2 Apr 2021

Learning about supervision from the NQSW pilots

Learning about supervision from the NQSW pilots

NQSW supervision resource 3

The NQSW supported year pilots

The evaluation report from the NQSW supported year pilots, and evidence from the current longitudinal study into the experiences of NQSWs in Scotland identified that reflective, structured supervision and mentoring was core to the NQSW supported year. Supervision provided insight into the NQSW’s practice and overall wellbeing.

Opportunities to consider practice against the draft NQSW standards was felt to be particularly important. This was also confirmed in recent feedback on training with NQSW and supervisors where we tested out our ideas for inclusion in this website.

Further to traditional supervision styles 1:1 with a line manager, informal support was found to be an important element. However, it was felt that this area or peer support needed more attention to the development of frameworks for peer supervision or mentoring approaches. In beginning to address these needs, access to online training and resources and the development of a web-based learning resource was felt to be important.

Supervision practices

While it is acknowledged that there are areas of very strong practice across the sector, some supervisors of NQSW involved in the pilot indicated they felt they could benefit from further training in supervision and giving and receiving developmental feedback.   

Grant et al. (2019), observed wide variation in practice and that professional development took a backseat to caseload concerns finding:

…a privileging of case-management over professional development in supervision” with only 65% of NQSW getting monthly supervision and 76% of respondents reporting a focus on caseload management.’

Grant et al. (2019)

This report also identified the importance of informal supports which:

continues to emerge as a critical if underutilised mechanism for supporting professional confidence, competence and development.’

Grant et al. (2019)

Several issues were highlighted in the report on the supported year pilots including giving and receiving developmental feedback. One of the significant findings was the benefits to NQSWs of available frameworks for peer supervision.

This is covered in more detail in the section on Using peer reflective practice and the associated training materials that your organisation may use to deliver online or face-to-face supervision training on running peer reflective practice sessions. Such sessions may support you to process thoughts and feelings arising from practice with less potential power imbalance or performance pressure than supervision with a line manager.

You can also find out more details about the pilot work in the resource about Learning about supervision from the NQSW pilots.

Information and links

  • Please remember that clicking on any of these links will take you to information and sites external to the SSSC NQSW website
  • Grant, S., McCulloch, T., Daly, M. & Kettle, M.  (2019) Newly qualified social workers in Scotland: A five-year longitudinal study. Interim Report 3. Dundee: SSSC.
  • Hawkins, P., McMahon, A., Ryde, J., Shohet, R., & Wilmot, J. (2020) Supervision in the helping professions (5th ed.). London: Open University Press.
  • Patterson, F. (2019) Supervising the supervisors: What support do first-line supervisors need to be more effective in their supervisory role? Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work 31(3), 46–57

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