Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual
Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual

2.5 Supervision Policy and Procedure


A comprehensive supervision policy, procedure and practice guidance to assist with the supervision of all Social Care staff working in the Children and Young Person’s Services. This document enables the Department to meet recommendations arising from the Laming Report and the requirements set out in the Health and Care Professions Council Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers in England and the National Care Standards.

While the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) ceased to function in 2012 the materials produced by the CWDC remain relevant to the supervisory function.


This policy document was updated in November 2018.


1. Policy Statement
2. Definition of Supervision
3. The Four Elements of Supervision
  3.1 The Managerial and Accountability Function
  3.2 Workload Management
  3.3 The Development/Educational Function
  3.4 The Supportive Function
  3.5 The Mediation/Advocacy Function
  3.6 The Supervision Agreement
  3.7 Planning Supervision Sessions
  3.8 Carrying Out Supervision
4. Responsibilities in Supervision
5. Frequency of Supervision
6. Professional Standards for Social Workers
7. Recording Supervision
8. Supervision Records
9. Supervision File Retention
  Appendix 1: Anchor Principles for Reflective Supervision
  Appendix 2: Record of Staff Supervision Team Manager
  Appendix 3: Case Discussion Template for Head of Service and Service Manager
  Appendix 4: Record of Staff Supervision Head of Service, Service Manager
  Appendix 5: Liquidlogic Case Discussion SW, FSW, Secondary SW
  Appendix 6: DfE, Standards for Child and Family Practitioners

1. Policy Statement

  • All supervision will meet good practice guidance and be to a consistent standard;
  • The Service is committed to the supervisory process and sees the quality of supervision as having a direct bearing on the quality of services and outcomes for service users;
  • Supervision has an essential role in the effective management of staff performance and practice and is a primary means by which staff are supported and held accountable;
  • Regular, planned and competent supervision is both a right and a requirement for all members of staff working for the service regardless of role or grade. This would include temporary, part or full time staff, volunteers and, where agreed, staff employed by another agency but seconded to, or undertaking work on behalf of, the service;
  • Supervision is an authority relationship in which the dynamics of power and the recognition of difference are crucial. The good practice guidelines set out in this document value people and acknowledge and work with difference. In this way, issues relating to anti-discriminatory practice and equal opportunities should become integral to good practice;
  • All staff will have a named supervisor with whom they will have an explicit arrangement regarding their supervision and a supervision agreement;
  • Supervision will usually be provided by the line manager. If not the task should be delegated to another person with suitable status and relevant experience;
  • The preferred model of supervision, which will apply to the majority of staff in the service, is that of 'one to one'. If this model of supervision is not practicable, group supervision may be acceptable providing that there is recorded evidence that supervisees are periodically offered opportunities for individual supervision;
  • The service will ensure that all supervisors have the necessary skills to supervise and will provide training as appropriate;
  • All staff will have an annual appraisal and whilst supervision and appraisal are distinct activities in their own right, they are also integral to each other and neither can be fully effective in the absence of the other.

2. Definition of Supervision

A broad definition of supervision states that:

'Supervision' is both a process and an activity by which one worker is given responsibility by the organisation to work with another worker(s) in order to achieve certain organisational, professional and personal objectives. These objectives or functions are:

  • Competent, accountable performance/practice

    (Managerial and Accountability);
  • Continuing professional development

  • Personal support

  • Building the relationship between the individual and the organisation

    (Mediation or Advocacy function).

3. The Four Elements of Supervision

Although it is not necessary to have a complete balance of the four functions in each supervision session, it is important not to let any one of them consistently dominate the supervision process. Supervisors and supervisees should monitor any tendency to concentrate on one particular function and think about why this may be happening.

