By: amy bishop
Author: Gillian Ruch
I’m writing this on my return journey from a work-related trip to Norway. A few days before the trip I had slipped on an icy stretch of pavement near my home and so wondered how I would cope in snowy Oslo. Hearing my concern my colleague and Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP) co-facilitator, who had recently broken her ankle falling down some stairs and was receiving physiotherapy for it, passed on advice she had been given – that in wintry conditions we need to walk ‘more like a penguin’. Well you can imagine the number of YouTube clips of penguins that have been exchanged since this advice was dispensed! My favourite to date being this one: https://youtu.be/hfkppNc_8rM.
Whilst telling this story to my Norwegian colleagues, they told me about a current controversy in Norway about young children in pre-school settings being made to wear spike attachments over their winter boots to prevent them from slipping over. The controversy about this practice, I was told, is that given Norwegians learn to walk in snowy conditions from their first steps, they consequently develop walking styles and reflexes that recognise how to respond when they slip. Indeed, quite independently, on the same day, in the course of a conversation with a coffee shop barista from the Philippines, he offered the same observation to me – Norwegians know how to walk in icy conditions.
So what has this got to do with the PSDP you may well ask? As one of two facilitators delivering the programme to the first South East cohort, I have had the privilege to work with Practice Supervisors from a wide range of local authorities, varying in size, practice approaches and Ofsted ratings. A golden thread running through the PSDP is a commitment to relationship-based, reflective approaches to professional development, which offer safe experiential spaces to explore all aspects of the Practice Supervisor role and identity. As facilitators, therefore, we have placed importance on modelling ourselves behaviours and practices that are congruent with the Practice Supervisor role and in our sessions we find ourselves making frequent mentions to parallel processes, i.e. that how we relate to each other and manage ourselves in the PSDP sessions has close parallels with the dynamics and relationships between Practice Supervisors, supervisees and practice supervisors teams. For the PSDP team members responsible for devising the curriculum, this pedagogic practice of parallel process and experience-led learning and development has been a paramount consideration in its design and content.
For those reading this blog who are less familiar with the structure of the programme, it is delivered over five whole days with days one and two, and three and four, delivered over two day residential blocks. It has been a pleasure as facilitators to be able to spend time altogether with participants, within and out with the ‘official’ sessions and to be part of an emergent community of practice as group members talk together in sessions and over breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have learnt to be with each other personally and professionally, mirroring the personal and professional dimensions of the practice supervisor role. As a Practice Supervisor, we suggest, it is not possible to separate out personal histories and life experiences from how the role of Practice Supervisor is taken up and enacted in everyday practice. So one of the programmes core aims to create ‘communities of practice’ is beginning to be realised.
One of the exercises participants undertook on day one was to draw a lifeline that explores their journey into social work and particularly how their experiences of power and authority in their personal and professional lives has influenced how they exercise these qualities in their new role. The exercise proved to be an insightful experience, reminding them of their personal trajectories into the Practice Supervisor role and importantly the values that have been and remain integral to their life choices. Furthermore, the exercise undoubtedly forged bonds as people dared to honestly share their stories. When asked what they would be taking away from the first two days to ‘try out’ in their work settings, several participants said that they would introduce the lifeline exercise into supervision to help them get to know their supervisees better.
So, coming full circle, our experiences of the PSDP to date suggest that it is having a significant impact on how the participants are ‘finding their feet’ and developing more secure footings in their new roles. Indeed, they are learning to ‘be more Practice Supervisor’. And as the Practice Supervisors are beginning to authentically embody these new identities they are also learning how to be supportive of each other. Having discovered that the collective term for a group of penguins on land is a ‘waddle’ (for information, on the ocean the equivalent term is ‘a raft’), might we re-phrase the PSDP aim mentioned earlier – the creation of ‘communities of practice’ – to the creation of ‘waddles of Practice Supervisors’?
Gillian Ruch is a facilitator for the Practice Supervisor Development Programme and Professor of Social Work and works in the Department of Social Work and Social Care at the University of Sussex.
The Practice Supervisor Blog
https://practice-supervisors.rip.org.uk/ is a subsidiary site operated by The Dartington Hall Trust (“We”). We are registered in England and Wales as a company (1485560) and charity (279756) and have our registered office at Elmhirst Centre, Dartington Hall, Dartington, Totnes TQ9 6EL. Our VAT number is 402196875.
Access to our site is permitted on a temporary basis, and we reserve the right to withdraw or amend the service we provide on our site without notice (see below). We will not be liable if for any reason our site is unavailable at any time or for any period.
When using our site, you must comply with the provisions of our “acceptable use policy” (below). You are responsible for making all arrangements necessary for you to have access to our site. You are also responsible for ensuring that all persons who access our site through your internet connection are aware of these terms, and that they comply with them.
Organisations can subscribe to our service and members of the subscribing organisation will be provided with a user login and password.
As a guest of the site you may print off one copy, and may download extracts, of any page(s) from our site for your personal reference and you may draw the attention of others within your organisation to material posted on our site.
As a registered user, you may print off multiple copies and may download multiple documents. These documents must only be used internally within the subscribing organisation to support your work. You must not pass on any part of the materials on our site to third parties and you must not use any part of the materials on our site for commercial purposes without obtaining a licence to do so from us or our licensors.
Either as a guest or a registered user, you must not modify the paper or digital copies of any materials you have printed off or downloaded in any way, and you must not use any illustrations, photographs, video or audio sequences or any graphics separately from any accompanying text. Our status (and that of any identified contributors) as the authors of material on our site must always be acknowledged.
