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1.7.1 Supervision Policy


The aim of this chapter is to provide a policy framework for one to one supervision of social workers in the specialist Division of the Children’s Services Directorate. The policy has been designed to meet the needs of the service, the staff, and reflect the Social Work Reform Board 2012 recommendations and The Standards for Employers and Supervision Framework. The policies reflected in this chapter will be reviewed within 3 years.


This chapter was updated and amended in November 2016 and has sought to incorporate best practice recommendations from Salford Ofsted inspections and serious case reviews.

This document to be reviewed at a minimum of every three years, after approval; the next review to occur no later than 2019. Incremental reviews may take place, as required.


  1. Introduction
  2. Policy Statement
  3. Definition of Supervision
  4. The Supervision Process
  5. The Supervision Contract
  6. Frequency, Location and Length of Sessions
  7. Recording and Confidentiality
  8. Newly Qualified Social Workers
  9. Post Registration Training and Learning (PRTL)
  10. Supervisors
  11. Additional Arrangements for Providing Clinical / Professional Supervision
  12. Quality Assurance
  13. Complaints

    Appendix A: Supervision Contract between The Supervisee and Supervisor

    Appendix B: Supervision Record

    Appendix C: ICS Supervision Record

    Appendix D: Performance Review Form

    Appendix E: Personal Development Plan

    Appendix F: Individual Work Plan

    Appendix G: Supervision Files

    Appendix H: Supervision Audit Tools

1. Introduction

The aim of this policy is to provide a framework for one to one supervision of social workers in the specialist Division of the Children’s Services Directorate. The policy has been designed to meet the needs of the service, the staff, and recommendations of the Social Work Reform Board 2012 and The Standards for Employers and Supervision Framework. It has also sought to incorporate best practice recommendations from Ofsted inspections and serious case reviews, relevant to Salford.

2. Policy Statement

Supervision is seen as a priority to ensure quality of service to service users, within relevant legislation, practice governance, codes of standards and ethics. Salford City Council is committed to ensuring that social workers in the division receive effective supervision, on a regular basis. Underpinning this process, there are key expectations which the supervision process is expected to meet:

  • Provision of support to the delivery of a quality service, to all service users. It is believed that good quality supervision should improve the social worker’s capacity, confidence, competence and morale, leading to a better service for those receiving the service;
  • That it will address issues relating to individual performance and accountability, (note: this is a wide topic, potentially covering training and staff development, capability, support needs, stress and workload management, personal issues):
    • That it will promote safe working practice, both for addressing issues of risk and vulnerability and lone working practices;
    • That it will promote line management and organisational accountability.
  • That it will identify performance management issues and the measures required to support progress, such as targets, action plans and timescales;
  • That it will act as a tool, supporting the individual’s ability to analyse situations, develop hypotheses and challenge the worker’s own and others’ assumptions, leading to evidence based practice;
  • That it will offer a systematic means of improving recruitment, retention and job satisfaction, identifying and supporting personal learning, career and development opportunities; and
  • Supervision will ensure that professional standards are upheld.

There is an expectation that staff at all levels in the Directorate will be offered this type of one to one meeting, at a frequency negotiated between supervisor and supervisee, reflecting individual need. It is expected, however, that this occurs at a minimum of monthly intervals, except for newly qualified staff who will have supervision every fortnight. This will be provided from their operational manager and their Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) designated mentor.

3. Definition of Supervision

Supervision is an ongoing process in which social care staff receive guidance, support and challenge, in a formal setting, in order to meet organisational, professional and personal objectives and requirements.

4. The Supervision Process

The supervision process includes three main functions:

4.1 Professional Supervision (case supervision)

The line manager’s responsibility for direct work is exercised mainly through the professional case supervision of their supervisees. Effective case supervision will ensure that practitioners are supported to make choices which are in the child’s best interests, that are case managed within the Authority’s policies and procedures and makes best use of resources.

