Most talented graduates set to be recruited in a TeachFirst-style scheme to boost the social work profession

The recruitment of talented graduates as social workers is one of the measures being put forward to help transform the profession.

The Frontline initiative is the brainchild of a former TeachFirst student, Josh McAllister.

He wants to emulate the scheme, which boosted teaching by training top graduates to work at schools in poorer areas, and he has asked the Government to back a charity which would adopt a similar strategy for social work.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said the idea is one of the "most promising" put forward as he seeks to improve the standing of the profession and make it more attractive to the most talented graduates from the top universities.

Mr Gove said Mr McAllister's call for a TeachFirst-style charity in the social work field would give university leavers the chance to take on jobs in which they can make a "dramatic difference" in the lives of vulnerable people and change perceptions of the profession.

"Frontline - the proposition Josh has advanced with such care, thought and passion - is a brilliant idea," he said.

Mr Gove said that previous governments had lacked confidence in social workers, and added that there was too much interference from central government in the way social workers were managed.

But he did praise different measures taken by the Labour government in relation to schools, such as academies, the National College for School Leadership, and encouraging teachers in good schools to share their experience and expertise with their peers in poorer schools.

He said these examples could be used to show the way forward for the social work profession, adding that some similar steps have already been taken in a bid to boost its prestige and professionalism.

"That is why the College of Social Work has been set up and we are planning to establish the office of Chief Social Worker," Mr Gove said.

"More requires to be done - both in improving initial training and enhancing leadership - but the recognition is there among ministers and social workers that we need to work harder to improve how the profession operates."

Copyright Press Association 2012