Summer institute

The Frontline programme begins in mid-July with the summer institute. It’s the first opportunity for participants to meet their whole cohort and start their learning journey together.

The summer institute normally runs for five weeks residentially. In 2020 we delivered the summer institute online due to Covid-19 and this will continue to be the case for 2021. For applicants who have been made an offer for the programme this year the latest update about summer institute 2021 can be found on Frontline Connect.

Curriculum overview

During this intensive five-week period, leading academics from social work and related fields will teach you the knowledge and skills of good social work. As part of the curriculum we will introduce you to: 

  • Key concepts and foundational knowledge in social work. This includes the place of values and ethics in the profession, social justice, human and family development, trauma and the construction of help and protection. 
  • Evidence-based approaches and methods for supporting change in families featuring systemic approaches to social work practice, motivational interviewing and parenting interventions. 
  • The importance of reflexivity in the development of practice skills. 
  • Skills-based work in which you apply your developing knowledge and techniques using case studies and role plays. 
  • The legislative framework of children’s social care. 
  • Social work as a leadership profession. 

Ultimately, you will begin to learn how to bring about positive change in people’s behaviour. The summer institute is an immersive learning experience and the curriculum is delivered in varied and innovative ways. These include traditional lectures, action learning and role plays, as well as interactive sessions with prominent guest speakers, practising social workers and people with experience of care. 

After completing the summer institute, your practice tutor and consultant social worker will formally assess you to ensure that you are ready to start your practice learning experience in a local authority. 


Summer institute: week by week example


Each week we will introduce you to different themes and topics. An example of what this could look like is below:

Week one: The importance of context and self-awareness in navigating the tensions inherent in social work – balancing the protection and control functions of the state alongside the lived experiences of children and families.

Week two: Social work as a relational and socially constructed profession. An introduction to development across the life span, including the family life cycle, parenting, and the pathways and effects of relational trauma, abuse and neglect on children.

Week three: Making sense of risk, resilience and uncertainty – practice focus on domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Week four: Making connections and talking with families – practice focus on mental health and adults.

Week five: Helping children: integrating skills and practice – practice focus on children, learning disability, neglect and substance misuse.

Summer institute: logistics
  • Dates for the 2021 summer institute are 19 July to 20 August.
  • Participants will be learning from home for the five weeks.
  • You are required to attend every day of teaching. Absences will only be approved in very exceptional circumstances. All absences must be recorded and all requests must pass through the programme management team.  
  • We hold extracurricular activities, such as regional dinners, for you to get to know others in your region, and Q&A sessions with Frontline’s chief executive, Mary Jackson.
  • We hold wellbeing activities, such a mindfulness sessions and rounders, to help you unwind after intense days of teaching.
  • Relevant support and reasonable adjustments will be provided for those with a disability, long-term health condition of specific learning difficulty.

The teaching at the summer institute was second to none. The fact that so many prominent voices in the social work discourse were visible and present really gave me confidence in the Frontline programme.
Jordan, 2015 Cohort