Ministers say the scheme of fast-tracking top graduates into the frontline of care will enable social workers to focus on vulnerable children and their families.

Following a report by think tank IPPR, the government devised the scheme based on the successful Teach First model, which selects and trains high-flying graduates to become teachers in tough areas.

The report identified a clear shortage of social workers and problems recruiting top graduates and it is suggested the scheme, known as Frontline, will "raise the quality of applicants, improve standards on the front line and help stem the staffing crisis".

Author Josh MacAlister, who's also a Teach First Ambassador, said: "This is a call for change to the profession and the government.

"It is not inevitable that social work remains one of Britain's least appealing careers when it is in fact one of the most demanding and important.

"A scheme like this could transform perceptions of social work and contribute to the huge task of tackling social disadvantage."

Under the plan, high-fliers in their final year of undergraduate study would be recruited by Frontline and attend an intensive summer school followed by on-the-job training alongside their final year of university.

Lord Andrew Adonis gave his support to the scheme and said: "For tens of thousands of children each year, social workers not only make a profound difference to their life chances, they are often the single bridge between danger and safety in a child's life.

"Yet too many of the most vulnerable children in society - those in care or at serious risk of harm - are getting neither the protection nor the opportunities they deserve.

"When Teach First was launched, the sceptics were all about. Teach First confounded the sceptics and I believe Frontline will too."

Frontline is just one of a number of initiatives proposed to boost standards and morale in social work including a graduate level entry scheme, called Step Up to Social Work, which offers them £15,000 to etrain as children's social workers, gaining a master's in social work, alongside intensive hands-on experience.

Posted 05/10/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com