A good fit: the contribution of action learning to supervision practice


Patterson F (2017) A good fit: the contribution of action learning to supervision practice. Social Work Education, 36 (1), pp. 48-61.

This paper discusses the value of action learning for social work supervisors. Recent years have seen renewed focus on supervision as a reflective space and some indications that the tide may be turning in regard to the dominance of managerial priorities within the supervision of direct practice. It is less evident that a similar shift is taking place for supervisors themselves and, anecdotally, many describe their own supervision as having a business focus with limited scope for reflective dialogue. While the traditional functions of supervision need to adapt to fit the responsibilities of those in management positions, it remains true that these staff provide a vital containing role within the organisational hierarchy. For that to be sustained, it is important that supervisors have space and structure within which to process the emotional, intellectual and practical challenges of their work. The integration of action learning sets within post-qualifying courses for supervisors has demonstrated a useful dual function. Firstly, they provide an effective model for group supervision, facilitating in-depth reflection on complex practice issues. Secondly, they offer managers a peer supervision forum; a safe place to explore dilemmas and share the vulnerabilities which belong to management roles as well as practice.

Supervision; action learning; reflective practice; management; peer supervision; professional development

Social Work Education: Volume 36, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2017
Publication date online20/10/2016
Date accepted by journal07/10/2016
PublisherTaylor and Francis