3.1 The Managerial and Accountability Function

This function is concerned with ensuring that the work of the supervisee is carried out to the Directorates expectations and standards by:

  • Ensuring that managers take responsibility for supervising their staff and understand it is an essential part of safeguarding practice;
  • Ensuring that the overall quality of the supervisee's work is monitored
  • Ensuring that supervisees are clear about their roles and responsibilities;
  • Ensuring that supervisees know, understand and follow all Directorate policies, procedures and integrate changes or new developments into their practice;
  • Ensuring that supervisees act in the best interests of service users whenever possible and maintain professional standards;
  • Encouraging supervisees to review their work, with a focus on progressing the care plan and outcomes
  • Agreeing tasks, priorities and timescales for future work;
  • Problem solving, analysis of risk and identifying safety factors and strengths; Scaling the child’s level of safety;
  • Communication of policies and procedures to ensure that key research and findings from inspections, national and local reviews are implemented on a local level in order to improve service delivery;
  • Ensuring that the basis of decisions and professional judgements about practice is clear and made explicit in Directorate records;
  • Ensuring that records are maintained according to Directorate policies.
  • File Audits (in line with the Quality Assurance Strategy);
  • Giving supervisees feedback on their performance, acknowledging and appreciating good performance and identifying and planning how to address areas of under achievement;
  • Ensuring that anti-discriminatory practice and equal opportunities are promoted and integral to the work of all supervisees;
  • Encouraging supervisees to act as positive members of the team and relate appropriately to other agencies;
  • Encouraging supervisees to deal with differences between themselves and colleagues professionally and constructively;
  • Offering professional consultation and advice, or guiding individuals to where such advice can be accessed as appropriate;
  • Communication of Team/Directorate/Council objectives;
  • Identifying resource shortfalls or other constraints that may affect the ability of supervisees to do their work to the standard expected.

3.2 Workload Management

An examination of the key tasks being carried out by the member of staff.

It is expected that all Child Protection cases, Children in Care & Children in Need cases should be discussed at a minimum of once per month with the last visit recorded along with the action agreed.

Cases should be discussed monthly with the Team Manager:

  • Where there are safeguarding concerns;
  • Where there are ongoing assessments of children, carer’s and other family members;
  • Where there are assessments of alternative care arrangements;
  • Where there are cases,  where plans need to be driven in order to achieve permanency;
  • Where there are ongoing care proceedings;
  • Where there is a court order in place in relation to a CIN case e.g. Family Assistance Order, Supervision Order.

Professional judgement needs to be made in relation to other types of cases and those cases can be discussed bi-monthly with the Team Manager and in the month in between with the Senior Practitioner who is a qualifies senior social worker, if for example there is a CIC case where the child is in a permanent care arrangement and is safe, making good progress and settled in placement. In relation to CIN cases, these should be discussed monthly with the Team Manager unless there is clear evidence that the risks have reduced or diminished and at the multi-agency CIN review, all partners have agreed the CIN plan can be stepped down or the case can now be considered for closure. In cases such as these, monthly case supervision will be maintained but bi-monthly with the Team Manager and in between with the Senior Practitioner. The last visit and action agreed should be recorded.

Please not all children’s cases and plans will be discussed monthly without exception, but those de-escalating or very long term settled cases as outlined will have a supervision by a Team Manager then the next month by the Senior Practitioner and then the Team Manager again a month later. One of the advantages in having Senior Practitioners add case oversight in this way is that the Team Manager will have more capacity to focus on the children with more complex needs and risks, but the Senior Practitioner will bring a new perspective and potentially scrutiny to the view to the management of specific settled children’s cases. We are conscious that this potentially provides an opportunity for more oversight and quality assurance in terms of case planning. in all views and assessments of circumstances being settled and stable the source for this assessment should be evidence based and not solely self-reported by adults caring for the child but shown across agencies and in key areas like an absence of injuries, complaints, escalation or risks like going missing.

N.B. This is a guide, practitioners and managers need to use their own discretion when determining the frequency at which a case should be discussed.

Status of Case Frequency of Supervision Comment
CIN - New case or on cusp of child protection/ subject to s.47/ or concerns escalated Monthly with Team Manager  
CIN - assessment ongoing/ assessment of alternative care arrangements Monthly with Team Manager  
CIN - In transition to be stepped across to EH or closed Every 2 months with Team Manager and in between with the Senior Practitioner so there is a monthly case supervision recorded and evident

Senior practitioners to discuss case progress in between supervisions and there is multi-agency agreement that the risks have reduced and all are in agreement that case can be stepped across or closed. This will be recorded on the supervision template.

The Team Manager will review the Senior Practitioner supervision at their next case oversight supervision maintaining management responsibility for the progress, welfare and safety of the child.

