My name is Lisa Thornton and I am a Practice Supervisor with Lincolnshire County Council. I am currently on a secondment in learning and development through funding from the South Yorkshire Teaching Partnership. I attended the Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP) pilot as I was new to my post and our authority was keen to see what this looked like and how we could benefit.
The PSDP is made up of:
- Five days of face-to-face teaching (day one-two and day three-four include an overnight stay with food and accommodation in a hotel so Practice Supervisors have space away from busy practice settings and a chance to network).
- Three small group practice development sessions that start after day two of the teaching days and are completed four-five weeks after the end of the taught programme. These are a chance for small groups of about six-eight Practice Supervisors to meet together to discuss practice dilemmas and their learning in regional groups.
- Two 1:1 individual reflective development sessions, facilitated by a member of the teaching team on the programme, so that Practice Supervisors have individual time to reflect on their learning and how they can put this into practice.
My focus for this blog is the reflective one-to-one development sessions that were offered as a follow up from the PSDP. Prior to the first meeting, there was the expectation for me to review my individual development plan that I had completed as part of the programme. This gave me the opportunity to revisit goals that sometimes, if we are not mindful, can become good intentions.
The approach in the sessions was similar to that taken during the programme – focusing both on my developmental needs, as well as the context and wider system, and the way this all works together.
One of the really helpful aspects of the development sessions was that they were conducted through Zoom, which is a form of video conferencing that was easily accessible, making them time efficient. I have met with my consultant on two occasions, with each session lasting for an hour. The initial consultation covered background information – my role in organisation, length of time as a Practice Supervisor etc. We then went on to some of the key learning points from the programme and how I was being able to put this into practice. I had had the chance to look at the material from the programme and had put together some of this to use as part of our Practice Supervisor network meetings. I am also looking at the possibility of lunchtime learning sessions where again this material could be used. I was particularly impressed by the way that all of the material was linked to the Knowledge and Skills Statements, so again this is supporting practitioners to evidence best practice.
I have used aspects of some of the material in group supervision sessions, such as The Supervision Cycle (Morrison, 2005), where we were able to talk about the importance of reflection and what can happen if there is a ‘quick fix’. This fits in well with using Signs of Safety as far as considering hypotheses and then again links in with the importance of thinking about the impact of bias.
The consultation hopefully has the benefits of it being a two-way process, as it gave me the opportunity to reflect on the programme and my intentions, but also feeding information back to Research in Practice and the PSDP team as far as what is being used from the pilot. This allows this information to guide the programme to evolve. It also gives the added dimension in that the consultant has full knowledge of the programme and so is able to explore certain areas that might not be captured from regular supervision from your organisation.
The second consultation that I had again allowed me the opportunity to look at where I had got to, what I was finding useful, what challenges I had come up against and more importantly, ideas and ways to overcome these. Again this reinforced some of the key messages from the programme including the links between what is happening within the organisation, how this impacts on the practitioner, and the direct impact of all of this for the children and families that we work with. Remembering most importantly what came from the Children's Workforce Development Council: ‘Many supervisors punch above their organisational weight, frequently having a much greater influence on staff and practice than they think.’
I have really valued these as an opportunity to have that safe space to reflect on my learning and keep myself on track with some helpful guidance and direction and would see it as an efficient, essential and effective part of the programme. Seize the opportunity and you will reap the benefits!