Professional supervision provides an opportunity for supervisors and supervisees to fully examine and reflect on the quality of practice. A major role for the supervisor is to effectively explore with staff their views, observations and assessments, and evidence this, within the case record of supervision. Part of this process is to ensure that workers can:

  • Differentiate between fact and opinion;
  • Demonstrate how they have sought corroboration and / or validation of their assessment;
  • Support their assessment, despite robust challenge and scrutiny;
  • Recognise and reflect on why, in some situations, the worker’s view may be different to that of other professionals working with the family and to give some rationale for this.

Learning lessons from past Serious Case Reviews, it is important that supervision is also used to ensure that the rule of “over optimism” does not impact on overall risk assessment and decision making.

Supervision should reflect on all aspects of the service provided by the social worker, ensuring it is regular, promotes empathy, self evaluation, intellectual enquiry, considering the worker’s feelings and building on competence. Workers also need opportunity to explore their feelings, given that the nature of the social care task may generate strong emotional and moral responses. These need to be acknowledged and processed to ensure they are appropriate to the situation and not generated by personal or organisational dynamics. Supervision can then identify any further required resources to address responses to stressful situations.

4.2 Line Management

Effective line management gives direction, guidance and constructive feedback to the worker, providing opportunity to link individual practice to service wide management objectives. Discussion during supervision should include the overall quality of the supervisee’s performance; the policies and procedures relating to their work (and that these are understood and followed) and the role and responsibilities of the supervisee and that these are clearly understood, thus determining how practice can be improved. Line management affords the opportunity to develop and monitor action plans and targets, along with timescale for achievement. It ensures workloads are effectively allocated, managed and reviewed.

Supervision should help workers to identify and overcome blocks to performance such as work conflicts or other pressures. It must always address capability, disciplinary and grievance issues, with a view to resolving these at the earliest possible stage.

Supervisors have an overall responsibility to the welfare of the staff they manage, having regard to promoting a sense of ‘wellness’ and the use of a preventative approach to dealing with illness. They must recognise diversity and promote anti-discriminatory practice, including addressing the causes and consequences of discrimination and equality.

4.3 Continuing Professional Development

The supervisor is responsible for encouraging and assisting staff in reflecting on their own performance, identifying their learning and development needs and developing plans/ supporting opportunities to address those needs. Constructive feedback and observation of practice should be part of this learning process and formally recorded.

The process will be supported by identifying the worker’s preferred learning style and barriers to learning, which will then be incorporated into the worker’s personal development plan.

New members of staff will be offered an induction programme, relevant to their experience and needs, using the Induction planner, with review dates being recorded on the supervision file. Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW) will complete the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment programme (ASYE). The record will be signed off by both parties when the induction has been completed.

In line with the Divisional Induction policy, it is expected that within the first month of the worker’s commencing employment, the supervisor will complete a supervision history with him/her. This process is designed to explore the worker’s past experience of supervision and, in particular, aspects which were helpful in promoting good practice, as well as those aspects which were not. In so doing, it is believed that potential blocks to effective outcomes can be avoided, particularly in relation to past poor experiences of the process, ‘a telling off,’ interruptions or supervision simply not happening.

At the completion of the probationary period, all staff will be offered a Probation interview at which achievements and learning needs will be discussed. A review report will be completed, by the supervisor, recommending whether the worker has successfully completed the probation period, or not, or whether an extension is required. This report and the outcome agreed by Service Manager will be kept on the supervision file.

5. The Supervision Contract

Central to the policy is the emphasis on the Supervision Contract. (See Appendix A: Supervision Contract between The Supervisee and Supervisor.) Use of the contract applies to all staff and is designed to reflect general core principles, whilst facilitating the capacity, within defined areas, to support individual need. It is expected that the contract will be completed, in a supervision session, either alongside the supervision history or at the subsequent session. It is believed that undertaking this process, early in the developing relationship between supervisor and supervisee, will support a shared understanding of, and commitment to, the supervision process. Furthermore, by having discussion on all areas of the contract, it is believed this will ensure an understanding of:

