Black and ethnic minority student rate improves for Think Ahead but remains half of master’s average

Representation up from 16% to 17% but fast-track mental health course lags well behind university postgraduate courses and profession as a whole

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Black and ethnic minority representation on Think Ahead has improved slightly to its highest level this year but remains just half that of university master’s courses.

Seventeen per cent of this year’s cohort at the fast-track mental health social work course are from Black and ethnic minority groups, up from a 16% average from 2016-19. The programme started in 2015.

However, despite the improvement – and the rate being above the Black and ethnic minority population in England and Wales (14% in the 2011 census) – it lags well behind that of other training routes and the social work profession itself (see box).

Critically, it is just under half the rate of university master’s social work courses who are direct comparators for Think Ahead, in so far as draws its intake from graduates.

Black and ethnic minority representation comparison in England

Self-examination on race

The figures come with social work organisations examining their records on race – both in relation to people who use services and to their workforces and students, in the light of the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protest that followed.

Its fellow fast-track provider, Frontline, has published a race and inclusion action plan vowing action on intake, curriculum and staffing, while Think Ahead is also examining the same issues.

A Think Ahead spokesperson: “Our intake is more diverse in terms of ethnicity than the population as a whole, but we know this is not good enough – we want our social workers to represent the communities they will serve. To achieve this, and to be true to our anti-racist values, we are looking to make changes in every area of our work, from recruitment, to our curriculum, to our wider work in the sector.

“To focus this, we recently began a comprehensive review of our work, including by listening to and learning from the communities we work with, and we’ve already started making changes based on the feedback we got.”

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3 Responses to Black and ethnic minority student rate improves for Think Ahead but remains half of master’s average

  1. Jenni Barnett August 12, 2020 at 12:48 pm #

    Think Ahead is a great resource but in reality no one else is thinking ahead so you make no real changes in recruitment and no real change in senior recruitment of non white employees. Where non white employees are recruited at the grass level they suffer intolerable racism and do not ride through the ranks. If a non white employee does rise through the ranks there is always someone on the fifth floor to push you back to grass roots. The locum population is disproportionately black with no pension or security. They are given twice the caseload amount and criticised about their unacceptably high caseloads not going down. Thinking Ahead means unbearable work experiences becoming a nomadic worker who is disconnected from family and friends in the name of earning a living whose security both financially and emotionally has no correlation with thinking ahead.

  2. alex August 13, 2020 at 8:13 pm #

    What are the proportion of black applicants compared to white applicants. This is an important stat that is missing.

  3. Alex August 13, 2020 at 10:06 pm #

    ‘They are given twice the case load’ – where is your evidence.