Frontline awarded £45 million to train 900 social workers

The fast-track training scheme has been given extra funding to award 450 social workers a year between 2020 and 2022

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The social work fast-track training provider Frontline has been awarded a contested contract to train 900 social workers, extending the organisation’s social work training relationship with the Department for Education by two years.

The £45 million contract – which was first advertised in April 2018 and will see two cohorts of 450 social workers trained between 2020 and 2022 – was subject to a war of words over the summer, as academics, the British Association of Social Workers and others questioned the need for the contract and demanded more evidence for fast-track training.

Frontline responded to the criticism, and argued it was value for money.

The contract – initially valued at up to £50 million – will keep the number of social workers trained by Frontline at 450 a year, a number that the scheme will reach for the first time in 2019.

Under the scheme, social workers attend a five-week summer school before doing a year placement in a local authority, before moving into their assessed and supported year in employment, at the end of which they qualify with a master’s degree in social work.

Frontline funding

Since Frontline launched in 2013, government funding for bursaries for placements on traditional routes has fallen, while the value and number of social work bursaries has been frozen for the past four years.

Announcing the news, education secretary Damian Hinds said: “Children’s social care is only as good as the people who deliver it, which is why we want to recruit, retain and develop the best social workers, so they can continue to offer the much needed lifeline to those who need it most.”

“That’s why the government is supporting Frontline with £45 million to continue their work in attracting and training bright graduates and career changers, who aspire for a rewarding career as a social worker.”

Sally Hodges, director of children’s services in Solihull, which hosts Frontline graduates on their placement year, said the trainees had been “invaluable addition[s] to our team”.

“We welcome today’s news and look forward to continuing our work together to deliver the best services for vulnerable children and their families.”

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26 Responses to Frontline awarded £45 million to train 900 social workers

  1. HumanRightsSocialworker January 8, 2019 at 11:51 am #

    How about investing that money INTO social care

    • Janet January 8, 2019 at 7:20 pm #

      Agree completely

    • Rosemary January 10, 2019 at 11:07 pm #

      I completely agree. Most front line students leave the profession after a few years as some lack the resilience of working in poor LA-s with complex cases and service user needs.

  2. Louise January 8, 2019 at 2:56 pm #

    How about investing money into attracting BACK social workers who left social workers , by offering short placements, refresher courses and then jobs . I know that this was available in the south but what about country wide.

  3. Janet January 8, 2019 at 7:05 pm #

    This is obscene. This is not value for money, as fast-tracking does not equal good quality. When is the Government going to get behind investing in this critical profession, rather than trying to ‘patch it’ with fast-track programmes. At some stage, this will be seen for the error it is, but by then, it will be a momentous task to correct it.

    • hayley thomas January 9, 2019 at 6:34 pm #

      100% agree. There is no way Frontline Students have enough theory based knowledge to underpin their practice in the time allocated for their ‘Training’ !

      • Robert January 9, 2019 at 11:24 pm #

        My experience of working in a LA with Frontline students and recent graduates of the programme is that their knowledge of theory and more importantly their ability to link theory to practice, as well as their range of intervention skills and ability to engage families is excellent and does not fall below, and in many cases exceeds, the competence of social workers trained on other routes. I agree the government should do more – but should we be so opposed to a route that provides fully funded training for prospective social workers?

        • BB January 10, 2019 at 4:50 pm #

          Not my experience – knowledge of theory can be poor. I have seen most of our sw who were on fast track programs go off sick after a year of practice (usually stress).

  4. Chris January 8, 2019 at 9:10 pm #

    Maybe my maths is wrong, but £50,000 per worker seems a lot when most of the time is on “placement”.

    • JJ January 10, 2019 at 10:01 pm #

      Absolutely right!

      45 million equates to around 5000 social work bursaries for students to go to university for three years learning a vast array such as human and child growth and development, social work law, theory the list goes on. I am sorry but three years in university cannot under any circumstances be put into a five week summer school.

      Frontline always state that the candidates do a years placement – well properly qualified social workers do three placements before qualifying; they then also do the assessed year in employment.

      The long and short of it is these people will be qualified to make serious and lifelong decisions regarding some children and young peoples lives – as well as that of the parents. Would you really want somebody making those decisions whom had only been trained for 5 weeks?

  5. Gary January 9, 2019 at 4:28 pm #

    It will not matter how many social workers their are when we should be addressing the need for more home care providers and more availability of residential care .

  6. julia January 9, 2019 at 6:07 pm #

    That money would be better spent being invested into current social work teams, relieving case loads and supporting direct work with children. Take care of retention, rather than promoting some sort of ideological pet.

