There has been much said about Frontline, the newly proposed fast-track social work qualifying programme, in different papers and media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Independent, and there have also been various consultations. However, there has never been the opportunity for professionals, social workers, users and providers of services, academics, organisation and the general public to engage in an open public debate with the programme or its founder Josh MacAlister.
Therefore, we are glad to offer social work practitioners, academics and various stakeholders the opportunity to engage in an open debate with Josh MacAlister (the founder and leader of Frontline project).
In tomorrow’s debate (Tuesday, 15 January at 8:00 PM GMT / 3:00 PM EST) @SWSCmedia we wish to explore some of the following questions:
- Social work students need to complete 200 days of practice placement (170 days of placement, 30 days of skills development), and at least as many hours of academic studies, in addition to various essays, practice portfolios, reflective logs, child observation, field/practice observation and process recording, and more. They will need time for reflection and regular supervisions to develop their reflective abilities and to guide and support them along their journey. This is quite challenging and you propose to do all of that in 12 months time. This does not leave much room for flexibility and for dealing with unexpected adverse events such as student illness, etc. Doesn’t this make Frontline project a very high risk programme?
- Step up to Social Work is the existing fast-track qualifying programme for social work. A good percentage of the Step up to Social Work students come from Russell group universities and all Step up to Social Work students have achieved a 2.1 or a First in their previous studies. Your programme is aimed at the same student population, however, it proposes to complete the training in 12 months instead of 18 months. How is finishing a degree 6 months earlier going to improve the quality of social work training and address the current challenges of social work?
- You suggest that you would like to offer a network of graduates for Frontline similar to the Teach First network and we can appreciate such a network could support the programme’s graduates. You also suggest that the graduates will be offered leadership training after their graduation. Step up to Social Work students are part of a network of Step up graduates and can access various leadership and other trainings. What makes your programme any different from the current fast track programme in social work?
- The number of Step up to Social Work students are small percentage (less than 5%) of total number of students studying social work qualifying courses, and given the intensive nature of Frontline training, the number for Frontline students will be even a smaller percentage (perhaps less than 100 students at any given time). Therefore, the community around Frontline will be much smaller than the Teach First community. This will make the Frontline programme a relatively marginal training route into social work and one with a very limited impact. What is your view about this?
- We understand that you are currently working on a business plan for Frontline. What has been the cost of Frontline programme so far? and How much do you think you may need to launch and then to operate the programme on a year to year basis? and how do you expect to raise this money?
- The wording for Frontline report and its positioning sound like it is the panacea for all the challenges and difficulties in social work. This is a dangerously misleading representation of Frontline and social work. What do you think of this? and What is it that makes Frontline any different from the existing fast track qualifying programmes in social work?
- Burn out and retention of staff are two of the many challenges of social work. This is mainly due to the highly demanding and emotionally taxing nature of the work as well as a host of other factors including high caseloads and low pay, etc. How will Frontline address these problems?
- You speak about raising the quality of training for social work and yet intend to reduce the length of such a training and condense the entire programme in 12 months. That only reduces the time for reflection, exploration, and situational and inquiry based learning. How can that increase the quality of social work training?
- Instead of such an intensive training why not invest in a top quality qualifying programme that is delivered on a self-paced and flexible manner and over a lengthier period of time?
- Given the profound challenges in social and fiscal policy ranging from an ageing demographic combined with increasing life expectancy, to the widening socio-economic gap in society, to increasing challenges in mental health, is Frontline not more of a distraction that allows the government to pretend they are doing something with social work that pays dividends in social policy and politics?
Join us tomorrow (Tuesday, 15 January) at 8:00 PM GMT / 3:00 PM EST @SWSCmedia to explore the above and to raise your own questions and share your views regarding Frontline training proposal.