  • The supervisor’s commitment to offering regular, predictable, protected time and the commitment by both to prepare, attend and share responsibility for making supervision work;
  • An environment in which it is acceptable to learn from mistakes or be unsure; to receive feedback which is constructive and focused, to promote practice which is anti - discriminatory and where openness and honesty are valued;
  • The respective roles and responsibilities of each to the process, particularly when discussing Directorate requirements, accountability, and the need to work towards agreed targets and plans, which will promote the best interests of the service users;
  • The recording of supervision, including where records will be kept, to safeguard confidentiality; and the limits of confidentiality. As a general rule, to help staff feel comfortable in discussing all aspects of their work, there needs to be clarity as to what will happen with information discussed. In most situations, information shared will be confidential within the team (or workplace) and shared externally, with sensitivity and on a ‘need to know’ basis. It is, however, important to record the uses a supervision file may be put to: as an audit of the effectiveness of the supervisor’s practice; as a means of conveying the worker's’s history if they move posts, between teams/parts of the Directorate; potentially, in grievance or disciplinary matters. Discussion will identify whether records will be handwritten or typed, and how quickly records will be given to the supervisee for signature. Note: there is no expectation that electronic records for the child’s file will be recorded during the session, however there is an expectation that recordings are made on the child’s file as per Recording Management Instructions (see, Section 7.2, Recording Management Decisions) of the policy. There is also an expectation that both parties will sign the agreed recording of the supervision;
  • The arrangements for agenda setting (both parties to prepare for supervision) and the commitment to ensure records are read and acted on, as agreed;
  • The arrangements for ad hoc or unplanned supervision;
  • The complaints and review process;
  • And ultimately, to ensure that the supervision process reflects the belief that staff have the right to receive effective and sensitive supervision, to have their experience and contributions acknowledged and to reflect on their practice and contributing to problem solving. (See Appendix B: Supervision Record.)

Each supervision contract will be different and should be regarded as a ’living’ document, evolving in line with the worker’s level of experience, confidence and needs, as well as any changes to this policy. As a minimum, it should be reviewed annually. See Appendix A: Supervision Contract between The Supervisee and Supervisor.

6. Frequency, Location and Length of Sessions

It is expected that supervision meetings will occur at a minimum frequency of monthly, and more frequently for less experienced workers, (see Section 2, Policy Statement and Section 8, Newly Qualified Social Workers). The exception to this being where staff work part time when the frequency is bi-monthly. A further exception is for social work staff within ‘the Bridge’ who do not hold case responsibility. Formal supervision will again occur bi-monthly with an expectation that they attend group supervision every six weeks. Supervisors should also make themselves available to offer advice and guidance outside of the formal arrangements, though this ad hoc arrangement will not replace formal supervision. It is expected that supervision will take place in private. The length of time required will depend on the agenda but a maximum of two hours should suffice, if there is preparation by both and sessions are effectively managed.

7. Recording and Confidentiality

7.1 Format

It is expected that all formal supervisions will be recorded by the supervisor, using the Supervision Record proforma (see Appendix B: Supervision Record). This will be a record of the discussion, the decisions made with timescales and reporting back arrangements. The record needs to be signed, with clear arrangements for recording disagreement. It is also a requirement that issues relating to individual cases are recorded separately and placed on the service user’s file, using the Integrated Children’s System assessment document.

7.2 Recording Management Decisions

It is essential that management decisions are recorded on the child’s file, with timescales, risk analysis and outcomes clearly identified. This is to support the ability to demonstrate how, when and where decisions were made. It does not, however, preclude decisions being made, outside of the formal supervision arena. There are other means in which decisions may be recorded: when managers authorise assessments, such as CAFAS; Child in Need Plan; Care Plan and Statutory Visits. It is also important that informal discussions, which result in decisions being taken, are recorded, by the social worker, within Care First observations. The frequency in which an individual child’s case is discussed will vary, depending on issues such as vulnerability, risk, and timescales for plans and reviews, updated CAFAS: visiting schedules; legal status; and also the social worker’s experiences of specific cases. The frequency should be a management decision influenced by all the above but no less than bi-monthly, other than with the exception of Children with Disability cases, specifically where the only involvement is ‘Short Break’ services and the review is six monthly in line with National guidance and best practice. (See Short Breaks Procedure). Supervision on these cases follows the review. It is an expectation, however, that decisions made in respect of every child will demonstrate management oversight within the child’s records.

