A group of social work academics has issued a joint statement criticising the evaluation of Frontline, the fast-track social work training scheme.
The joint statement by the Association of Professors of Social Work (APSW) and the Joint University Council Social Work Education Committee (JUCSWEC) was made in response to the evaluation of Frontline, commissioned by the Department for Education.
The academics said the evaluation, which will be carried out by CASCADE: the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre, shows a “worrying lack of clarity”.
The committee said responses from its members raised the question of whether a comparative study is “possible or, indeed, ethical,” since Frontline was established based on the belief that “current social workers are not good enough,” the response said, describing this view as “extraordinary” and “unfair”.
The academics stated that the evaluation doesn’t say what the “perceived inadequacies in social work practice are that Frontline seeks to address”.
A spokesman from Frontline said: “Given the innovative nature of the Frontline programme we are enthusiastic participants in the independent evaluation.
“It’s disappointing that a group of academics are refusing to engage in an evaluation that would allow for collective learning. Furthermore, seeking to influence an evaluation in this way is inappropriate.”
A senior social work academic who wished to remain anonymous said he wanted to make it clear the views of the social work education bodies do not necessarily represent the views of all social work academics.
He spoke out in support of the Frontline programme, saying that some critics were so fixed in their views of the programme that, no matter what Frontline did, he didn’t think they “could do anything to assuage some academics’ concerns.”