All Research in Practice (RiP) trademarks, service marks, trade names, logos, domain names, and any other features of the RiP brand are the sole property of RiP. We are the owner or the licensee of all intellectual property rights in our site, and in the material published on it. Those works are protected by copyright laws and treaties around the world. All such rights are reserved.
Our site changes regularly
We aim to update our site regularly, and may change the content at any time. If the need arises, we may suspend access to our site, or close it indefinitely. Any of the material on our site may be out of date at any given time, and we are under no obligation to update such material.
The material displayed on our site is provided without any guarantees, conditions or warranties as to its accuracy. To the extent permitted by law, we, other members of our group of companies and third parties connected to us hereby expressly exclude:
This does not affect our liability for death or personal injury arising from our negligence, nor our liability for fraudulent misrepresentation or misrepresentation as to a fundamental matter, nor any other liability which cannot be excluded or limited under applicable law.
Contracts for the supply of goods, services or information formed through our site or as a result of visits made by you are governed by our “terms and conditions of supply” (below).
Uploading material to our site
Whenever you make use of a feature on our site that allows you to upload material to our site, or to make contact with other users of our site, you must comply with the content standards set out in our “acceptable use policy” (below). You warrant that any such contribution does comply with those standards, and you indemnify us for any breach of that warranty.
Any material you upload to our site will be considered non-confidential and non-proprietary, and we have the right to use, copy, distribute and disclose to third parties any such material for any purpose.
We will not be responsible, or liable to any third party, for the content or accuracy of any materials posted by you or any other user of our site.
We have the right to remove any material or posting you make on our site if, in our opinion, such material does not comply with the content standards set out in our acceptable use policy (below).
Viruses, hacking and other offences
You must not misuse our site by knowingly introducing viruses, trojans, worms, logic bombs or other material which is malicious or technologically harmful. You must not attempt to gain unauthorised access to our site, the server on which our site is stored or any server, computer or database connected to our site. You must not attack our site via a denial-of-service attack or a distributed denial-of service attack.
By breaching this provision, you would commit a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. We will report any such breach to the relevant law enforcement authorities and we will co-operate with those authorities by disclosing your identity to them. In the event of such a breach, your right to use our site will cease immediately.
We will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by a distributed denial-of-service attack, viruses or other technologically harmful material that may infect your computer equipment, computer programs, data or other proprietary material due to your use of our site or to your downloading of any material posted on it, or on any website linked to it.
Linking to our site
You may link to our home page, provided you do so in a way that is fair and legal and does not damage our reputation or take advantage of it, but you must not establish a link in such a way as to suggest any form of association, approval or endorsement on our part where none exists.
You must not establish a link from any website that is not owned by you.
Our site must not be framed on any other site, nor may you create a link to any part of our site other than the home page. We reserve the right to withdraw linking permission without notice. The website from which you are linking must comply in all respects with the content standards set out in our acceptable use policy (below).
If you wish to make any use of material on our site other than that set out above, please address your request to email@example.com.
Links from our site
Where our site contains links to other sites and resources provided by third parties, these links are provided for your information only. We have no control over the contents of those sites or resources, and accept no responsibility for them or for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of them.
Jurisdiction and applicable law
The English courts will have non-exclusive jurisdiction over any claim arising from, or related to, a visit to our site although we retain the right to bring proceedings against you for breach of these conditions in your country of residence or any other relevant country.
RESEARCH IN PRACTICE, RESEARCH IN PRACTICE FOR ADULTS and REASON are registered trade marks of The Dartington Hall Trust.
You may use our site only for lawful purposes. You may not use our site:
You also agree:
We may from time to time provide interactive services on our site, including, without limitation:
Where we do provide any interactive service, we will provide clear information to you about the kind of service offered, if it is moderated and what form of moderation is used (including whether it is human or technical).
We will do our best to assess any possible risks for users (and in particular, for children) from third parties when they use any interactive service provided on our site, and we will decide in each case whether it is appropriate to use moderation of the relevant service (including what kind of moderation to use) in the light of those risks. However, we are under no obligation to oversee, monitor or moderate any interactive service we provide on our site, and we expressly exclude our liability for any loss or damage arising from the use of any interactive service by a user in contravention of our content standards, whether the service is moderated or not.
The use of any of our interactive services by a minor is subject to the consent of their parent or guardian. We advise parents who permit their children to use an interactive service that it is important that they communicate with their children about their safety online, as moderation is not foolproof. Minors who are using any interactive service should be made aware of the potential risks to them.
Where we do moderate an interactive service, we will normally provide you with a means of contacting the moderator, should a concern or difficulty arise.
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (Contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
Contributions must not:
Suspension and termination
We will determine, in our discretion, whether there has been a breach of this acceptable use policy through your use of our site. When a breach of this policy has occurred, we may take such action as we deem appropriate.
We exclude liability for actions taken in response to breaches of this acceptable use policy. The responses described in this policy are not limited, and we may take any other action we reasonably deem appropriate.
Changes to the acceptable use policy
We may revise this acceptable use policy at any time by amending this page. You are expected to check this page from time to time to take notice of any changes we make, as they are legally binding on you. Some of the provisions contained in this acceptable use policy may also be superseded by provisions or notices published elsewhere on our site.
If you have any concerns about material which appears on our site, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for visiting our site.