Firstline aims to support managers to become high-performing and influential leaders in social work and wider society.
Firstline supports managers to focus on leadership, as well as nurturing and developing staff practice, rather than process management. Firstline focuses managers on their individual skill and power and through the programme, they explore and define the ways they can actively apply this leadership, to be even more effective in achiving better outcomes for children and families.
The leadership development programme consists of a series of residential modules; six two-hour individual sessions with a highly skilled leadership development adviser and four practice development sessions. All activity (bar the residential modules) takes place within the Firstline leaders local authority.
With continued need for leadership development programmes, in children and family social work, the Firstline programme is being expanded, with continued evaluation. A further £3.73m has been invested by the Innovation Programme to spread Firstline to over 400 social work managers across three years.
A DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 found that the First Line Leaders (FLLs) gave overwhelmingly positive feedback about the programme. The majority considered that it represented the best training and professional development that they had received as managers and leaders. The FLLs’ teams of social workers reported perceived improvements in their FLLs’ capabilities for learning and developing others; holding to account; analysis and decision making.