How to get the most out of the online summer institute

13th July 2020

For Frontline participants, the path to becoming a social worker begins with the summer institute. These five weeks of intense learning, discussions, and reflection lays the foundations and skills with which they will help bring about social change for children and families. They will then hone and develop these skills over the next two years, and ultimately throughout the rest of their career. We hope they’re as excited to start their journey as we are to be accompanying them on it.

Due to the pandemic, we are holding the summer institute virtually this year. We have dedicated a lot of time, energy and thought to how to make an online summer institute every bit as enjoyable and effective as previous years. Experts in pedagogy, delivery and digital learning have designed the pacing and format of our teaching to make sure it provides an engaging learning experience for participants, no matter their learning style. There will be lots of different content ranging from live lectures, group discussions and talks from experts by experience.

We know it can be a challenge to sit at a screen all day, so we’ve adapted our teaching to address this, ensuring there is a good rhythm to each day, with enough breaks for everyone to stay focused. There have even been some areas that we can be more tailored and less restricted – as we are not limited by physical space we can do some sessions in much smaller groups than usual. This, along with interactive elements of the sessions, will allow everyone to get actively involved in a way that is not always possible in a lecture theatre or seminar.

Having a safe space to discuss and feel comfortable sharing is hugely important as the summer institute covers some difficult and emotive topics. In addition to discussion groups, we have provided a space dedicated to participants’ emotional wellbeing. The Pastoral Care Team will be on hand every day for participants to speak to about the topics they have covered and any reflections and emotions these may have brought up for them. Participants will also have access to the app Headspace free of charge, a participant wellbeing guide and cognitive behaviour therapy tools, so that participant wellbeing is always prioritised.

Participants don’t just gain knowledge and skills at the summer institute, they also start to build relationships with others in their unit, their region and their cohort. As they continue to develop and grow as social workers, both on the programme and beyond, these relationships will provide a network where they can share knowledge and ideas and reach out to for support. The summer institute brings together the entire cohort to build a sense of community and this should be no different remotely.

Another way participants can meet and connect is by joining affinity groups. Whether for mental health and wellbeing, diversity in social work, university graduates, career changers or many more subjects, there will be something for everyone. Along with frequent check-ins with their unit, these will provide participants with a close-knit support system, a space to be understood and help bring about change.

Our team have worked incredibly hard to make this year’s summer institute a fantastic experience for all our participants. If you are joining us this year, you will learn a lot, reflect on your own experiences and meet others who want to lead social change. Please come with openness, energy and enthusiasm and we look forward to welcoming you next week.


Five top tips for learning well at the online summer institute:


Create a dedicated learning space. Make sure it’s comfortable, free of distractions and ready to use each morning.

Utilise your breaks. Use the opportunity to step away from your learning space, move about, stretch or have a conversation.

Help others be mindful of your learning time. Let those you live with know your core learning hours so they can help you keep distractions to a minimum.

Connect with others. We’ve created lots of ways for you to build your community within Frontline, take advantage of these!

Remember, it’s OK to get frustrated. Learning online can bring its own complications and you may feel frustrated from time to time. We want you to know we’re here to support you, so please do get in touch and let us know how we can help.

2020 participants can find more information and advice through the Onboarding Module or in the wellbeing section on Moodle.