Viewpoint: Fast-track Social Work: a rapid route to progress or burnout?


Dr Stephanie Petrie is Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the University of Liverpool’s School of Law and Social Justice

“Michael Gove, Education Secretary, has recently announced a new fast track intensive five week social work training programme, Frontline, for graduates of non-social work degrees.

“The programme builds on an IPPR report authored by Josh MacAlister, a teacher, and mirrors the Teach First scheme. Frontline, for which MacAlister is now CEO, is being ‘incubated’ by ARK the international children’s charity and limited company and has been funded by the DoE to do so.

“There are few qualified social workers in these enterprises and as yet no participating organisation has been identified or approached the College of Social Work for endorsement. Concern has already been expressed by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies that the scheme may not be viable and cuts across the plans outlined by the Social Work Reform Board in 2010.

“Graduate unemployment and a need for qualified social workers may well attract some into a fast track programme who are primarily in search of secure employment. Young graduates not fully aware of the emotional and personal demands of social work and with limited life experience can suffer ‘burn-out’ or become cynical after only a short while in stressful work environments.

“Whilst it is true that practice skills, underpinned by a rigorous and critical theoretical foundation are best developed in the workplace, the drain of social work expertise and experience from many organisations is a problem. It would make more sense and better use of scarce resources to attract back into the profession those who have taken redundancy options as local authorities have downsized or who are employed through agencies because of pay or flexibility advantages. There is no substitute for mature human judgement in complex human situations.”

Leave a comment