Leadership Development team. Frontline is keen to ensure you develop the leadership qualities you need to bring about change with families, within the social work profession and beyond.

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Who will deliver the curriculum and training for Frontline?

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The curriculum and training will be designed and delivered by The Frontline Organisation.

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What local authorities are Frontline working with?

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Frontline is working with a number of local authorities across the North West, the North East, the Midlands, London and South Central.

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What will the course cover?

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The curriculum will encompass all aspects of social work with a specific focus on children and families. The guiding principle of the academic programme is that participants be prepared for real front line practice by developing the interactional skills and intervention methods to work with families to effect real, positive change. The programme will cover the theoretical bases that underpin work with children and adults, and these will be continually interwoven into their direct work with families during the year in the local authority.

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How many people will join my cohort?

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104 participants started the programme as part of the 2014 Cohort, 123 participants started the programme in 2015, 157 participants started the programme in 2016 and 290 have started the 2017 Cohort.

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Will I be able to meet the other people I am joining with before I start?

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There will be plenty of opportunities before the programme starts to meet the participants.

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Pay and Employment Terms

How much will I be paid?

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In Year 1, all tuition fees and Summer Institute accommodation costs are met by Frontline. In your first year you will receive a tax and NI exempt bursary which is paid to you quarterly in advance.

  • Inner London: Bursary of £19,591
  • Outer London: Bursary of £18,544
  • Other regions: Bursary of £16,756

In Year 2 you will earn a newly-qualified social worker salary – around £30K depending on local authority and location.

You’ll be responsible for paying for and organising your own accommodation when placed in local authorities in Year 1 and Year 2.

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More information on bursary payments

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In the event that you exit the Frontline programme early, you will be required to pay back any advanced funds already disbursed to you that were intended to support you for the time period after your subsequent withdrawal. You will not be expected to repay any earlier disbursements of the bursary that were intended to support you for time periods prior to your withdrawal.

To receive the bursary you must remain enrolled in the Frontline programme. You must ensure your attendance meets the requirements of the course. You must submit all assignments, attend all recall days and engage in the academic teaching. You must abide by the procedures and regulations of the local authority as they apply to you.

Please be aware that if you fail to achieve the Postgraduate Diploma award following 12 months in the practice learning setting, and an extension of the practice learning experience is required, you are unlikely to receive further bursary funding.

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What pre-employment checks can I expect to be done?

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You can expect:

  • Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) – Frontline will cover the cost of this check
  • Occupational health checks
  • Academic qualification (university transcript)
  • Reference checks
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Will I be entitled to annual leave during the programme?

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You will be entitled to 25 days’ annual leave in your first year of placement within the local authority. In Year 2 you can expect to receive the standard annual leave entitlement from your local authority.

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How will the programme enable participants to transfer to different areas of social work?

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The Frontline programme gives you a generic social work qualification. The experience of contrasting placements in Year 1 will give you the opportunity to explore different areas of practice. The Frontline programme will ensure you have transferrable skills that you can apply to in any other areas of social work.

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Will Frontline’s qualification allow me to practise as a social worker in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?

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The regulators in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have recently informed us that they will now be treating the Frontline qualification differently. Whereas regulators across the UK normally treat registration with HCPC as proof of being able to practise across the UK, Frontline graduates will now face some restrictions to their practice outside of England.

Though we are disappointed that these regulators have taken a different view to their English equivalent (HCPC) you will still be able to practise social work in other parts of the UK with some conditions. This may mean that you need to undertake some consolidation training or have your practice limited to children and families social work.

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After Frontline

Will Frontline participants be ready for the challenges of social work?

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Being a frontline children’s social worker is one of the most challenging professions. Preparing individuals for that work is a huge responsibility which we take seriously. We want great people to take up this challenge, and we’re realistic about what it involves.

Frontline’s selection process is rigorous and provides applicants with a good awareness of what social work entails. This gives Frontline confidence that participants on the programme have a strong understanding of the challenge they are taking on, and are well-equipped to meet this. Participants will have more days in practice before qualifying than in any other route into social work. They will also benefit from expert supervision throughout the programme.

As a result of this, 96% of participants (100) who began in the 2014 Cohort have successfully completed the first year of the programme and obtained their Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work.

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How will participants be supported in placement?

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Day to day, participants will be supported by their consultant social worker who will be leading their unit within a local authority. You will also receive ongoing support from your practice tutor and from members of Frontline’s Programme team.

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What happens after I complete my two years on the programme?

