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Social Work Campaigners Letter  To Halt £50m Deal

Social Work Campaigners Letter To Halt £50m Deal

By Chartlotte Webster-

Campaigners and the British Association of Social Workers has called on the government to halt the procurement process for a £50 million contract that would train up to 900 social workers through fast-track routes.

The group have  raised their strong concerns after being notified of the contract which was published in March. They have warned that the continued extension of fast-track routes without a long-term evaluation would create instability in mainstream social work education.

The letter states that despite the commissioning to understand the impact of frontline alongside university routes, the government was “committing large amounts of money to extend a programme  that is unproven in resolving the challenge for employers of retaining and developing experienced social workers”

SUSPENDED

The letter added that the prior information notice, which outlined that the formal contract would be published April 30, should be suspended while there is a stakeholder consultation, impact assessment, and time for a “proper evaluation” of Frontline. The group say the numbers trained under the contract would pose a “significant challenge to the viability of current postgraduate programmes in universities across England”.

“We are concerned that this expansion will reduce applications to – and thereby threaten – courses in some of the most prestigious, research-oriented universities where such post-graduate provision tends to be clustered,” the letter said.

Additional concerns that the Frontline programme had so far “reproduced” structural inequalities through its recruitment has also been strongly expressed. The Uk government may now be compelled to address the concerns, particularly claims of inequalities, something the UK government cannot condone. The nature of the inequalities  of concern will need to be outlined for the government to examine.

Under the objectives of the  £50m contract  is the promotion of a programme, attracting applications from high performing graduates with leadership potential, who might not otherwise have considered a career in social work;

It aims to  manage candidate assessment to ensure those entering the programme have the right skills, behaviours, and resilience to succeed as child and family social workers. The programme, schedulled to begin on  Nov 1, 2018,  is intended to secure and manage sufficient training and employment placements to support 700 – 900 trainees across two cohorts, starting in 2020 and 2021. The programme also aims to see  successful applicants ”gain a masters degree in social work on conclusion of the training”

Campaigners say those trained under the contract would pose a “significant challenge to the viability of current postgraduate programmes in universities across England”.

“We are concerned that this expansion will reduce applications to – and thereby threaten – courses in some of the most prestigious, research-oriented universities where such post-graduate provision tends to be clustered,” the letter said.

“We think it is essential that government engage with the implications of an extension of Frontline, which is not university-based, for a profession which is currently built on independent and academically robust social work research and education at Masters and doctorate levels,” it said.

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