As a practice tutor on the Frontline programme you guide participants on their two-year journey to becoming excellent social workers. You meet them at the start of the programme, you support them through the summer institute, through joining their local authority, through their ASYE and dissertation, watching them learn and develop all the time, and guiding them through that process. That’s my favourite part of the job. I still get emotional when participants get to the end of year 1, when they qualify, seeing how far they have come and knowing how much they will continue to grow.
That’s because the practice tutor role is all about building really strong relationships; it should feel very natural for anyone coming straight from direct practice. You have to be person-centred, in-tune with each participant’s development needs, and committed to developing excellent social workers. Just like social work, there’s room for you to develop your own individual style, although everything is underpinned by Frontline’s really strong values base and commitment to anti-oppressive, anti-discriminatory practice.
The theories and models we teach on the Frontline programme really empower the participants to see families through a different lens, supporting them to build trusting relationships with families, think outside the box and test out multiple hypotheses. You see participants thinking differently and supporting families to create real change in challenging circumstances, but also recognising that change isn’t possible in every case.
Supporting participants to put these theories into practice means you have a huge impact on children and families in this role. Working closely with both the participants and their consultant social worker (who is their practice educator), you directly influence their work with children and families: you’re as close to practice as you can be without holding your own caseload. Through joining unit meetings and marking academic work and direct observations, you really get to know the families the participants work with. I don’t miss frontline social work, because I’m so close to it!
I love my job, I think it’s the best job in the world. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be teaching my fifth annual cohort of the Frontline programme. It helps that everyone at Frontline is so supportive and committed to creating change for children who don’t have a safe or stable home. Not just my close-knit regional team, but everyone across the wider charity. As an employee, you feel supported, valued, respected and genuinely listened to.
Take our response to COVID-19: collectively as an organisation, everyone pulled together, moving elements of our programmes online to keep participants and colleagues safe. It just goes to show how invested we are in each other, our participants and the children and families we support.
If you’re thinking of applying to the role, but you haven’t done any academic work for some time, don’t be daunted. I thought it might be a challenge, but you receive as much or as little support as you need and you are gradually eased into things. We’ve got loads of practice tutors who came straight from direct practice and no one ever has any issues we all help and support each other.
If you’re looking for that next step in your career, but want to continue doing people-focused work with a direct and tangible impact on children and families, this is the role for you. If you love social work, you will love this role.