CIN - Subject to court order e.g. FAO or Supervision Order Monthly with Team Manager  
CIN – Cases open for NRPF Support Only Every 2 months with Team Manager and in between with the Senior Practitioner so that there is a monthly case supervision recorded and evident After completion of a Children's assessment and case being presented at NRPF panel.  
CIN- Children open to Whole Life Disability Service
  • Where there are safeguarding concenrs this is monthly. Supervision is undertaken by the Team Manager;
  • Where stable cin and subject to regular and effetcive short breaks, supervision is undertaken by the Senior Supervising social worker.

Whole life Disability

It is acknowledge that the focus of work with Disabled Children and their families is often different. Where there are no concerns of a safeguarding nature and families have effective and regular short breaks in place as part of the Graduated approach utilised in respect of the WLD teams work with Disabled Children and their families supervision frequency will be reduced and undertaken by a senior supervising social worker. The level of supervision will be set by the team manager and senior supervising social worker at a level that ensures effective oversight of the services in place and frequency of the social care support in place.

Child Protection Monthly with Team Manager  
Case is in PLO or care proceedings Monthly with Team Manager  
CIC - new admission/new placement/complex issues Monthly with Team Manager  
CIC – with a permanency plan of adoption, SGO, placement with parents or involving a potential move Monthly with Team Manager Drift and delay are harmful and a Team Manager must maintain monthly oversight to drive this plan.
CIC safe and settled in placement and have a permanency plan where no mover or legal change is envisaged with that foster carer or long term in a residential home meeting the child’s needs well Every 2 months with Team Manager and in between with the Senior Practitioner so that there is a monthly case supervision recorded and evident The Team Manager will review the monthly Senior Practitioner at their next case oversight supervision maintaining management responsibility for the progress, welfare and safety of the child.
Care Leavers Every 2 months with Team Manager Statutory visit requirements are every 2 months.
Care Leavers where concerns exist Monthly with Team Manager  

3.3 The Development/Educational Function

The supervisory process is a key element in the continuing professional development and education of staff. The role of the supervisor is to help staff reflect on their current performance, identify development and education needs and plan how these can best be met by:

  • Developing the competence of supervisee's within their role;
  • Helping supervisees identify their theoretical base skills and knowledge;
  • Encouraging supervisees to be explicit about their value base in relation to race, gender etc. and its impact on their work;
  • Encouraging supervisees to adopt a child centred and reflective approach leading to informed actions which aim to improve outcomes for children and families. Developing the skills of self-appraisal and a commitment to continuous improvement;
  • Understanding each supervisee's preferred learning style, blocks to learning and responding to these as appropriate;
  • Giving regular and specific feedback which may be positive or constructively critical, on all aspects of a supervisee's work;
  • Helping supervisees to try new approaches and methods of work as well as integrate changes in policy legislation or practice into their work;
  • Encouraging supervisees to reflect on their interaction with service users, colleagues and other agencies;
  • Identifying educational and development needs and planning a range of ways in which these might be met;
  • Encouraging the giving and getting of feedback about the supervision process itself so that both the supervisor and supervisees can develop their supervisory skills.

3.4 The Supportive Function

The nature of the work carried out in Children's Services can mean that staff are faced with difficult situations, uncertainty and stress. An important function of supervision is to help staff cope with these difficulties by:

  • Valuing supervisees both as people and as professionals;
  • Creating a safe environment within supervision for supervisees to reflect on their practice;
  • Encouraging supervisees to talk about their feelings as well as thoughts and actions;
  • Helping supervisees to explore emotional blocks to their work and how the work impacts upon them;
  • Helping supervisees to explore issues about discrimination in a safe setting;
  • Supporting staff who may be experiencing abuse or harassment;
  • Monitoring the overall health and wellbeing of supervisees especially with regard to stress;
  • Encouraging supervisees to make use of the Directorate's health and staff care provision or external support as appropriate for example promoting the use of Restorative Supervision so staff can access a confidential space to help work through any other issues (excluding work load management issues)
  • Fostering and promoting productive working relationships amongst team members;
  • Encouraging supervisees to be proactive in resolving conflict.

3.5 The Mediation/Advocacy Function

This function is concerned with building the relationship between the individual and the Directorate as an organisation.

