Year 1

In the first year of the Frontline programme, you’ll work on real life cases in small groups, supported and led by your consultant social worker. You’ll spend over 200 days on practice-based learning and attend 21 taught study days as you start working towards your master’s.

Year 1 overview

During your first year, you will spend 176 days working within a small supportive team called a unit, in your assigned local authority. Year 1 also includes your contrasting learning experience: 30 days in an adult social care setting. You will be supported by an experienced consultant social worker and your practice tutor. You will also attend lectures, workshops and in-unit teaching as part of your studies towards an MSc in Advanced Relationship-Based Social Work Practice with Children and Families. Having successfully passed year 1, you will be required to apply to register with England’s social work regulator, Social Work England.


Curriculum content


Frontline programme practice model

The Frontline programme enables aspiring social workers to learn through practice-based experience. We emphasise the importance of teaching a curriculum that integrates both theoretical learning and application in practice. This allows participants to effectively develop and consolidate their learning.

You will learn the Frontline programme practice model and will need to demonstrate capability in evidence-informed ways of working. This includes: motivational interviewing, systemic practice, and parenting interventions, based on the principles of social learning theory, attachment, trauma and mentalisation. The programme addresses other essential topics in social work including relevant legislation and social policy; ethics and values; assessment of risk and need; and working with vulnerable groups.

The Frontline programme is a professional programme. The curriculum is mapped against social work’s Professional Capabilities Framework, Social Work England’s professional standards and education and training standards, and the knowledge and skills statements for both children and adults.

Frontline designs and delivers the academic content, whilst Lancaster University is the awarding body for the qualification. As a participant of the Frontline programme you will be a registered student of Lancaster University.



All modules are compulsory.


Developing social work skills for professional practice (30 credits)

This module explores what knowledge, skills and values social workers need. The module prepares you for practice in accordance with the Professional Capabilities Framework and ensures that you have the foundational knowledge and understanding of social work outlined in Social Work England’s professional standards. It focuses on skills for direct practice in social work and in preparing you for “readiness for practice”. This module explores the nature of contemporary social work and the three evidence-informed ways of working with families: systemic practice, motivational interviewing and parenting interventions, based on ideas of attachment, mentalisation, trauma and social learning theory.

Knowledge, theory and values for social work practice (30 credits)

This module’s focus is on areas of social work that provide key foundational knowledge for the discipline. The module explores social theories, social policy, poverty and social exclusion, discrimination, oppression and social context for social work. The module also looks at social work law, conceptions of ethical practice, social justice and values in social work. This module therefore presents and enables you to learn essential legal, ethical, social policy and sociological themes in the context of social work practice with children, families, individuals, groups, communities and cultures. You will learn about the centrality of anti-oppressive practice and anti-discriminatory practice within the sphere of social work and the helping professions, including working with difference and diversity. The module also addresses ideas of human growth and development, with a particular focus on child development to aid assessment of risk and need.

Advanced skills in child and family social work (60 credits)

This module explores systemic social work practice, from a theoretical and practical perspective, including systemic formulations and interventions, the therapeutic relationship, engagement, narrative approaches, and consideration of risk using ideas of safe and unsafe uncertainty.

Furthermore, the module critically examines the practice of risk assessment with adults and children and looks at the importance of listening to the voice of the child and privileging conversations and interventions that are age appropriate. You will investigate working with trauma, such as abuse, family violence and sexual exploitation. You will examine parenting interventions using the tenets of social learning theory, attachment, trauma and mentalisation. You will also be supported to develop advanced skills in critical reflection, and the development of emotional resilience for safe and ethical professional practice. A central thread running through the module is the importance of working with difference in empowering and effective ways.

For this module, you are required to demonstrate your understanding of excellent social work practice with children and their families. You will show this both in academic work and by demonstrating practice of an excellent standard for qualifying social workers. You must demonstrate a high level of ability to integrate knowledge, skills and values into your practice of social work in the complex area of child and family social work. You must also demonstrate how these skills can also be used in work with adults.



The curriculum is delivered through a combination of lectures and workshops. These take place in two different settings:

  • at 21 regional teaching days, called recall days. These are delivered through a blend of in-person and online teaching, and e-learning.
  • at 14 in-unit teaching sessions, focusing on group work and small group learning. They are delivered through a combination of teaching in your local authority and online.

Teaching is led by a range of lecturers and facilitators, including practice tutors, expert guest speakers, curriculum leads, experts by experience and consultant social workers. Interactive lectures and workshops will address the core concepts of the curriculum and will be supplemented with directed reading of key texts. In-unit teaching, led by practice tutors, will examine and explore themes and concepts introduced in lectures and workshops, as well as your own practice experiences. You will practice and develop self-directed learning along with skills in analysis, oral and written presentation, debate and group work, through interactive tasks and activities.

Throughout your practice learning experience and contrasting learning experience, you will constantly learn from and receive supervision from your consultant social worker. They act as your practice educator, an experienced social worker who supports you to learn in the workplace.



Throughout Year 1, you will be assessed holistically through your academic work and practice. Our methods of assessment range from more conventional academic writing through to reflective assessments on current practice, recorded evidence of practice and extensive direct observation of practice. Each method focuses on your application of learning to practice and the integration of learning from across the curriculum. You will undergo both formative and summative assessments, including essays, presentations, in-class tests and group work. You will also be assessed in your practice learning experience by your consultant social worker, as your practice educator.