Frontline gets go ahead to change lives through children’s social work

16th August 2013

A new organisation, with the specific aim of boosting the image of social work and getting the very best people into the profession, today received the Government’s green light to start recruiting candidates for one of Britain’s toughest jobs from this September.

Frontline, which has received cross-party support, will attract, recruit and develop high potential individuals to be leaders in children’s social work and broader society.  Frontline is a work-based route into children’s social work that aims to attract people that might not have considered a career in the profession before.

Through an innovative two year programme, high potential graduates and career switchers will be given excellent academic and on-the-job experience to develop them into outstanding social workers and ultimately transform the lives of vulnerable children.

Today’s announcement from the Department of Education means that Frontline will begin recruiting candidates from this September so that the first cohort can start working in local authorities in Greater Manchester and Greater London from summer 2014.

The Frontline programme will last two years and be structured as:

  • An intensive five-week residential summer institute;
  • The first 12 months as intensive on-the-job training and education with full time supervision from an experienced social worker;
  •  At the end of the first year participants will be qualified to practice and then undertake a second year as a newly qualified social worker.

Participants will be paid over these two years and will be based with the same local authority.  At the end of the programme they will be awarded a Masters degree.  The Frontline proposals have been in development for 18 months, in consultation with employers, academics and professional bodies.

As an independent organisation, Frontline will be able to focus on recruiting and developing people to become outstanding social workers. Frontline is supported and incubated in its development phase by ARK, the international children’s charity, so that it can become a successful independent organisation. Frontline will also be attracting support from corporate and private sector supporters so that it can have maximum impact.  

Josh MacAlister, Chief Executive of Frontline, said:

“Today’s announcement will allow Frontline to make a bold offer to the best and the brightest: make a difference and develop as a leader in one of Britain’s toughest jobs. We are delighted to receive cross party support for the launch of a new organisation that will be totally dedicated to transforming life chances for the most vulnerable children.  Social work should be one of the most attractive and prestigious career choices which offers the very best training. Today’s announcement will help us start this work.”   

Lord Andrew Adonis, Chair of the Frontline board, said:

“I know first-hand the importance of having a great social worker. There is an urgent need to transform life chances for abused and neglected children and Frontline will play a vital part in addressing this national challenge. In ten short years Teach First has helped make teaching one of the top career choices in the country. Frontline can now do the same for social work.”

Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, said:

“Good social workers literally save lives; the bad can leave them in ruins. I am delighted that Isabelle Trowler has agreed to lead our reform programme; to challenge as well as to champion the profession so that vulnerable children and families are better protected.

“I am also very pleased to announce our support for Frontline, an exciting proposal and a real challenge for the brightest applicants who will have the privilege and satisfaction of helping to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children in the country.”

David Laws MP, Minister of State for Schools, said:

“Quite simply, great social work is about changing children’s lives. Being a social worker is often hugely tough and challenging, but it can also be hugely rewarding for those who want to make a difference for the most vulnerable families and young people. Frontline is a fantastic initiative and I strongly support their mission to get the very best graduates into the social work profession.”

Stephen Twigg MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:

“Frontline is an exciting opportunity that could play a major role in reforming children’s social work. Getting great people into one of Britain’s toughest jobs to lead change with children and families is one of our top priorities for transforming the life changes for some of society’s most vulnerable. Frontline has my full support.”

Dave Hill, Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said:

“ADCS welcomes the potential contribution that Frontline can make to the education and training of social workers. We would want to support the development of the programme and will continue to work with Frontline to shape and support the work, ensuring that the long term impact of Frontline is a positive one that adds to the overall development of social work education by ensuring it provides sufficient breadth of experience and knowledge and adheres to current regulations and good practice.”


Editor’s notes:

Frontline’s mission is to “Transform life chances of vulnerable children by recruiting and developing outstanding individuals to be leaders in social work and broader society.” The programme has achieved cross-party and employer support:

Chief Executive Josh MacAlister had the original idea for Frontline based on his experiences on the Teach First programme. He completed the report with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

Frontline is supported in its development phase by ARK, the international children’s charity which runs education, health and children’s welfare programmes in the UK and overseas.

The Frontline programme will begin with a first cohort of 100 participants based in Greater London and Greater Manchester. Participants will work in local authority child protection teams.  In the first year they will co-work cases with an experienced social worker before they qualify and take on their own caseload.