  • Representing supervisee's needs and views to senior management;
  • Briefing senior management about resource shortfalls or exercises and their impact on supervisees;
  • Ensuring that resources are allocated in ways that are efficient and equitable including access to training and development opportunities;
  • Ensuring supervisees have up to date information about developments and changes in the Directorate;
  • Involving supervisees in decision making including encouraging them to play an active part in consultation and policy formation when appropriate;
  • Mediating or advocating between staff within the team, with staff in other parts of the Directorate or with outside agencies;
  • Supporting supervisees who may be experiencing abuse, harassment or discrimination within the team, some staff in other parts of the Directorate, from service users or other agencies;
  • Dealing sensitively, but clearly and equitably, with complaints against supervisees.

3.6 The Supervision Agreement

  • There should be a written agreement between each supervisee and each supervisor taking part in one-to-one supervision. The agreement should be developed jointly by the supervisee and the supervisor;
  • The supervision agreement should cover record keeping, confidentiality, expectations from each side, frequency and duration of sessions, circumstances under which supervision can be cancelled, and timescales for rearranging cancelled supervision;
  • Where supervision is done on a group basis, there should be a similar written agreement on the focus and purpose of group supervision, expectations of group members and supervisors, and confidentiality and its limits.

3.7 Planning Supervision Sessions

  • Supervision sessions should take place regularly, following the guidance on frequency in Section 5, Frequency of Supervision;
  • Each session should be arranged in advance;
  • The length of the sessions should be agreed in advance, making sure there is sufficient time for supervision to be adequate;
  • The supervisor and supervisee should each prepare for the session;
  • An agenda for the session should be prepared in advance.

3.8 Carrying Out Supervision

  • Supervision should be held in a private place, free of interruptions;
  • The supervision session should take account of the four functions of supervision described in Section 3, The Four Elements of Supervision;
  • A clear distinction must be made between supervision and capability or grievance procedures, especially when under performance issues are being addressed;
  • Staff may need to consult their supervisor over problems that cannot wait until the next supervision session. If important decisions are reached during 'informal supervision', they must be recorded. Informal supervision should not be allowed to substitute for formal supervision, as the latter covers a broader agenda, e.g. staff development;
  • Both supervisor and supervisee should explore anti-discriminatory practice in relation to the supervisee's work and in relation to the supervision process itself. The supervisor needs to be aware of how issues to do with race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability and class can affect interaction in supervision, and should encourage supervisees to examine their own values, assumptions and beliefs.

4. Responsibilities in Supervision

Supervision sessions should be based on a shared responsibility for:

  • Accepting the requirement to be supervised and accountable;
  • Giving supervision a high priority in the workload;
  • Attending at the agreed time and place;
  • Clarifying expectations of each other through a written agreement for supervision;
  • Having an agreed joint agenda and participating fully;
  • Clarifying and agreeing objectives and standards of practice based on objective outcomes and Directorate guidelines;
  • Identifying evidence that will demonstrate competent practice;
  • Listening attentively;
  • Being open and sharing information;
  • Giving and seeking feedback – praise work well done; affirm and develop skills;
  • Recognising experience and acknowledging contributions;
  • Promoting anti discriminatory practice and behaviour;
  • Reflecting, thinking through and exploring options;
  • Developing action plans;
    1. In respect of current work;
    2. To address areas of work that are not up to the required standard.
  • Timescales for action plans;
  • Implementing action agreed in supervision;
  • Discussing, agreeing and reviewing the supervision agreement at least annually;
  • Discussing feedback on Observed Practices carried out at during the previous month.

The supervisor has a further responsibility to:

  • Encourage a positive attitude to supervision;
  • Work towards creating an open and honest 'learning' environment in supervision;
  • Help the supervisee reflect and analyse any presenting problem;
  • Clarify and summarise both the content and the perceptions of the issues under discussion;
  • Deal with the situation early if there are concerns about the professional competence or behaviour of the supervisee giving specific and concrete example of these concerns;
  • Confront and challenge constructively;
  • Be aware of how issues of anti-discriminatory practice may affect the supervisory relationship;
  • Ensure that supervision does not become solely a workforce management tool;
  • Identify training and development needs and the need to consolidate practice in line with, for example knowledge and skills statements for qualified social workers;
  • Assist with generating solutions and realistic action plans;
  • Avoid running out of time or not facing up to risks/difficult issues.

