Models of Group Supervision
Model 1: University of the West of Scotland, Paisley
A pilot project of highly structured group supervision provision was conducted at the University of the West of Scotland, Paisley Campus, in 2008/09. Devised as a partnership between agencies, the University and a small group of independent practice teachers, this project grew out of the demise of funded practice units and built on the expertise and placement provision that had accumulated over the years in association with those units.
The key features of this model are:
- Students are supervised individually and in a group on alternate weeks throughout the placement.
- The students are all at the same stage of learning.
- The group supervision is run by a facilitator, from the University staff, whose role is that of timekeeper, director of proceedings and manager of the group process.
- The practice teacher of the students in the group attends and their role is that of assessment, support of the group process and offering of feedback to the students. During the session they take notes for individual feedback later.
- The aims and objectives of the group are established in advance and presented to the groups at the first session.
- All groups meet together for the first session at which groundrules are agreed.
- A Practice Learning Agreement is drawn up in advance and includes details of who is responsible for the day-to-day supervision of practice, the assessment of the student’s practice, work in the group etc.
- The group timetable is themed with the students being set reading and tasks in relation to each session.
- The reading for the series of sessions is contained in one book and in a bound collection of readings, a ‘toolkit’; the students are given this material at the start of the placement. This material is given to all students in that year group, not just those involved in the group supervision arrangements.
- The students present their work (10-15 minutes) at each session and this work is discussed by the group in relation to its application to practice.
- The students within each group give verbal feedback within the group time and this peer support is important to the model.
- Each practice teacher gives individual feedback in writing and verbally to the student on their presentation and participation in the following week’s individual supervision.
- The group is both a learning and a supervision group. (see here for a discussion of the differences)
- The Practice Teachers on the pilot were brought together and offered peer support and an opportunity to discuss practice issues on a regular basis.
This pilot project was at its interim stage at the time of writing. For further information about it and its evaluation contact Jayne Howie or Jill Mac Sporran at the University of the West of Scotland:
Model 2: The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen
Responding to an increasing shortage of placements and the resulting stress on students (Bruce 2008) the Robert Gordon University worked with agencies to establish a new approach to the organisation and delivery of practice learning. The aim was to make more efficient use of existing resources in order to ensure a more stable and sustainable supply of placements for students (Cree et al 2005). The model uses group supervision as part of a wider pattern of supervision, as research (Lindsay 2003) indicates that the combination of group and individual supervision is the most effective way of supporting students.
The key features of this model are:
- It is based on a partnership between the university and social service providers.
- A new role of 'Practice Learning Facilitator' (PLF) was created. The PLF co-ordinates packages of learning opportunities and is also involved in the teaching and assessment of students. S/he is usually an accredited practice teacher and takes direct responsibility for the supervision of a group of students on placement.
- Two local authority social work departments seconded a member of staff to be based in the university as a PLF for the duration of the initial project but now many agencies in the area have employed full time or part time PLFs or practice teachers to undertake this role.
- Student supervision is provided as a combination of a pattern of group and individual supervision with a clear practice curriculum carried out by the PLF but supported very closely with a range of link workers who also offered work based, task specific supervision.
- The student supervision pattern involvesnn
- Weekly - Students meet weekly for case-based supervision with their link worker/s in the placement setting
- Fortnightly - Students attend group supervision (3 hours) every two weeks. This is managed by the PLF but sometimes includes input from academic tutors
- Three weekly - Students attend individual supervision (2 hours) every three weeks with their PLF
- Three joint meetings (student, PLF, link supervisor) are held during the placement and cover pre-placement negotiation, mid point review and final assessment.
Further information on this model is available from Linda Bruce at the Robert Gordon University on email@example.com