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At the end of the two-year placement, you will have successfully completed the Frontline programme. We encourage you to continue working in your current local authority or practice elsewhere as a social worker. Frontline hopes that alumni from the programme will continue their work to support our mission wherever they are.

Once you have completed the Frontline graduate programme you will be part of the Frontline Fellowship network, a movement of outstanding individuals who are applying themselves to addressing social disadvantage in many different ways. All those who are part of the network will have attended an extended training programme run by Frontline. By 2020 there will be over 1000 Frontline Fellows in the network. Visit our After Frontline page for future career routes.

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Am I guaranteed a job at the end of the programme?

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Your local authority will make a decision at the end of the two years on whether to offer you a permanent contract. In completing the masters alongside the leadership development programme, you will be highly attractive to employers.

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What are my career prospects after Frontline?

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The wide range of skills and experience you’ll gain on the Frontline programme means that there are a range of career choices open to you. See our After Frontlinepage for details.

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Who will this affect?

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This information is only relevant for those of you intending to practise outside of England.

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Will there be any exceptions?

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Each council will consider post-qualifying experience in addition to qualifications to determine whether an applicant meets the requirements for registration.

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How did the regulators reach their decision?

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We do not believe that these regulators have considered evidence from the Frontline programme in reaching their decision, as we have had no requests for our course material and they have not taken evidence from anyone who has undertaken the programme. Alongside HCPC, we will be seeking clarification from these regulators in the coming months.

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Firstline Programme

Who is Firstline aimed at?

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Firstline is unique in that it is a leadership development programme solely for those managing social workers. To be eligible, you must spend the majority of your time managing social workers who work directly with children and families on an ongoing basis.

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What does the programme involve?

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The programme consists of a number of elements that all complement each other. Ranging from small group work and one-to-one sessions, to residentials where you can share your learning with others across the country. The Firstline programme is tailored to your own learning.

See About Firstline for further information about what the programme involves.

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Will I have to do any written essays?

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The programme is all about your personal leadership journey. It’s a demanding programme, and you’ll get out of it what you put in. There aren’t any written essays involved though we’ll ask for a brief summary of your development focus at the end of the programme.

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How do I get involved?

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Firstline works with a discrete number of local authorities across England. In order for the programme to have maximum impact within the authority, and therefore on children and families, we work directly with the senior leadership team in the first instance. This means you must work for a Firstline partner local authority in order to take part. If you are unsure whether your local authority is taking part, please contact us for more information.

If you are a senior manager within a local authority and would like to request further information about the programme, please contact us and we will send over an information pack and further details about next steps.

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Which local authorities have you worked with?

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We have worked with a number of authorities in England. Please see below for a full list of past and current partner authorities:

North West
Blackpool
Cheshire West and Chester
Manchester
Oldham
Wigan

North East and Yorkshire
Gateshead
North Yorkshire
Newcastle
North Tyneside

London and South East
Bexley
Croydon
Essex
Haringey
Harrow
Newham

Midlands and East Anglia
Lincolnshire
Cambridgeshire

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What research is the programme based on?

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Our programme is based on extensive research into what constitutes great social work leadership. You can read the report here.

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Where will the residential modules be based?

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Our residentials take place in York at the Marriott hotel. This is a four-star hotel and you’re well looked after. The residential modules are over two weekdays (usually Tuesday – Wednesday). We invite all leaders to arrive the night before in order to enjoy time with their colleagues and to fully engage with the learning. As we grow and work with new local authorities we will continue to review the location of the residentials.

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What if I can’t attend the residential modules?

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The residential modules provide an essential learning platform for the whole programme. As such, being unable to attend the residential will impact upon your development during the programme. If you are interested in applying for the programme and are concerned that you will be unable to come to the residentials, please get in touch.

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When does the programme happen?

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We have two cohorts running each year, one starting in the spring and one in the autumn. Each programme lasts around 10 months and most sessions throughout this period will happen in your local authority; their exact timings will be flexible and work around your schedule. The only fixed dates will be the residential modules, and we will ensure you know these well in advance of committing to the programme.

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Who will support me on the programme?

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Throughout the programme you will be supported by a number of people including the Firstline team and the senior leadership team at your local authority. Your key support during the programme will come from your leadership development advisor (LDA) who will work with you throughout your one-to-one and group sessions. They will help to unlock your own thinking regarding your development, provide insight from their own experience and challenge you to think differently about your leadership journey. You will be matched with your LDA at the beginning of the programme based on your development needs.

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How is Firstline funded?

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Firstline is predominately funded by the Department for Education’s Innovation Programme. There is also a contribution from our partner local authorities per Firstline leader on the programme.

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