Donald Forrester, the Academic Director on the Frontline programme, has compared setting up Frontline to a rocket launch. An enormous amount of fuel is spent getting the rocket off the ground with all the rumbles, emotions and exhaustion that come with it. That’s certainly how the first exhilarating year of running Frontline felt and we’re now safely in orbit.
2014 was a year of many firsts but perhaps the biggest was the start of the programme with the Summer Institute. Our first cohort saw over 100 committed and impressive participants come together to begin their journey of becoming social workers. These individuals are now working across 20 local authorities with the support of experienced social workers (our Consultant Social Worker network), personal tutors and Specialists. All of this is possible because of the support of our partners who continue to support our mission generously. Everyone involved in making Frontline a reality has been bolstered by the quality of our first cohort.
After the much needed festive break, the Frontline team are now back in action for the year ahead. We’re approaching the end of our recruitment season for the 2015 cohort who’ll be starting this summer. We’ve been stunned by the continued interest of applicants and the quality of people who’ve come through to our assessment centres. This is affirmation, if it was needed, that graduates are yearning for opportunities to develop themselves and make a more meaningful contribution through their career. Our entry into the Times Top 100 list of graduate employers only emphasises the appeal of social work to many high-achievers.
Following discussions with city regions across England, we’ll be announcing the third region that we’ll expanding into in 2016. This gives us an exciting opportunity to work with more partners to have a bigger impact in transforming life chances for vulnerable children and their families. There is also work to further build the two year programme with our Masters course and the second year of the leadership programme set to be designed and rolled out from this summer. We will also get plans in place for our first cohort completing the programme in 2016 with an alumni network that helps them maximise their impact.
It’s also going to be an exciting year for wider social work reform. Whilst there is an election, any change of government should see continued backing for Frontline and for wider changes that are taking place. The Chief Social Worker’s new range of standards are being developed to raise the bar and there are exciting initiatives launching through the government’s Innovation Programme. Meanwhile, many local authorities are setting off on a journey to shift social work from process management to change work with families.
For Frontline, whilst we’ve done the hard work of launching, spinning in orbit comes with its own challenges. Keeping oriented and conserving energy become increasingly important. Our third year is an opportunity to grow our impact with more participants starting the programme, expansion into a new region and by keeping totally focussed on our mission.