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This study examined the use of group supervision with Family Support Workers (FSWs) based in Children’s Centres. The methodological framework selected for the present study utilises case study and Realistic Evaluation (Pawson & Tilley, 1997). The key research questions use a Realistic Evaluation framework to explore the mechanisms, context and outcomes of the group supervision model:

  • What are the outcomes of group supervision for Family Support Workers and their managers?
  • What mechanisms within group supervision promote or inhibit its use with Family Support Workers in Children’s Centres?
  • What mechanisms within Family Support Workers promote or inhibit the use of group supervision with them?
  • What are the features of the context that promote or inhibit the use of group supervision with Family Support Workers in Children’s Centres?

The study identified key mechanisms, in terms of the features of the participants and of the intervention of group supervision. The key features of the Family Support Workers identified in the study were;

  • their confidence level, their experience within the job and of supervision,
  • their availability of time and ability to prioritise group supervision,
  • the team relationships with colleagues and
  • the openness of the individual FSW to new ideas. 

The key features within the intervention of group supervision were identified;

  • the professional contract,
  • the group working agreement,
  • the role of the supervisor,
  • the size of the group and
  • the group is comprised of peers who do the same job
The study identified descriptive features of the context that promote  the use of group supervision;
  • having and sustaining management support
  • the supervisor being able to use a range of conceptual frameworks to both understand and support the dynamic of the group and balance the different needs within a group. 
The study identified professions likely to access and benefit from group supervision as those where:
  • the work is emotionally demanding,
  • where professionals need to share and talk as there may be limited opportunities to do so due to lone working, small teams
  • where there are shared goals such as supporting children or families.
The outcomes were coded into educative and supportive functions (Hawkins & Shohet, 2006). The positive outcomes described by both FSWs and managers strongly outweighed the number and frequency of negative outcomes.
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 The educative outcomes were;
  • learning from others,
  • sharing experiences and problems,
  • gaining ideas and strategies,
  • gaining other people’s perspectives and views.

The supportive outcomes were;

  • reduction in isolation,
  • raised confidence and reassurance that others face similar problems and issues.
  • supporting the development of team relationships
  • being able to support others in the group.

The FSWs and managers all reported a positive impact on the service for children and families and therefore leading to better outcomes for children and families.

If you feel this appraoch has uses in your Children's Centre, school or setting please contact me

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