The government announced this morning that it will be boosting the number of children’s social workers in the UK through a £45 million initiative which will aim to train up around 900 social workers by 2021.
The funding was secured by just one social work charity. Frontline, whose patrons include Labour MP Lord Adonis, and former Head of the Downing Street Policy Unit Camilla Cavendish, secured the multimillion-pound grant to recruit and train would-be children and family social workers. The grant was awarded after Frontline produced its own research suggesting that 44% of adults aged 18 – 34 were considering a change of career this year. The research also claims that a quarter of millennials (25%) would prioritise purpose over pay.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds says the recruitment drive will produce better social workers able to deliver a service that will do children justice, though it is unclear how funding alone might achieve better social work practice across the country.
The Department for Education’s press release points out that Frontline is a ‘top graduate recruiter’ which has trained over 1,000 people through its programme since 2013, but as social work practice is not improving throughout the country, this raises serious questions about the charity’s ability to deliver professional social workers. There is also no evidence offered in the press release – or the charity’s website – to show that Frontline’s training programme is better than any other across the United Kingdom.
In the press release the Education Secretary offers the following comments:
“Social workers are heroes, often unsung, of our society – working on the frontline to offer care and support to some of the most vulnerable children and families in the country.
Children’s social care is only as good as the people who deliver it, which is why we want to recruit, retain and develop the best social workers, so they can continue to offer the much-needed lifeline to those who need it most.
That’s why the Government is supporting Frontline with £45 million to continue their work in attracting and training bright graduates and career changers, who aspire for a rewarding career as a social worker.”