Frontline remains a two-year programme which requires participants to stay in their host local authority for the duration. If personal circumstances prevent someone from completing the academic component (60 credits) of year two, we will continue to support them to be outstanding social workers and provide access to the Frontline Fellowship. This applies to all future cohorts and we expect that, as was the case when it was not compulsory in previous years, 90% will complete the taught component of the second year.
We always consider extenuating circumstances when participants are having difficulties meeting the commitments of the programme. Financial penalties have never been placed on an individual with extenuating circumstances. However, as we are using public funds, we have a duty to taxpayers to ensure that if individuals exit the programme early without extenuating circumstances, we are able to seek reimbursement of these funds.
93% of the first four cohorts (2014 – 17) have successfully completed their qualifying year. Our impact report, published September 2018, shows that 87% of those that complete the programme remain in children’s social work six months later. We will be publishing further information on attrition in the near future.
Frontline is working with 48% of children’s services in England, in which there is significant variation. By its very nature, social work is a challenging profession, and the Frontline programme is itself rigorous, combining academic study with direct work with children and families in a local authority. To support our participants as they start out in this tough but rewarding career, we offer high levels of professional support throughout the two-year programme, including highly experienced practice tutors and qualified coaches.
However, we understand that completing the academic component of year two is not always achievable for every participant. Having listened to feedback, we have reverted back to our previous policy.
Our focus is on supporting vulnerable children and families that need the very best social workers, and we will continue to do so.