Proposed Coventry Frontline Unit

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Avon Room, 5th Floor, Broadgate House, Coventry, CV1

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Briefing on the Frontline social work qualifying programme

1. Overview

The aim of the Frontline Organisation is to make a real difference to children’s lives by delivering a high quality post-graduate social work programme. Our approach is based on a model of social work practice which believes social workers should be spending their time doing direct work with children and families, delivering real change through their application of evidence-based methods of help.

Frontline seeks to attract high performing graduates and career changers into the profession who have the right combination of resilience, values, empathy, relational and intellectual attributes to become outstanding social workers. The programme has a particular focus on preparing its participants to work in statutory child in need / child protection services.

2. The Programme

The programme lasts two years. Throughout these two years, participants are linked with the same local authority, first as a student then as an employee.

Year 1 is the qualifying year. Participants receive a combination of academic input and practice experience in the local authority they are placed in.

  • The year starts with a five-week residential institute in which the basic elements are taught to enable the participants to start as students in the local authority.
  • The participants join the local authority’s children’s social care service in units of four. Some local authorities will have one unit, others two or more. The participants spend 206 days in the local authority. Based in the service area responsible for child in need / child protection work, they develop their learning by working on cases which meet the threshold for children’s social care intervention.
  • They are supervised and developed by a Consultant Social Worker (CSW). The CSW is a member of the local authority’s staff seconded to the role full time for the year.

Key elements of the programme during this year:

  1. 1. Because our view is that social workers should be spending most of their time doing direct work with children and families, we teach evidence-based practice models in-depth. Specifically, we teach systemic family therapy, Motivational Interviewing and parenting interventions based on Social Learning Theory. (This is in addition to other taught areas such as the law and child development which all courses would cover). This focus on development of practice skills and knowledge means that participants are equipped to work effectively with children, families and adults.

  1. 2. The CSWs are also trained in these practice areas as well being trained on how to lead the unit and be an effective practice educator on the programme.

  1. 3. The units work on family cases collectively with their CSW. This is based on the Hackney Reclaiming Social Work model. Key to this model is the half day unit meeting which takes place each week when the unit’s cases are discussed, reflected on and plans developed. Participants also receive 1-1 supervision from their CSW, but this focusses on their professional and personal development and learning rather than case planning.

  1. 4. Throughout the year the participants receive 20+ additional days of academic input. In addition, their Frontline Practice Tutor will spend 15 days with the unit, bringing relevant research findings to the actual case discussions they are having.

  1. 5. Participants are assessed not just through written assignments but also through observation of their actual practice, which takes place on seven occasions. In other words, people cannot pass this course if they can’t demonstrate good practice with families in real situations.

If participants complete this year successfully they are awarded the Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Work.

In Year 2, the participants become the employees of the council they are in; the unit ceases to operate and they join mainstream teams in the children’s social care service. As an NQSW this is their ASYE year. During the year in addition to the local authority’s AYSE programme they also undertake a Master’s degree in social work which deepens the learning from the first year.

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