Learning at Work week is an annual event in May. It aims to to put a spotlight on the importance and benefits of learning and development at work. This year it takes place from 15th-21st May and the theme is 'Curious & Creative'.

ScOPT are running a series of articles on the website to tie in with Learning at Work week, as well as highlighting appropriate resources each day.

This is a post about supervision by Gillian Muir.


Supporting learning at work through effective supervision

Supervision is a key plank of support in social work learning and development for students, newly-qualified social workers (NQSW) and experienced practitioners.

Despite audit, inspection and research undertaken down the years, messages on how to improve supervision practice have not been heard and there is still much to be done to get it right for everyone. By everyone, I mean organisations, staff, students, service users and carers. It is perhaps in practice education supervision that we use supervision to its fullest.

I put together a Short Thoughts piece some time ago to illustrate perspectives on what makes for effective supervision and to use as a start point for developing shared understandings. Working with a student recently (long-arm), I was reminded that what is missing is a specific acknowledgement of the importance of addressing the emotional content of the work. Despite writing a reflective piece on a difficult event, she found having a reflective discussion moved her processing on to a point of accommodation and action planning. She reflected later that being given permission and encouragement to explore the emotional content of the practice increased her confidence in her empathy and self-awareness. It validated her use of supervision to gain perspective on this experience.

The space to consider the emotional affect of practice is not always available in staff supervision and this can be apparent when supporting NQSWs. The draft of the review of the SiSWE (2016) emphasises the need for students and NQSWs to be aware of their wellbeing and resilience and to use supervision to develop personal and professional strategies.

Morrison and Wonnacott (2010) and Ingram (2013) offer perspectives on the importance of supervision as a process to support the development of emotional intelligence. They discuss the need to critically analyse the impact of worker’s emotions on thoughts, actions and decision-making.

This recent experience has emphasised for me the importance to learning of knowing that you will have regular supervision where it is expected and encouraged that emotions and affect of practice will be discussed and analysed.



Morrison, T and Wonnacott, J (2010) Supervision: Now or Never, reclaiming reflective supervision in Social Work, http://www.in-trac.co.uk/supervision-now-or-never/ (accessed 15 May 2017)

Ingram, R. (2013) Emotions, social work practice and supervision: an uneasy alliance?, Journal of Social Work Practice, 27:1, 5-19, DOI: 10.1080/02650533.2012.745842 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/
 (accessed 15 May 2017)


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