In considering the section ‘agreed action plan’, supervisors will be mindful of the need to monitor adherence to timescales. There is an expectation that, should assessments be out of timescale, there will be an action plan addressing any delay and outlining what will be done to rectify the situation. The agreed action plan will also identify frequency of contacts needed to achieve goals, actions required and responsibilities of the worker in delivering the plan.

It is essential that within the record, the voice and experience of children and young people from their perspective is recorded.

7.3 Content

All matters discussed in supervision may be recorded and exceptions cannot be made for particular issues to remain confidential. Matters arising with regard to the following must always be shared and recorded:

  • Issues concerning staff performance and conduct;
  • Performance management (including standards of work);
  • Case issues which need to be shared with colleagues involved;
  • Issues concerning safety of service users and staff;
  • Recordings of observation of practice by manager or other staff;
  • Discussions of reflective supervision sessions;
  • Matters involving legal issues affecting the service or the supervisee;
  • Staffing / Team matters;
  • Discussion of tasks identified in annual appraisal;
  • Attendance, including absence.

The supervisee must have access to the file on request, as well as having signed copies by both parties of all supervision notes.

A sample of supervision files are audited quarterly and are shared with senior managers, these should be used to inform the staff members’ PDP. (See Appendix E: Personal Development Plan) Supervision files are also available to inspectors who may wish to review them as part of the inspection process.

7.4 Storage and Destruction of Supervision Records

Supervision files may be kept as paper files or as electronic versions; in either case the records must be stored securely to ensure that they remain confidential. The supervision file should remain with the supervisor, who should take steps to ensure it is well organised, complete and, if electronic, has a means of recording both the agreement of both supervisor and supervisee.

When an employee leaves the Directorate, the supervision records held by the Supervisor should be kept, for six years. This applies to all staff, including agency/contract staff. When the supervisee transfers to another post within the Directorate, the supervision records need to be retained and follow the staff member. Supervision records should always be passed on when the supervisee remains in post but there is a change of supervisor.

Destruction of files is the responsibility of the line manager. In exceptional circumstances, for example a major restructure, or both the supervisee and supervisor leaving the organisation, it will be necessary to ensure that the files are retrieved from the shared drive and stored by another manager, within the team. Alternatively, the teams may contact central Human Resources to provide advice on this.

8. Newly Qualified Social Workers

The Children’s Workforce Development Council stipulates the following in relation to supervision for Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW):

  • Supervisors should be experienced, have had training on supervising staff and meet their organisation’s requirements to supervise staff;
  • Supervision should be held, at minimum, for 90 minutes on a two-weekly basis during the first six months of work as a newly qualified worker or on joining the ASYE programme and weekly for the first six weeks;
  • Supervision can reduce to monthly meetings following this period;
  • Supervision needs to allow time and opportunities to consider progress against the Outcome Statements laid down by CWDC for Newly Qualified Social Workers. Ticking off a Records of Achievement form, as work is explored in supervision provides a clear pathway to meet each Outcome Statement;
  • The supervisor and the NQSW must agree the agency’s Supervision Contract and a professional development plan. The PDP will be reviewed from time to time over the first year following qualification. Supervision records must detail: a case discussion, organisational matters and personal training and development and must address these issues on each occasion. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to complete supervision records and review records.

In Salford, we will ensure the CWDC requirements are met by providing a minimum of fortnightly supervisions during the first six months, followed by the required Salford minimum of monthly. Social work teams may also identify an Advanced Practitioner to share supervision, offering support and mentoring during the first year of post qualification. This is in addition to the guidance offered by the NQSW support co - ordinator.

Early Professional Development (EPD) for Social Workers

The EPD programme builds on, and is similar to, the ASYE programme. It is based on six EPD outcome statements; social workers completing the programme are expected to meet these outcome statements within two years. The EPD programme is designed to help social workers develop into more confident and autonomous professionals. There is an expectation that as they move from NQSW to EPD the complexity of cases they deal with will gradually increase and that they will take greater responsibility for meeting their own professional development. In addition social workers are expected to receive two hours a month of supervision that is purely focused on professional development and to complete 15 days of learning and development over the two years.

