PARTNER WITH US
Our local authority partnerships are a central part of ensuring we deliver a strong and effective programme for participants across both the Frontline and Firstline programmes.
Working closely with local authorities, we are attracting more outstanding people into children’s social work, and delivering high quality training and education for both qualifying and experienced practitioners. In doing so, we can provide the best support for children and families in need of social workers.
Benefits of partnering with us
Expand and develop the skills of your staff
Receive new social workers with high potential
- Rigorous selection process – Frontline participants have a 2:1 degree and undergo a rigorous recruitment and selection process to ensure that they possess the key skills required for children’s social work.
- High quality training – Frontline participants receive first-class academic and practical training which is grounded in recent, evidence-based and innovative approaches to child protection social work.
Highly skilled newly qualified social workers
- Ready for practice – After 12 months working in child protection services in your local authority, participants will be newly qualified staff (four per unit), trained in evidence-based practice models, and ready for the challenges of child protection social work.
- Cardiff Evaluation – An independent evaluation of the Frontline programme by Cardiff University found evidence of the impressive practice skill of Frontline participants, and recognised their ability to develop strong collaborative relationships. Read the report.
Develop and retain existing staff
- Consultant social workers – Each unit of four trainee social workers is led by a consultant social worker (CSW). This role gives your strongest practitioners the chance to remain in a practice-based role, while giving them the opportunity to lead and manage a unit. All CSWs are offered a 20 days CSW development training programme, and have the opportunity to work towards professional qualifications, including the Practice Educator Professional Standards at stage two, and Postgraduate Certificate in Systemic Practice.
- Social work managers – The Firstline programme develops good social work managers into high performing, considered and influential leaders. Strengthening the leadership of this important group has a profound effect on the practice systems within which they work, improving the quality of social work supervision and the management of social workers.
- Centre for Child and Family Research (CCfR, Loughborough University) – An evaluation of the Firstline programme found it had significant impact on social work leadership. Those undertaking the programme gave overwhelmingly positive feedback. Their teams also reported improvements in a number of key areas such as their ability to learn and develop others, hold people to account and exercise resilience and self-relexivity. There are also tangible links to retention of managers; a number who completed the programme, and had been planning to leave their posts, decided to stay, while others had secured or were considering applying for more senior positions. Read the report.
Become part of our network
- Regional model – We work closely with our local authority partners, so you will benefit by being part of a wider network across each of our regions.
- Share best practice – We have developed a range of regional-based research and practice forums, providing opportunities for practitioners across your organisation to come together to share learning and good practice.
- Be recognised as a pioneer – The Frontline and Firstline programmes are the first of their kind, and have received cross-party support. The charity and a number of local authorities we work with have received positive press coverage and recognition for our work, and we need local authority partners to join us so we can continue to contribute to raising the profile and further developing the social work system. Read our latest news.
- Support – Our dedicated leadership and regional teams support all aspects of setting up and delivering programmes in your local authority.
- Strong and effective partnership working – We place great emphasis on local authority partnerships, with a strong focus on sharing learning informed by our cross programme insights, alongside a clear understanding of sector and regional developments in social work and local government.
About our programmes
The Frontline programme takes a unique approach to social work training. It combines the teaching of world-renowned academics from leading social work institutions with high-quality practice learning and a clear focus on leadership.
Year 1: Practice learning experience in participant units
After an intensive five-week Summer Institute – and having passed their Readiness for Practice assessment – participants are placed in units of four in a social care service responsible for children in need and child protection work. This practice learning unit is led by a consultant social worker (CSW). In the unit model, the CSW is the named social worker for all the cases worked by the unit. They work alongside the participants: training, supervising and assessing them, and gradually sharing work with each participant, giving them increasing autonomy as the year progresses.
Throughout the year, participants attend recall days. Here they receive additional teaching on the Frontline practice models: motivational interviewing, parenting interventions and systemic practice. In addition to their work in children’s social work, each participant will undertake a short, adult-focussed, contrasting learning experience, specialising in either domestic violence, learning difficulties, mental health or substance misuse.
At the end of the year, Frontline participants will gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work that allows them to register as a qualified social worker with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC).
The participant unit model has been influenced by the success of Reclaiming Social Work – an approach endorsed by Eileen Munro’s review of Children’s Services in 2011.
Year 2 – Assessed and Supported Year in Employment
In their second year, Frontline participants become employees of the same local authority in which they trained. In this Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE), they join one of the local authority social work teams as a practice-ready newly qualified social worker. During this year, the participants receive further teaching from the Frontline team and undertake a Masters Degree in Social Work, accredited by the University of Bedfordshire.
