An evaluation of the first year of operation of RPGs for practitioners across Brighton and Hove local authority children’s social work services

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About the project

Reflective Practice Groups (RPGs) are designed to help social workers to think and learn about their work and to gain support from their colleagues. This project is an evaluation of the first year of operation of RPGs for practitioners across Brighton and Hove local authority children’s social work services. It looked at whether social workers there find such groups useful and what difference they might make.


The evaluation approach comprised survey, semi-structured interviews, observations and focus groups. Survey data were analysed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis employed for analysis of qualitative data.


RPGs were associated with a range of positive emotional and organisational/professional impacts, as well as with an enhanced capacity for reflection and thoughtful practice. Not all participants reported positive outcomes, with some groups failing to achieve ‘deeper level’ reflection, which could cause frustration. Poor attendance was highlighted as an important barrier because it limited the development of trust and safety within groups.

The findings are of practical relevance to UK and international social work practice and policy. Theoretically, the published findings advance the field by defining the model employed and linking outcomes to process. 

Further research

Future research could further strengthen the evidence base by incorporating relevant quantitative scales, investigate links with service user experience and compare processes/outcomes of different models of RPG.

Contact details

Principal Investigator: Dr Amanda Lees, Senior Researcher, Health and Wellbeing Research Group


The project was funded by the Centre for Social Work Practice. Visit the CSWP website


  • Invited presentation 14 March ‘18 ‘The Containing Organisation: an evaluation of reflective practice groups within local authority children’s services’ Exchange Spring Conference 2018 – Is Supervision Working? Supporting Happier Staff, Improved Practice and Better Outcomes
  • Invited presentation 9 May ‘18 ‘Resilience and Identity: a role for reflective practice groups?’ Practice Learning Conference East Anglia Ruskin University Resilience – Focussing on practitioner experience and Celebrating Identity.
  • Invited keynote presentation: 18 May ‘18 ‘Reflective Practice Groups, processes and outcomes’ CfSWP AGM, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust
  • Amanda is a member of the steering group for the 5 July ‘18 Researching Reflective Practice Network inaugural meeting, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust


Lees A. (2017) Evaluation of Reflective Practice Groups Project: Brighton & Hove Children’s Services. London. Centre for Social Work Practice Report

Lees A. (subm.) The containing organisation? An evaluation of the processes and outcomes of reflective practice groups in a children’s social work service