On the ‘Frontline’

Last Friday morning I switched on the radio to hear a report on the government’s plan to introduce the new Frontline programme into social work, based on the Teach First programme already recruiting within teacher education. Twitter was alive all day with responses from prominent academics, practitioners and others debating whether or not this was a positive step forward for the social work profession.

One of the phrases that jumped out at me was Frontline’s assertion that the point of this programme was to attract ‘top graduates’ to social work. Was the inference therefore that at the moment social work wasn’t attracting ‘top graduates? I did contact Frontline and ask them if they could define the phrase but no response was forthcoming. As someone who is not a social worker but has had a very close involvement with the profession for the last 12 years I am not in a position to judge whether Frontline is a good development or not. However, I did feel saddened by this perceived slight on current social work students and practitioners.

Only the day before I had had two great meetings with recently qualified social workers who I am proud to say are both Critical Publishing authors. In the morning I met with Rebecca Joy Novell @RebJoyNov who is just finishing her ASYE, one of the first to embark on it within the voluntary sector. In addition to a demanding new job, she finds time to sit on the College of Social Work advisory board, lecture for BASW on social media and is writing her first book – an extract from which you can read here.

Later on Thursday I was at the University of Northampton for the launch of Anti-racism in Social Work Practice, edited by Angie Bartoli. I was delighted to finally meet Charity Chukwuemeka, an ex-social work student from the university who has now been a practitioner for three years. She wrote a chapter for the book giving some insight into what it is to be a black social work practitioner in this country and you can read an extract of her work here. I have great admiration for Charity. Not only is English not her first language but she managed to write her chapter despite the demands of a hectic job, 3 small children and a husband who accidently deleted the whole first draft of her work!

Both Rebecca and Charity had good academic qualifications behind them before starting the social work degree so qualify as ‘top graduates’. I hope all the new entrants via Frontline will share their passion for social work and drive to make things different, as I suspect this is what makes great social workers in the long run.

Di Page, 21 May 2013

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