Frontline is distinct from traditional social work courses due to its unit model practice learning experience which is supported by hands-on involvement from practice tutors. Tutors regularly visit units to ensure that participants are applying the evidence-based practice models that they learnt at the Summer Institute and recall days. Through regular observation and grading of practice, tutors ensure that participants are bringing about positive change for the families with which they are working.
Frontline puts leadership at the heart of its mission. Through our bespoke leadership programme, participants gain the skills and confidence to set out a vision with a family and convince a range of professionals to put this into practice. These leadership qualities also benefit the participants as they work within local authorities and wider organisations.
Firstline is a leadership development programme that develops good social work managers into high performing, considered and influential leaders. The programme is designed specifically for those managing social workers who work with children and families.
Our curriculum provides those on the programme (Firstline leaders) with the tools, reflective techniques and confidence to develop their leadership skills so they can better enable great social work practice. Managers on the programme are strongly encouraged to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones in areas such as reflexivity, decision-making and influencing others. Drawing on insights from adult learning the programme is designed to be adaptable to individual need, whilst predicated on some core threads and systemic principles. This makes it an excellent complement to other workforce development offers. This flexibility also enables Firstline leaders to apply and contextualise their learning within their role and local authority’s culture.
The impact of the programme is wide reaching and is evident throughout practice and supervision. A recent evaluation of the programme found evidence of improved professional practice being applied to methods for supervision, and the leadership of team meetings to encourage case discussion and influence change in local authorities among participants. Read the evaluation or see here for more information about the impact of the programme.
Funding and cost
Firstline is largely funded by the Department for Education’s Innovation Programme, though there is a small cost to partner authorities for each leader (minimum of four) invited to join the programme. Firstline is tailored to strong managers who spend most of their time supervising social workers and those invited will undertake a series of activities to determine whether the programme best suits their needs.
Working with local authorities
The Frontline programme provides participants with high quality and relevant learning experiences to ensure they are equipped with the necessary skills required to work with complex child protection cases upon qualification.
We partner with local authorities, which host Frontline participants as trainee social workers in units for a year and then employ them as newly-qualified social workers for at least a year.
Currently we work with a wide range of local authorities across the North East, North West, Midlands, London, the South East and East of England. We continue to grow the programme each year, and by 2020 we will be working with around 70 local authorities across all regions of England. See our regional pages for more information on our local authority partners.
Firstline is a leadership development programme that develops good social work managers into high performing, considered and influential leaders.
We have worked with a range of local authorities across the country to deliver the programme in a range of regions including the North West, North East and Yorkshire, London, South East as well as the Midlands and East Anglia.
Firstline works with a number of local authorities across England including municipal and shire, urban and rural, and large and small authorities, We work closely with local authorities in tried and tested ways to ensure the programme has maximum impact within the authority, and therefore with children and families.
How to partner with us
At present, Frontline operates in set regions and only partners with local authorities in those regions. The decision to partner is based on need and the capacity of the local authority to provide high quality placements for participants.
While the Frontline practice model is a unit model approach with a focus on systemic practice we work with local authorities that have a wide range of practice models. Our local authority partners also continue to work closely alongside other social work training routes and universities.
If you are interested in partnering with Frontline, the first step would be to set up an initial conversation with either our Programme Director of relevant Head of Region. If, following initial discussions, you are still interested in working with us, an initial partnership meeting would be arranged.
This would involve your children’s social care staff completing a survey and Frontline staff visiting your local authority, where we would meet your senior team, relevant team managers, potential consultant social worker candidates and ASYE social workers. The day gives us the opportunity to explore partnership with you in more detail, and make a decision about joining the partnership.
If you are interested in exploring the possibility of partnering with Frontline please contact the designated Head of Region for your area, or the Programme Director, for an initial conversation, or contact us here. This will give you an opportunity to hear more about the Frontline model and decide if you are interested in joining us.
We know that for Firstline Leaders to fully engage with the programme, they need:
1. To understand it fully – so we provide a comprehensive briefing for managers within your local authority.
2. Their senior management team and wider organisation are invested in the programme – so we work closely alongside senior managers, who are involved from the outset – initially with an onsite meeting at your convenience.
3. They need to be at the right place in their careers to get the best from the programme – to address this we work in partnership to support you to identify the best suited manager. You then you play a key role in helping us to select the cohort from your local authority.
4. They are encouraged to use their learning (approaches and ideas) to contribute to the development of your social work system – the programme is designed to support local authorities to enable this.
We work with local authorities across England and the group will continue to expand as further authorities join us. If you would like to hear more about Firstline, we strongly encourage you to contact senior leaders within these organisations, so they can describe their experience of the programme and of partnering with Firstline.