Frontline programme

Our two-year, salaried social work training programme offers you a unique opportunity to work directly with children and families, helping them make positive changes in their lives.

Your Frontline journey

On the Frontline programme you’ll receive intensive training and support to develop the essential skills needed to create social change for children and families.

You will qualify as a social worker and complete a fully-funded MSc in Advanced Relationship-Based Social Work Practice with Children and Families.

The summer institute

Five weeks of intensive training will build the foundations of the knowledge and skills required for your local authority placement. The summer institute runs from mid-July to mid-August.

Year 1 of the programme

Frontline participants work in a local authority in units, usually of four, supported and led by an experienced social worker. You’ll also receive regular visits from your practice tutor, whilst working towards the first 120 credits of your master’s degree.

Year 2 of the programme

You’ll be a newly qualified social worker employed in children’s services by your local authority and supported to hold your own caseload. You’ll continue working towards a Master’s Degree in Advanced Relationship Based Social Work Practice.

Leadership development

Good social work involves a range of leadership behaviours. We focus in some detail on developing these leadership abilities throughout the Frontline programme and offer coaching in year 2 to further develop your social work leadership skills.

The local authorities we work with

We partner with a range of local authorities across England.


By completing our programme you will automatically join the Frontline Fellowship: a community of individuals who are applying themselves to address social disadvantage in different ways. You will continue to be inspired and supported by like-minded fellows who are working to pursue wider social justice and change for vulnerable children and families.


Our policy documents contain the terms and conditions for Frontline participants.

Why social work?

Each year in England alone, over 700,000 children rely on the support of social workers. These children, and their families, face some of the worst life chances. We believe it’s time for change.

Children, young people and their families need support when they are going through difficult times. You’ll work directly with the most disadvantaged in society and empower them to bring about positive change in their lives.

During your training, you’ll develop a range of skills, including relationship-building, conflict resolution and leadership. You will receive high-quality supervision and training from experienced social workers, academics and professional coaches.

For the most disadvantaged, receiving support from a social worker can make a significant difference to the direction their lives take. Join us on the Frontline programme and that difference could be you.




Imagine a world where no child’s life chances are limited by their social or family circumstance. On the Frontline programme, that’s the future you will be working towards.

Together we can achieve social change for children who don’t have a safe or stable home.



You will earn while you study to qualify as a social worker and achieve a fully-funded master’s degree. In year one you will receive a tax-exempt bursary of £18k or £20k in London. This is equivalent to a salary of £21k or £24k.

As a newly qualified social worker in year two, you will earn a salary between £25k and £34k depending on location.



In year one of the programme, you’ll work on real life cases in small groups, led by an experienced social worker. Working as a team, you will help each other to develop and succeed, with additional support from your practice tutor.

During your second year, you’ll receive continued support from your practice tutor and local authority, along with professional coaching to develop your leadership skills.



Intensive training and support will develop your skills in leadership, conflict resolution, analysis and relationship building, which will help you drive social change inside the social work profession and beyond.



You’ll work with and advise a wide range of professionals in health, education, the criminal justice system and beyond to bring about positive change in the lives of disadvantaged children and families.



After you complete the programme you will join the Fellowship, a growing community of over 2,000 social workers.

Fellows continue to develop their skills, share excellent practice, and explore ideas and initiatives that will bring about real and sustainable change for children and families. You will receive ongoing support and training throughout your career.


We are looking for individuals committed to making a difference for disadvantaged children and families. Like social work itself, the Frontline programme is both intellectually and emotionally challenging.

During the selection process, we will be looking for evidence of the following competencies, as well as good time management and professional conduct.

We are looking for people who want to work closely with children and families to keep them safe, healthy and happy.
You need to be able to actively identify your strengths and weaknesses in a given situation and the impact these have on yourself and others.
Social work is intellectually and emotionally challenging. You need to demonstrate the capacity to overcome adversity and be creative when working through challenges.
Effective communication
Good social workers will communicate professionally, flexibly and intuitively with children, families, colleagues and many other external stakeholders. You must demonstrate a range of effective communication, including verbal, non-verbal and written.
Empathy and relationships
Being able to recognise and understand different emotional states and any associated behaviours is very important. You should be able to respond with empathy whilst remaining professional.
Analysis and adaptability
Social work practice is very complicated and time-pressured. We are looking for people who can identify risks and key points from lots of information and critically evaluate a range of possibilities.
Social workers empower and support families and children to affect positive change. You will act as an advocate for the children and families you work with, recognising and understanding many different viewpoints. You will have the confidence to make difficult decisions in the face of opposition, while maintaining an open mind about unfolding events. You will demonstrate the ability to negotiate, influence and inspire others in a respectful and humble manner to reach a positive outcome.

Participants’ stories

For those of us who have never experienced social work first hand, it can be difficult to imagine what a social worker does. Read our participants’ stories to find out more about the role and learn about the difference you could make on the Frontline programme.

  • Jill Sinaguglia had some time to reflect on her career during the pandemic, and decided to apply for the Frontline programme. She shares her reasons for pursuing social work, and her positive experience of the Frontline programme so far.
  • "The Frontline programme appealed to me as I was very attracted by the idea of practice learning. I was keen to work directly with children and families as soon as possible. I was also really interested by the unit model, and the concept of sharing ideas and hypotheses within a small, close-knit team."
  • Two Frontline programme participants, Sally and Jacob, worked hard alongside parents-to-be, Lacey and Lee, to ensure that baby Logan would be able to remain safely in the parents’ care once born, but with intensive support from professionals.
  • Tommy Gale talks about his journey to becoming a social worker and the Frontline programme.

Application process

Applications for 2023 will open in September


Social workers should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. We are committed to increasing the diversity of our Frontline programme cohorts and supporting applicants with disabilities.

We are committed to selecting people who have the potential to complete our intensive two-year programme and be successful in social work and beyond.
In order to apply for the programme you will need to meet our eligibility requirements.
Take a look at our programme policies to learn more about how the programme works.

Register your interest to receive news and updates about the Frontline programme

Frontline pilot: independent evaluation

An independent evaluation of the Frontline pilot programme was conducted by Cardiff University and published in March 2016. The evaluation compared the practice skills of Frontline programme participants with those qualifying into social work through other routes. It found that Frontline participants were rated higher than students on mainstream programmes on every one of the ten assessment criteria.

Read the report here.


Have you got a question about the Frontline programme?

Career events

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