Frontline Programme

A two-year leadership development programme for outstanding graduates and career changers

Your Frontline journey

Across the country, there are many children and families facing challenges that often seem too great to overcome. Outstanding social workers have the power to transform their life chances.

During our intensive two-year programme, you will develop the skills needed to support the most vulnerable in society.

The summer institute

Five weeks of intensive residential training at the University of Warwick will build the foundations of the knowledge and skills required for your local authority placement.

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 to gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work by the end of your first year.

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.


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

Why social work?

In England alone, half a million children don’t have a safe or stable home. Great social work can change this.

As a social worker, you’ll support children, young people and their families when they are going through difficult times. You’ll work directly with the most vulnerable in society, alongside other professionals, 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, as well as resilience.




We all rely on others for help and support sometimes. For the most vulnerable, receiving this support can make a significant difference to the direction their lives take. As a social worker on the Frontline programme, that difference could be you.



You will earn while you study for a fully funded postgraduate diploma and master’s degree.

In year 1 you will receive a tax and NI exempt bursary of £18,000 or £20,000 in London. This is equivalent to a salary of £21,000 or £24,000.

As a newly qualified social worker in year 2, you will earn a salary between £25k and £34k depending on local authority and location.



In the first year 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.



You will qualify as a social worker after your first year and register with the regulator Social Work England.



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 vulnerable children and families.



As part of the Fellowship, you will be connected to and supported by like-minded individuals across the country. Fellows come together to share their knowledge, hone their leadership styles, develop innovative projects for the benefit of vulnerable children and families and much more.


We are looking for committed individuals to join the Frontline programme. 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. For more information, click here.


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 participant’s stories to find out more about the role and learn about the difference you could make on the Frontline programme.

  • Frontline fellow, Rahim
    You never know what aspect of yourself families will respond to. Diversity gives us the opportunity to learn more about people and to share this understanding with our colleagues.
  • Frontline fellow, Josh
    When I started the Frontline programme, I had no idea how varied the job of a field social worker was and how many different ‘hats’ social workers need to wear.
  • Frontline fellow, Anton
    I’m proud of being a social worker and I talk about my job a lot. It’s a fascinating role and people are often surprised by what I do on a day to day basis.
  • Sometimes social work is about hard-fought but small successes, which although small can be really rewarding when they represent a shift in a family’s thinking or behaviour.

Application process


Applications to join the Frontline programme as part of the 2020 Cohort are now open.

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 brochure and recruitment policy if you’re looking for a summary of everything you need to know.


Got a question about the Frontline programme?

We run a variety of events throughout the year across the UK and on campuses. Most of our events are for those interested in applying to the Frontline programme
Check out Frontline’s latest news and blogs, and see where we’ve been featured in the press.