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LutonChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Supervision Guidance


This policy updates the existing supervision policies across the Directorate and merges them into a single document.


In September 2018, this chapter was extensively updated in particularly in relation to Family Safeguarding Teams.


  1. Policy Rationale
  2. Scope of the Policy
  3. Definition of Supervision
  4. Formal, Informal and Ad-hoc (consultation) Supervision
  5. Minimum Frequencies and Duration
  6. The Individual Supervision Agreement
  7. Roles and Responsibilities
  8. Record of Supervision
  9. Quality Control
  10. Supervision Tools: Appendices

    Appendix 1: The Five Functions of Supervision

    Appendix 2: Individual Supervision Agreement

    Appendix 3: Record of Supervision and Action Plan

    Appendix 4: Supervision File Structure and Index

1. Policy Rationale

The policy sets out the Children Learning and Young People Directorate's commitment to providing quality support and supervision to all members of staff who have a significant role in working with children and young people.

The Directorate aims to provide appropriate, responsive and flexible services for the most vulnerable citizens of Luton and can only do this if staff understand what is expected of them, have the skills, knowledge, behaviours, values and attitudes necessary to carry out their role and are fully supported in their work and managed effectively.

Supervision is one of the ways that this can be achieved. This policy sets out how staff can expect to be supervised and provides managers with the key elements needed to supervise staff effectively.

It should be read alongside the relevant guidance and procedures of Luton Borough Council:

  • Understand the value of critical reflection for practice and the need to record the outcomes of such reflection appropriately;
  • Recognise the value of supervision, case reviews and other methods of reflection and review;
  • Use supervision to support and enhance the quality of their social work Code of Conduct.

2. Scope of the Policy

This policy provides a framework for supervision for all staff (whether they are permanent, temporary or agency) working for Luton Borough Council in Children’s Services.

Each service within the Directorate should have a supervisory / one to one system in place that is accessible to the professional and reflects practice needs as it is recognised that each service or, role will have differing needs. However the principles of this policy will be adhered to.

This policy also provides details of the supervision process for Family Safeguarding Teams, where different arrangements are in place.

3. Definition of Supervision

Supervision refers to part of a participative process whereby managers / supervisors ensure that employees are performing their role to a satisfactory standard, and have the appropriate support and training to do so in accordance with the policy and procedures of the Luton Borough Council.

The Children's Workforce Development Council definition states that:

‘Supervision is an accountable process which supports, assures and develops the knowledge, skills and values of an individual, group or team. The purpose is to improve the quality of their work to achieve agreed objectives and outcomes.’ Providing Effective Supervision, CWDC (2007).

Supervision can be provided in a variety of ways but in the main is a regular one-to-one meeting between the supervisor and the supervisee in order to meet organisational, professional and personal objectives. Supervision forms a key part of individual performance management.

Supervision underpins the Approved and Supported Year in Employment and Early Professional Development Programmes and is the foundation on which appraisal is built. It is an opportunity for staff to talk face-to-face with their supervisors to influence their own development and that of the service, and to receive support and encouragement in doing so.

Supervision should form part of day to day staff support and will vary according to the roles and responsibility of each professional. Effective supervision performs five key functions (see, Appendix 1: The Five Functions of Supervision):

  • Management (ensuring competent and accountable performance/practice);
  • Development (continuing professional development);
  • Support (supportive/restorative function);
  • Engagement/mediation (engaging staff with the organisation and representing the organisation to staff);
  • Reflection on and learning from practice.

The purpose of supervision is to:

  • Improve the quality of services to children, young people, families and carers and achieve better outcomes for children and young people;
  • Ensure the supervisee is clear about roles and responsibilities;
  • Offer guidance and support in relation to work with individual cases;
  • Identify gaps in learning;
  • Provide space for case discussions;
  • Encourage critical reflection;
  • Facilitate performance management;
  • Contribute to workers’ emotional resilience by their feeling valued, supported and motivated;
  • Deepen and broaden workers’ skills and knowledge;
  • Undertake administrative functions.