9. Post Registration Training and Learning (PRTL)

In order to meet the criteria for continued registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), expect that every qualified social worker follow the Standards of Proficiency (SOPS). They set out clear expectations of social worker’s knowledge and abilities when they start practicing. The work to set the standards of proficiency for social workers in England developed alongside the work of the Social Work Reform Board. One outcome of the Reform Board, the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF), is now managed by the British Association of Social Work ( BASW). The PCF describes the capabilities required of social workers at all stages of their career, whilst the SOP’s set out what a social worker must know, understand and be able to do when they start practicing for the first time.

Every social worker registered with the HCPC must keep a record of Post Registration Training and Learning undertaken. Employers have a responsibility to support social workers to meet these requirements and it is expected that supervisors will provide support by enabling the social worker to access study and training opportunities and will monitor progress in supervision.

10. Supervisors

Supervisors of Social Care staff should as soon as possible after appointment undertake appropriate training to enable them to carry out their supervisory role. Appropriate training includes:

  • Practice Educators training;
  • Enabling Learning module of the Specialist Post Qualifying Award;
  • Salford in house training on risk analysis and positive supervision;
  • Salford first line manager’s training;
  • In house training on human resources policies.

Supervisors should also undertake supervision for safeguarding training, and supervision refresher training as available and appropriate.

Supervisors must ensure that their supervision covers all the functions of supervision as set out in Section 4, The Supervision Process, with a focus on ensuring a high quality service for children and families who use children’s social care services.

11. Additional Arrangements for providing Clinical / Professional Supervision

There are groups of staff within the Directorate who have either been employed by a partnership agency or have operational managers from a different professional background. Whilst line management supervision will always address issues of operational accountability, the Directorate has been keen to ensure systems are in place to support continued professional development and high standards of clinical practice. This would also be in accordance with national guidance from the individual’s own professional body. There are various means by which this support will be provided:

  • Clinical supervision can be offered via one to one sessions, where guidance on interventions can be given an opportunity to reflect on effectiveness of the plan. The frequency of such sessions will vary, dependent on need. Such is the case with the programme manager of the 3D service, who offers clinical supervision to staff on a weekly basis; or
  • Professional supervision can be provided, again in a one to one meeting with a manager from the individual’s service, to ensure support within their discipline and that their professional training needs are identified and met. It is expected that such supervision would take place, at a minimum of four times per year and would be have, as a main agenda item, the steps via training or practice the individual needs to make to retain registration with their appropriate professional body.

12. Quality Assurance

In order to be effective, the supervision process requires monitoring and quality assurance arrangements. The quality assurance process ensures that:

  • The standards of supervision as outlined in this policy are being followed;
  • Staff are being supervised professionally and effectively;
  • Supervision sessions are being recorded;
  • Individual Supervision Agreements are being developed, reviewed and used;
  • That the supervision process promotes equal opportunities and anti- discriminatory practice.

The quality assurance arrangements involve:

  • The auditing of a random selection of worker supervision files on a quarterly basis by managers, to inform Team managers’ PDP, supervision training needs and ensure supervision processes are compliant with policy;
  • The quality of the supervision record on a child’s file, in addressing the areas outlined within the policy and in particular, the case discussion, the analysis of risk, agreed action plans with identified timescales and contingencies where appropriate.

See Appendix H: Supervision Audit Tools.

13. Complaints

Supervisees should be clear about whom they should contact if they feel the terms of their supervision agreement are not being met. How supervisees make a complaint and who to (named manager) should be included in the Individual Supervision Agreement.

Supervisees should always discuss any complaints or dissatisfaction in the first instance with their supervisor and endeavour to reach an agreement within the normal supervision process.

If the complaint cannot be resolved by discussion with the supervisor the supervisee should raise the issue with their supervisor’s manager.

(See also Comments, Complaints and Compliments, Whistleblowing guidelines in Related Guidance.)


Appendix A: Supervision Contract between The Supervisee and Supervisor

Appendix B: Supervision Record

Appendix C: ICS Supervision Record

Appendix D: Performance Review Form

Appendix E: Personal Development Plan

Appendix F: Individual Work Plan

Appendix G: Supervision Files

Appendix H: Supervision Audit Tools