Experiences of supervision in the children’s workforce: a pilot study
A pilot study was carried out via a seven-item, online questionnaire; participants (n40) were recruited through facebook and linkedin. The questionnaire was open for 21 days.
Almost two-thirds of respondents are responsible for supervising others as well as receiving supervision themselves. Although respondents overwhelmingly value supervision as important to their carrying out their work (94%) more than a third (37%) do not receive regular supervision. Most respondents who do not receive regular supervision still value it as important for them carrying out their job well. Worryingly, perhaps, the majority of respondents who do not receive regular supervision are working in a regulated sector where supervision is a requirement to meet National Minimum Standards.
Over 80% felt that supervision was important for providing emotional support, and its function in learning and development was valued equally. These qualities are usually associated with clinical supervision and might be expected to be less pronounced in line management arrangements. Given the complexity of the emotional labour and complexity of working with (often vulnerable) children and young people, this is encouraging. Supervision is also widely valued for ensuring tasks are done (about 60%) but only about half of the respondents considered enhanced safeguarding as one of its functions.
When it was part of their job role to provide supervision, respondents overwhelmingly said they had received adequate training , although a small number (6%) said they had not been trained adequately. A small number (12%) responded that they had not been trained sufficiently in receiving supervision, and it is perhaps encouraging that most had.
This is a small scale study, and these data should be treated with some caution. However, as a pilot it introduces some useful themes for further research. Perhaps one of the starkest figures is that over one third of the sample does not receive regular supervision, although it is overwhelmingly valued and in some cases required by National Minimum Standards.
The survey did not enquire into respondents’ emotional experiences of supervision (do they look forward to it, or perhaps dread it). Neither did it examine the contextual factors that influence its regularity. There was no examination of quality of usefulness / outcomes; these are all aspects for further research.