Frontline receives £1.8m grant to develop scheme for first line managers

The money from the Department for Education innovation fund will be used to design a leadership development programme

Children's minister Edward Timpson meets Frontline participants Photo: Frontline

Social work graduate scheme Frontline has been granted £1.8m from the Department for Education (DfE)’s innovation fund to develop a training scheme for first line managers.

‘Leadership development’

The controversial programme fast tracks graduates into social work practice after five weeks’ classroom-based training.

Frontline will use the DfE grant over the next 18 months to design a leadership development programme called Firstline for social work managers.

The programme will aim to teach managers how to observe and give feedback on practice.

Mary Jackson, head of project support at Morning Lane Associates, has been appointed director of Firstline. Morning Lane Associates is a social work consultancy originally set up by chief social worker Isabelle Trowler and her partner Steve Goodman after they developed the successful “Hackney model” of social work.

‘Supporting managers’

Jackson said: “Developing the leadership skills of first-line practice managers is crucial to ensuring frontline social workers are equipped with the tools and support to enable them to transform the lives of vulnerable children and families.

“I look forward to leading the Firstline prototype to explore how to better support social work managers and benefit the profession.”

Writing in The Guardian, children’s minister Edward Timpson said the prototype scheme would be trialled with 40 managers from existing Frontline councils.

He said the aim was to make the diagnostic tools, curriculum and other materials the programme  generated widely available to lift standards right across the social work profession.

More from Community Care

4 Responses to Frontline receives £1.8m grant to develop scheme for first line managers

  1. Richard A Leighton January 31, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    How does a further £1.8m funding for ‘Frontline’ benefit the profession, as a whole? Local universities already offer post-qualifying routes into management, this cynical move from ‘Frontline’, undermining the established delivery of managerial training, limiting to only those LAs that have supported the ‘Frontline’ project (for that is what it is, a project), is divisive, to the profession as a whole. Already, hard-pressed, front line child protection practitioners are being driven to question their competence, as this government ‘pushes’ the ‘Frontline’ model. With the imminent delivery of ‘Think Ahead’ for mental health colleagues and, no doubt a ‘fast-track’ adults’ programme a short distance down the road, are our colleagues in those sectors to feel the same uncertainty as this behemoth continues to gather momentum, with unprecedented finance being diverted established and evaluated programmes investing in the improvement of quality and access to post-qualifying learning.

    The progress of this ever expanding snowball need to be halted. The ‘fast-track’ ‘Frontline’ project remains untried and untested in real world situations. The first trainees are still only six months into their postgraduate degree programme. Surely, we deserve to know the quality of the project before we commit more money to McAllister’s, Timpson’s & Forrester’s vanity project! Before government commits any more funding, our profession should hold DfE to book to produce output results and proof of ‘value for money’. These are the same parameters any programme provider will be required to submit, by public financiers, before additional funds are committed.

    No one has graduated from ‘Frontline’, there has been no independent verification of this model but we are bombarded with ‘good news’ stories in the media from seeming acolytes of ‘Frontline’ but there IS NO substance to ANY claims of success.

    Social work has been ‘in transition’ for many years, especially the children’s workforce, where ‘Frontline’ is trageted. The many competing demands of service users, policy makers, financiers and the practitioners cry out for improvement and stability. A period of consolidation, review, reevaluation and measured froward movement is essential to develop and deliver planned improvements to the services offered to society’s most vulnerable. It is these, the vulnerable, that MUST remain our focus, not ploughing money, that can be better used to improve support to them, than growing a project that no ones works.

  2. Concerned of HE February 2, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    This is a joke right? So this scheme isn’t even national? Its being delivered by Frontline who have no expertise in leadsership and management – and of course Morning Lane gets in there. Shameless.

  3. Sandy beach February 3, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

    hilarious, if it wasn’t so awful that is, so 1.8 million to ‘develop’ this leadership course?

    Are the ones (designed for SW and run through the UNI’s already no good?
    Or the ones by the institute of management etc, that often have a duel NVQ 4-5 & HE certification, no good either?

    Strange, all the places we need money in SW & we have this chosen by the government, finger on the pulse or what?

    Would of been nice to wait for the evidence first hey.

  4. Philip Measures February 4, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    I am furious and it is about time that the spineless Trades Unions and Professional Associations mounted an active Campaign against this Scheme which devalues everything associated with experience and expertise.

    Richard Leighton (comment above) makes absolutely valid points. I just see it as further deliberate Government intervention to demean and degrade social work and turn it into a Government-controlled Agency to even more effectively oppress the most vulnerable in Society.

    I don’t want to be ageist but you can not buy experience – and Mr Timpson in the picture just seems surrounded by 6th Formers!