The legislation in Scotland requires that an individual has an ‘entitling’ qualification before we can grant registration onto the part of the Register for social workers. We also have the power to impose conditions at the point of registering a social worker.

The social work degree in Scotland is generic and the recent Review of Social Work Education determined that it will remain a generic qualification with undergraduate and postgraduate routes. Specialist social work programmes do not meet the generic requirements, as required by the Framework for Social Work Education in Scotland.

We have assessed the Frontline and Step Up qualifications as not meeting the Standards in Social Work Education (SiSWE) that apply to the approval of courses in Scotland. It is our view that specialist social work training does not fully meet the range of social work training required in Scotland.

We will accept the Frontline or Step Up postgraduate diplomas in social work as an ‘entitling’ qualification to permit entry to the Register for social workers, with a condition that registrants complete compensatory measures to meet the SiSWE in relation to working with adults. Our Council has endorsed this decision.

The compensatory measure is likely to be two academic pieces of work along these lines:

  • a reflective analysis of learning, knowledge and understanding, skills and ethical commitment in adult care practice in relation to the six key roles
  • a case study related to adult care.

This will apply to all specialist programmes developed to prepare social work graduates to work within specialist areas of social work practice. It is likely that they would be considered as an ‘entitling’ qualification with a condition to complete compensatory measures. The compensatory measures would relate to the wider roles and responsibilities of social work.

We would suggest that Frontline, Step Up or other specialist qualification holders, such as Think Ahead, or those currently studying for the qualifications, who want to work in Scotland should familiarise themselves with the SiSWE, so you can gather evidence aligned to the standards as you undertake your qualification.

You can read the SiSWE here.


Frontline is a charitable organisation which delivers a postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. This is a 13 month long programme that prepares students to work in children’s services. On completion of the diploma, students can progress to complete the Masters in Social Work component in the second year.

Step Up is a 14 month long programme for trainee social workers. Trainees work in a local authority gaining hands-on experience and academic learning. They will finish with a postgraduate diploma in social work.

The Frontline and Step Up qualifications are acceptable for registration by the Health and Care Professions Council in England.

Generic social work degrees

There is a Memorandum of Understanding between the four countries of the UK to allow movement of social workers between countries. This enables social workers to register in the different parts of the UK.

This applies to social work degree holders from all generic social work programmes. The Memorandum of Understanding does not apply to Frontline, Step Up or any other specialist programmes. Each of the four countries has different arrangements in place for Frontline, Step Up and any other specialist social work postgraduate Diploma holders.