Graduate fast-track scheme for social workers announced

Graduates on a new fast-track scheme for social workers will be managing caseloads after just five weeks of intensive initial training.

The initiative, called Frontline, is designed to attract talented graduates into the profession and mimics Teach First, which offers teaching posts on a similar basis to top graduates.

Funding for a pilot Frontline scheme for 100 trainees has been announced by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, to begin in September.

In the summer of next year the new recruits will attend "intensive" summer school training at a leading university before going straight into two years' hands-on work in a local authority alongside further university-based study.

The trainees will qualify as social workers at the end of the first year with the opportunity to do a master's degree in the second year.

They will be paid a salary comparable with a Teach First trainee salary, rising to that of a qualified social worker.

Josh MacAlister, Frontline chief executive, described the initiative is an "exciting opportunity" to bring the best people into one of Britain's toughest jobs.

"Frontline will be totally focused on recruiting and developing outstanding social workers to lead change for disadvantaged children," he said.

Isabelle Trowler, who has been praised for transforming children's services in the London Borough of Hackney, has been appointed England's first Chief Social Worker.

"I know the best social work can transform lives but too often we only hear about the things that go wrong," Ms Trowler, who helped design the Frontline curriculum, said.

"I want to raise standards throughout the profession so that every social work team in the country is as good as the best."

Michael Gove said: "I am pleased to announce our support for Frontline, an exciting proposal and a real challenge for the brightest applicants who will have the privilege and satisfaction of helping to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children in the country."

Copyright Press Association 2013