4. Formal, Informal and Ad-hoc (Consultation) Supervision

Formal supervision sessions are normally held on a planned one-to-one basis. If a manager decides to arrange group supervision sessions, these should not replace one-to-one sessions to which the supervisee has a right.

In Family Safeguarding Teams, group case supervision is used to oversee cases and make management decisions. Individual practitioners are then provided with one-to-one supervision to reflect on and support their performance, professional development and emotional resilience.

There may be discussions and decisions about daily work issues, problems arising, or changes in policies and procedures that emerge in group meetings and informal, unplanned or ‘ad-hoc’ discussions. When decisions have been made in between formal supervision sessions, the worker and the supervisor must ensure that key decisions made with regard to a service user are clearly recorded on the service user’s record.

5. Minimum Frequencies and Duration

The duration and frequency of supervision sessions will depend on the setting, type of work involved, the experience and expertise of the worker and current operational considerations.

In Family Safeguarding teams, every case held be the team should be the subject of group case supervision every month. Staff in these teams then receive one-to-one supervision in line with the policy below.

For one-to-one supervision for all staff:

  • The normal frequency is every 4 weeks and no less than six-weekly;
  • Sessions should be between 1½  and 2 hours in duration;
  • All staff should receive a minimum of 10 supervision sessions per year.

No staff member should go without a supervision session for more than two months. It is the responsibility of the line manager, the supervisor and the supervisee to ensure this does not occur.

There is some flexibility in order to take account of individual circumstances and operational needs and additional guidance, for example increased frequency for newly qualified social workers (ASYE’s) and Luton Borough Council standards, or less frequent for administrators. When agreeing frequency, supervisors will assess individual requirements such as or where deadlines, targets or quality is of concern or where the supervisee requires more support or development, however as stated above, this is the minimum expectation.

This should be clearly discussed and agreed by supervisor and supervisee to avoid any suggestion that a particular member of staff is being singled out for different, preferential or unfair treatment.

The actual frequency for individual staff should be set out in the terms of the Individual Supervision Agreement (see Appendix 2: Individual Supervision Agreement) and any permanent deviation from the recommended frequency should be agreed and recorded in the Individual Supervision Agreement.

6. The Individual Supervision Agreement

See: Appendix 2: Individual Supervision Agreement.

The Individual Supervision Agreement sets out the framework for supervision and provides a degree of protection for the supervisor and supervisee. It also ensures that everybody involved has the same understanding of the supervisory process within their work area. The Agreement should state the supervisory arrangements applicable to an individual member of staff.

The agreement should be drawn up using the Pro-forma (see, Appendix 2: Individual Supervision Agreement) and whatever is agreed should be made explicit and recorded.

7. Roles and Responsibilities

7.1 General

All managers, supervisors and supervisees should ensure arrangements for supervision are made and adhered to.

Where there is an inter-agency agreement in place, the Children’s Services Supervision Policy and procedure can be used, as appropriate.

Individual supervision records are held in a supervision file (see, Appendix 4: Supervision File Structure and Index). They are kept for all staff and may be used in internal and external audit processes. Staff have the right to access their personal data under the Data Protection Act (1998).

All supervision records must be factual and linked to any identified evidence which substantiates the comments recorded.

Roles and responsibilities for staff and managers in Family Safeguarding Teams taking part in group case supervision are set out at the end of this section.

7.2 Responsibilities of Supervisors and Managers

It will normally be the line manager’s responsibility to supervise his or her staff. In exceptional circumstances and only with the agreement of a Senior Manager, alternative arrangements can be made.

The checklist below sets out the Department’s expectations of supervisors to ensure that supervision is effective and reflective and that it encompasses the elements set out above: 

