DfE awards Frontline £10m contract to run social work leadership training program



Mary Jackson, Managing Director, Frontline (credit: Frontline)

Frontline has won a £10million government contract to provide training and development to the council’s children’s social work managers and leaders.

The organization – best known for its accelerated social work qualification program – announced yesterday that it had won the Department of Education (DfE) contract to deliver the new Pathways scheme, which will start later this year.

The contract is for two years and Frontline will deliver Pathways in partnership with industry evidence body What Works for Children’s Social Care and North Yorkshire Council, with support from Hertfordshire Council.

Pathways will train 1,000 managers and leaders per year at four different levels: practice supervisor, middle manager, department heads and practice leaders (equivalent to deputy directors).

The program replaces Frontline’s existing Firstline and Headline programs for team leaders and department heads respectively, as well as two other existing programs funded by the DfE:

“Support leaders to equip social workers”

Frontline Chief Executive Mary Jackson said: “This national investment in developing more than 1,000 social work leaders is both crucial and positive; we know that great leadership empowers people at all levels to navigate their roles and help create a culture that puts children and families first.

“That’s why a focus on leadership support to equip social workers with the skills to provide the best possible support and best outcomes for children and families is central to every journey.”

The training, at all four levels, will have both online and in-person elements and will emphasize equality and diversity, Frontline said.

What Works’ role will be to design and implement the research and evidence-related elements of the program, including training in research methods and conducting service evaluations.

“It is crucial to invest in social work”

North Yorkshire Deputy Director of Child and Family Services, Martin Kelly, said: “It is critically important to invest in social work in the UK, so that the sector can recruit, retaining and championing the best – children and young people deserve nothing less. .

“We welcome this program and the investment from the government, which recognizes the importance of this objective.”

“Pride” in delivering the supervisor program

Following the announcement, the organizations behind the PSDP said: “We – Research in Practice, the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Sussex and Goldsmiths University London – are extremely proud of having co-directed the PSDP.

“Over the past four years, working with our network of committed higher education institutions and other delivery partners, we have delivered 122 courses reaching over 2,000 practice supervisors and middle managers. The positive feedback and impact data speaks to the hard work of the participants.

“It has been a privilege to show what can be achieved through an evidence-based sector approach to professional learning. In line with our not-for-profit philosophy, we have developed an open-access website full of free resources and tools to support reflective supervision and inclusive leadership – we are delighted to say that this website will remain available until in March 2023 at least.

“Social work has never been more important to society than it is today; promoting the profession has never been so vital. We warmly welcome the DfE’s continued investment in social work education and wish Frontline all the best in this new contract. We hope the sector will continue to benefit from high quality, values-based professional development.

Confidence in the new program

A spokesperson for Kensington and Chelsea Council, part of the Center for Systemic Social Work, said he was confident the Pathways program “will continue to develop excellent practice leaders for the future, and we are working in partnership with Frontline to ensure a smooth transition process”.

They added: “We are extremely grateful to the participants and those who have contributed to the program with energy, enthusiasm and practical wisdom. We enjoyed meeting so many brilliant minds and committed social workers.

The spokesperson confirmed that the center would continue its work as a DfE sector-led improvement partner for child welfare, special needs education and disability.

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