  7. Teddyt January 9, 2019 at 6:07 pm #

    Spend it on improving social services and retaining social workers. The social workers they are training will leave the profession anyway due to poor working conditions and a lack of investment in services.

  8. Bubbky January 9, 2019 at 6:54 pm #

    I’ve applied twice and been rejected twice and I’m willing to work hard to become a long term social worker…amazing no one wants real people

  9. Joe January 9, 2019 at 7:34 pm #

    Maybe they should open it up to people who have worked in the sector and understand the challenges. Managers, deputy’s who have years of experience are snubbed because they don’t have a degree even tho they can do the job standing on their head

  10. Saffy January 10, 2019 at 3:41 pm #

    They should use that money and attract the old social workers who have left the profession who have the knowledge and experience which is invaluable . Provide refresher courses to qualified SW.Reduce caseloads by investing in social care

  11. Chrissie Martin January 10, 2019 at 4:45 pm #

    There are many excellent social work assistants who have done the job of an unpaid social worker for many years who cannot get funding from their LAs to train.

    Most of us spent three years including placements doing a Social Work Degree and these people are doing a 5 week summer school plustwo placements and obtain a Masters?

    One of my worries is that they’ll think they are high flyers and get into management positions before serving their time and without the knowledge or skills to supervise others.

    There is no substitute for experience when working with vulnerable children and adults.
    This also makes the assumption that these ast tracked social workers will receive excellent monitoring and supervision. This may not be the reality ..

  12. Debra January 10, 2019 at 5:08 pm #

    I do not understand why!!!! Social workers who left the profession with years of experience due to high case loads, mis management etc… why are the government not trying to encourage them back.

    Norfolk have return to social work initiatives to encourage return why do not other local authorities follow Norfolk lead or colleges/universities offer refresher courses with placements.

  13. Lollybun January 10, 2019 at 6:13 pm #

    I would hate to be a ‘fast tracked’ social worker. We should have put back the money that lead to assistant social workers being made redundant. They were incredibly skilled.

  14. Jane January 10, 2019 at 6:31 pm #

    Lets hope the programme delivers what it says …retention of frontline SW….so far in my LA most frontliners have left the profession after asye or used as a stepping to other careers.

  15. dk January 10, 2019 at 9:02 pm #

    The LGA estimates a children’s services overspend of £806m in the last financial year and predicts it will be £3.1b by 2025.

    If only children’s services up and down the country each had their share of that £45m…

    Never understood why so many people are so inclined to see zero sum games everywhere.

  16. A Man Called Horse January 11, 2019 at 6:27 pm #

    I am going to stop making comments as Community Care erases and removes most of my very reasonable comments. I think they don’t like political comments which is strange given that everything related to Socai Work is political.
    We dont need no Education, we dont need thought control.

  17. NJC January 11, 2019 at 7:37 pm #

    This is a tricky one…… I’ve qualified as a social worker through Frontline. I was a qualified probation officer of 20 years working in a YOS. However, things started to change and my YOS’ were only wanting social workers. I had to retrain to be able to continue working with the young people I’d dedicated my career to.

    Many of the people I trained with were in the same position in many ways. Most came from a background of working with children in some capacity. There were some fresh out of university. There were many old ones like me. The course is intense and those without the resilience or passion do not complete. It nearly broke me. However, my experience is that Frontline is bringing good social workers to the profession.

    I agree that having a wider breath of experience and theory would be a benefit. I agree that it is a lot of money. I still believe it’s probably worth the cash.

  18. La social worker January 16, 2019 at 11:48 pm #

    There are lots of young people who complete different degrees and develop a good understanding of child development. Why not train these now maturer students to become social workers. I have worked with two excellent fast track students, one who was a primary school teacher and parent. Let’s stop being precious and get the staff we need to bring down caseloads and retain good staff who could end up burnt out.

  19. Elizabeth Gorny- Johnson January 19, 2019 at 8:08 am #

    I am a qualified Health and Social care assessor looking to go into social work but I have been disheartened as I have applied to numerous NHS and Govenmental sites to work in assessing the needs of vulnerable people any my reply is * sorry you have been unsuccessful * no other explaination
    I have over 30 years experience in the differing sectors within the care field and I have given up trying now
    So as for the care sector needing individuals I beg to differ

  20. Daniel Powner January 25, 2019 at 6:18 am #

    This is double the cost of the most expensive undergrad degree that would be funded by people themselves. It’s a typical right wing project, which seems fundamentally wrong to me.