Government to create practice leaders to oversee social work in councils

Education secretary Nicky Morgan also confirms the introduction of new social worker standards and announces more money for Frontline

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan (Photo: David Hartley/REX)

Education secretary Nicky Morgan today announced the creation of ‘social work practice leaders’ who will be tasked with overseeing frontline practice in local authorities.

Speaking to delegates at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester, she described the role as “a senior leadership position focused 100% on the quality of frontline practice in a local area”.

She said social work practice leaders “will complement the corporate leadership role of the director of children’s services, allowing a wider pool of leadership talent to be considered for those roles while the rigorous focus on social work practice sits with the new practice leader”.

“It is imperative that front line workers are managed and supervised by those with the knowledge and skills needed to shape that practice excellence,” she added.

Morgan also used her speech to announce the introduction of Approved Child and Family Practitioner status as an essential requirement for working in child protection. The status was recommended by chief social worker Isabelle Trowler in her knowledge and skills statement, which was published back in July.

The education secretary also revealed that the government is extending the funding for the fast-track social work training scheme Frontline into 2016.

“There have already been 1,000 applicants for the second round of Frontline, which has a third more places available than last year,” she said. “And we’re anticipating this level of interest to continue, so here, today, I’m delighted to announce that the government is supporting another year of the Frontline pilot.”

Josh MacAlister, chief executive of Frontline, said the decision is a significant moment for Frontline: “The commitment shown by government means we can continue in our mission to transform the lives of vulnerable children who need outstanding social workers.”

The funding extension was also welcomed by Rory Patterson, director of children’s services in Southwark: “As a partner local authority, we welcome the news that the government is extending its support for Frontline. We have been impressed with the quality of recruits and the potential they offer our service.”

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5 Responses to Government to create practice leaders to oversee social work in councils

  1. Jason Byrne October 31, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    Excellent news to hear the continued support for Frontline SW training and the focus on improving social work practice. I am worried though that social workers with a long standing work and personal experience in the field may not be getting the recognition for the work they have and continue to do.
    Let’s not confuse academic excellence with emotional and experiential intelligence which comes with life experiences. The ability to empathise, relate and understand service users including children s experiences comes not from academic achievement alone but an integration of intellectual, emotional and our own struggles in life.

  2. Terry November 4, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

    A deeply flawed and neo-conservative agenda is being promoted here . The notion of ‘leadership’ and the creation of a Social Work ‘officer class’ is being given almost religious status when for the Social Workers actually working with the families facing constant cuts to services and increasing poverty the simple reality is one of massive overwork and resource cuts to preventative and protective services in both children s and adult services . Social Work in the UK has existed as a public service for the public good throughout the last century these initiatives such as Frontline with its business backers are intended to transform public service into private corporations. Progressive Social Workers looking for an alternative have the opportunity of joining with the Social Work Action Networks initiatives but we need to be clear that for the first time the radical right are looking to reshape Social Work in their own image.

  3. David Conway November 6, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    Window dressing!! No point making any comment. Gap in ability for Social Workers to work with people in distress is no longer possible. A good Social work is one who can complete mountains of pointless paper work, but never mind quality of relationships? no time?

    • M Ibrahem November 9, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      I couldn’t agree more, the creation of this new role is such an stupid idea, the same old folks will just have different job titles that’s all. What would make an excellent social worker? Is his/her ability to fill out manual and electronic forms.

  4. Barry November 7, 2014 at 2:38 am #

    I tend to agree with the post made by Terry on 04/11. To be candid, without the political dimension presented by initiatives like Frontline, the people training via Frontline could still train to be social workers. The difference however would be that there would not be the financial incentives. I would argue that the chances of somebody who entered the profession – with its historic high stress levels, poor pay and regular demonisation by the popular press, politicians and an ill informed but sizeable portion of the public – as a consequence of an incentive is very unlikely to remain within the profession when exposed to the realities of practice medium to long term. Of course time will demonstrate in the long term the success of Frontine. I for one watch with interest but also a degree of trepidation.