The supervisee has a further responsibility to:

  • Maintain a competent standard of practice and to seek help and guidance if unable to do so for any reason;
  • Express opinions, disagree where appropriate and to learn from mistakes and be honest if unsure of what to do;
  • Make the supervisor aware of his or her own work and development needs;
  • Be open to feedback both about good practice and areas of concern;
  • Be open to challenge and take responsibility for higher learning and professional development, ensuring he/she keeps up to date with developments in Safeguarding via training and research;
  • Explore alternatives, find solutions and make realistic action plans;
  • Make any disagreements with the record of supervision known;
  • Do what you say you will do – be reliable;
  • Keep the child at the centre of discussions about practice.

Senior managers have a responsibility:

  • To be familiar with the supervision policy and guidelines;
  • To ensure that supervisors and supervisees are fulfilling their responsibilities and that the desired outcomes are being achieved using feedback tools as appropriate.

The Children's Integrated Management Team have a responsibility:

  • To ensure that supervision is given a high work priority, demonstrating their own commitment as required;
  • To assume overall responsibility for ensuring that the process is operating in a way that achieves the desired outcomes; to monitor and evaluate the standard of the supervisory process through the Learning and Improvement Framework.

5. Frequency of Supervision

Staff Frequency
Newly qualified workers Weekly for the first 6 weeks, then Fortnightly up to 6 months. Reverting to monthly thereafter.
Social Workers with 1 yr. experience Monthly
Team Managers Monthly
Residential Home Managers Monthly
Head of Service Monthly
Support Service staff Monthly
Residential Child Care staff Monthly
All other staff groups Monthly

Part time staff should receive adequate and appropriate supervision. The frequency of supervision agreed with the staff member, taking into account the individual's working arrangements and the standard set out above.


Although private, supervision is a management process. Issues raised within supervision may need to be shared with other managers and staff when they concern issues of policy development, poor performance, discipline, adult or child protection and risk management. Other issues may be shared with the agreement of both the supervisor and supervisee. Supervisor and supervisee should be aware of their responsibilities in relation to the protection and use of client information as recommended in the Caldicott principles, which refer to good practice guidelines issued as a result of the General Data Protection Rules / GDPR. If there is any uncertainty about what should/should not be shared the supervisor’s line manager should be consulted for advice.

There will be a shared folder for Team Managers in which to share supervision records. Senior Practitioner’s and Specialists will also have a shared folder for Family Support Workers and other staffing supervision records which managers will be able to access.

There has to be a legitimate need to look at information stored in the electronic supervision files.

Where more sensitive issues are recorded they should be password protected by relevant managers, but even these matters may need to be shared in certain circumstances. Supervisees should make their supervisor aware of any matter they feel is more sensitive.

Senior Managers also require to have access to electronic supervision files in order to carry out file audits.

6. Professional Standards for Social Workers

Work is underway to develop a national assessment and accreditation system for Children’s Social Workers. The system will apply to 3 levels of practice:

  • Approved child and family Practitioner (ACFP);
  • Practice Supervisor (PS);
  • Practice Leader (PL);
  • A review of the Professional Capability Framework (PCF) is also underway at a national level. This will be the over-arching framework for professional development for all children’s social workers. Supervision and appraisals should provide an opportunity to review a supervisee’s professional development against the key components of the PCF and HCPC standards. In addition, supervision should take account of the Knowledge and Skills statement (KSS) published in July 2014 for children’s social workers (See: Appendix 6: DfE, Standards for Child and Family Practitioners). It clearly outlines the need for all Children’s Social Workers to know and be able to do the following:
    • The role of child and family social work;
    • Child development;
    • Adult mental ill health, substance misuse, domestic violence, physical ill health and disability;
    • Abuse and neglect of children;
    • Effective direct work with children and families;
    • Child and family assessment;
    • Analysis, decision making, planning and review;
    • The Law and the family justice system;
    • Professional ethics;
    • The role of supervision and research;
    • Organisational context;

      All of the above should be reflected upon within the supervisory and ADR process.
  • It is important to ensure that documented shared learning in Supervision sessions is entered into the social work learning logs as part of a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) portfolio. This will provide up to date evidence for HCPC professional standards.

