Group supervision for supervisors initiative

Published: June 20, 2024

The Group Supervision for Supervisors (GSS) initiative was piloted in 2023. The evaluation report supports the future implementation of group supervision and adds to the wider knowledge base of professional social work supervision.


The Supervision Survey 2021 revealed that social work supervisor role at Oranga Tamariki is challenging and there are supervisors in the role who feel ill-prepared and unsupported to undertake their critical practice function. The Ministerial Advisory Board (MAB) identified the need to urgently provide support to supervisors to lift supervision access and quality.

Group Supervision for Supervisors was developed in response to MAB’s request. The initiative was piloted in Te Tai Tokerau, Bay of Plenty, East Coast and Lower South. It ran for 6 months and included 89 supervisors across 16 supervision groups. Each group was co-facilitated by two supervisors, at least one of which was external to Oranga Tamariki.

Key findings

The evaluation was positive over-all and participating supervisors requested that group supervision continue.

Key findings were that group supervision:

  • Promoted biculturalism, and learning and development that could directly transfer into a supervisor’s own supervision with social workers.
  • Helped supervisors feel valued and heard.
  • Enabled tuakana and teina roles.
  • Provided benefits from having a supervisory lens that is external to Oranga Tamariki.
  • Supported supervisors to form relationships and connections with others, reducing organisational silos.

There were issues with attendance for the pilot. Primary factors that impacted on attendance included a lack of communication and understanding about the GSS pilot, unsuitable scheduling times of sessions, and workload pressures. These findings can inform changes required to support a future delivery of group supervision.

With regards to workload pressures preventing attendance, this issue highlights that supervision (whether individual or group), must be valued and prioritised, with protected time set aside for attendance. In valuing supervision in this way, Oranga Tamariki can realise the benefits of supervision being a central mechanism for promoting kaimahi ora (whole of person wellbeing), mahi ora (work environments that are relational, inclusive, and restorative) and whānau ora (tamariki and children in the context of whakapapa).

Next steps

The evaluation report makes the following recommendations:

  • Continue group supervision as a beneficial mode of supervision for supervisors.
  • Maintain group configuration to promote learning and connections.
  • Supervision must be prioritised by supervisors and supported by sites.
  • MyLearn is a suitable platform to support logistical arrangements.
  • Offer scheduled options for sessions, with supervisors being able to ‘book’ into a group schedule that suits them.
  • Provide more information and resources to supervisors about group supervision and the Tangata Whenua and Bicultural Supervision model.
  • Build an understanding of wider internal supervisory capability and capacity.