“Asking the ‘dumb’ questions”.

An evaluative survey of reflective supervision with statutory child protection social workers.


  • Matt Rankine University of Auckland
  • Andrew Thomson Social Workers Registration Board




Supervision, social work, child protection, critical reflection


INTRODUCTION: Reflective social work supervision is essential to professional development, building resilience and client work. However, in child protection, supervision is preoccupied with managing risk and meeting outcomes at the expense of analysis and critical reflection. Oranga Tamariki (OT), the statutory child protection organisation in Aotearoa New Zealand, has recently been scrutinised for poor supervisory practice. The authors worked alongside OT social work supervisors and supervisees to explore ways to generate resilience, learning, self-awareness and develop practices that support reflective capability and well-being in supervision.

METHODS: This article presents data from the pre/post online evaluation of an action research intervention study with OT supervisors and supervisees. The aim of the online survey was to measure participants’ supervision practices, and the extent to which perceptions of confidence, reflection, professional learning and resilience improved.

FINDINGS: The findings are reported from key areas within OT supervision: the frequency of supervision sessions, the functions of supervision, engagement in reflection, supervision- changing practice, resilience and longevity in social work careers and the supervision of supervisors.

CONCLUSIONS: The results from the survey showed social workers had increased confidence as they built reflective capacity, resiliency and improved their supervision practice. The study identified the importance of developing learning spaces that enhance reflective supervision for supervisors and supervisees in child protection.


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How to Cite

Rankine, M., & Thomson, A. (2022). “Asking the ‘dumb’ questions”.: An evaluative survey of reflective supervision with statutory child protection social workers. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(1), 55–71. https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol34iss1id904



Original Articles