7. Recording Supervision

The supervisor should make a supervision record, with a copy provided to the supervisee on the standard forms provided (See Appendix 1 – 3: Record of Supervision). Copies should be signed by both supervisor and supervisee to demonstrate agreement that notes are correct.

Both the supervisor and supervisee should store records securely.

Any decisions made about individual service users and carers during supervision and/or any advice given should also be recorded in the service user’s or carer’s case file and signed and dated by the manager on the Case Discussion Record. (Appendix 5: Liquidlogic Case Discussion SW, FSW, Secondary SW)

The format of the folder will include:

  • Absence Monitoring;
  • Annual Leave;
  • Front Sheet;
  • Management Information;
  • Personal Information;
  • Supervision Notes;
  • Third Party Information, Service Users & Other Employees;
  • Training, Development and Performance Appraisal.

All the relevant documents should be scanned and saved to the appropriate section of the electronic file.

The supervision form should be handwritten and signed by both the Supervisor and the Supervisee and then scanned and saved in the appropriate section.

For supervision records that are typed; at the subsequent supervision both the Supervisor and Supervisee should sign and the document should then be scanned and saved into the appropriate section.

7.1 Additional standards for Managers supervising Social Workers/Family Support Workers

  • The manager will read, review and authorise as appropriate, Social Worker's/Family Support Worker's case recordings/assessments;
  • The manager will record any advice, consultations they give or decisions they make on the case file on the electronic system;
  • If a complaint is received from another agency about the Social Worker/Family Support Worker’s management of a case, their Line Manager will read and review the case file and will respond in accordance with the Departments complaints procedures.

7.2 Additional standards for Social Workers/Family Support Workers:

  • The social worker/Family Support worker will inform the manager of ongoing case issues and seek guidance when necessary.

Any other issues:

This should include issues such as third party discussions, joint supervisions with Family Support Worker or students and or special requirements and or adjustments for supervisee.

8. Supervision Records

All workers will have an individual electronic supervision file. This will contain:

Copy of this checklist to be added to the supervision file by the Supervisor’s line manager following the auditing of supervision records.

The supervisor will provide the supervisee with a copy of the Supervision Policy, Procedures and Practice documentation as part of their induction.

The supervisor will provide the supervisee with a schedule of supervision sessions covering the 12-month period. There is a joint responsibility by both parties to ensure that if a supervision session is cancelled for any reason an alternative session is arranged.

For Children’s Social Care staff, all supervision sessions must be recorded in writing on the standard forms.

Supervisees must be provided with a copy of the supervision record. Both supervisor and supervisee must sign the Supervision Record to confirm it is an accurate reflection of what has been discussed and agreed. Supervision records must be kept in the dedicated and restricted electronic files.

9. Supervision File Retention

The supervision process comprises of two strands. Case Consultation and the general overview of employee performance and professional development and any other areas, which impact on the employee’s ability to complete tasks.

Case Consultation Documents

The case consultation discussion document should be separated from the main supervision document and placed on the relevant child’s case file. Any child specific information should not be stored on the personal section in the supervision file but stored in the section ‘3rd Party information referring to the Service User and other employees’.

These documents will then be subject to the retention guidance relating to child protection, child in need and looked after children.

General Supervision Documentation

Supervision records are stored in a uniform electronic format. The electronic framework is outlined in Section 8 of this policy and should be followed in all cases. The Supervision record will be stored for the duration of the employees’ period of employment and will be accessible to both the supervisor and supervisee as a reference tool.

Supervision File Retention Period

Upon the employee leaving Nottingham City Council their supervision records will be retained electronically for a period of five years, following which, they will be removed and deleted from all systems.


Appendix 1: Anchor Principles for Reflective Supervision

Appendix 2: Record of Staff Supervision Team Manager

Appendix 3: Case Discussion Template for Head of Service and Service Manager

Appendix 4: Record of Staff Supervision Head of Service, Service Manager

Appendix 5: Liquidlogic Case Discussion SW, FSW, Secondary SW

Appendix 6: DfE, Standards for Child and Family Practitioners