  • Establish and maintain suitable arrangements for supervision so that it is planned and uninterrupted;
  • Ensure supervision is integrated into service planning, objective setting and individual performance plans;
  • Set standards in relation to work performance and practice in line with Departmental, policies, procedures and requirements;
  • Ensure that staff are provided with relevant and appropriate information to meet those standards;
  • Ensure that all statutory and other relevant obligations are met, for example, registration  requirements, National Occupational Minimum Standards, Key Performance Indicators, HCPC and any other relevant Code of Practice, Care Standards, Data Protection Act and Health and Safety regulations;
  • Support employees subject to professional registration to fulfil the eligibility criteria and any requirements for continued registration;
  • Set, monitor and review individual work objectives and targets and agree how these will be achieved;
  • Encourage staff participation in supervision, ensuring that they are listened to and that their experience and contributions is acknowledged;
  • Promote reflective practice;
  • Treat staff with respect, acknowledging values and areas of difference in order to address anti-discriminatory issues;
  • Be knowledgeable regarding the supervisee, their job description and work issues;
  • Ensure that records, written or electronic (for example, LiquidLogic) pertaining to the supervisee are kept up-to-date and where inputting requirements are linked to I.T. systems supervisors are responsible for checking accuracy and timeliness of record input as a mandatory part of the supervision process;

  • Ensure that records are securely filed; 

  • Offer support through the line manager or occupational health if the supervisee’s performance at work is affected by personal issues or vice versa;
  • Access training and development as necessary for the supervisee in order to ensure competence and encourage staff to take responsibility for their own learning and development.
Performance and Development Reviews (PDRs)

In relation to Performance and Development Reviews, supervisors must:

  • Complete appraisal meetings/assessments within the required corporate timescales;
  • Use appropriate skills to appraise and provide feedback;
  • Conduct appraisals fairly and without discrimination;
  • Prepare adequately for discussions/assessments;
  • Base performance assessments on evidence;
  • Share responsibility with staff for ensuring that their training needs are met;
  • Ensure that an accurate agreed record of the discussion is produced, in the corporate format, including agreed targets and training needs.

7.3 Responsibilities of Staff

The following checklist sets out the Department’s key expectations of all staff in relation to supervision:

  • Share responsibility for making supervision work well by preparing for supervision sessions;
  • Negotiate the Individual Supervision Agreement;
  • Use supervision effectively;
  • Participate actively in the process of supervision and in setting the supervision agenda;
  • Attend supervision regularly and on time;
  • Meet departmental, legal, professional standards;
  • Promote the best interests of those who receive a service;
  • Be open and share information with their supervisor;
  • Seek and use guidance and knowledge;
  • Be clear and honest in seeking any assistance;
  • Implement agreements and plans within the timescales agreed/required;
  • Inform their manager/supervisor if plans cannot be implemented;
  • Address issues of discrimination in respect of service delivery and employment;
  • Accept responsibility for their own work performance;
  • Participate in problem-solving, reflecting and thinking through and exploring options;
  • Be responsible for their own learning and active in pursuit of their own development;
  • Give and accept constructive feedback and learn from mistakes.

7.4 Roles and responsibilities for Group Case Supervision in Family Safeguarding Teams

Team member responsibilities: All team members are responsible for:

  • Preparing for the group case supervision meeting, ensuring all workbooks are up-to-date and tasks agreed at the previous meeting are complete;
  • Attending the meeting and contributing to case discussions, providing specialist expertise and reflection based on their interaction with the family;
  • Completing actions allocated to them in the meeting;
  • Creating the culture in which everyone feels able to contribute, reflect and explore emotional responses to cases is the responsibility of the whole team (Ruch, 2000).

Team Manager responsibilities: The Team Manager is responsible for:

  • Setting the agenda for group case supervision meeting, selecting cases to be discussed at each meeting;
  • Ensuring team members can prioritise group case supervision meetings and avoid clashes with other meetings;
  • Ensuring team members attend and participate in the group case supervision meetings;
  • Facilitating discussion and ensuring contributions from the whole team are considered;
  • Authorising decisions taken about individual cases at the group case supervision meeting.

Administrator responsibilities: The administrator is responsible for:

  • Making the arrangements for the group case supervision meeting, including room booking, invitations and other logistics;
  • Taking notes of discussions held in the meeting, including facts disclosed, opinions and decisions;
  • Ensuring discussions and decisions made are recorded on the Workbook  on LCS.

8. Record of Supervision

See Appendix 3: Record of Supervision and Action Plan.

The main purposes of recording supervision sessions are:

  • To aid accountability of the work and the way it is undertaken;
  • To set, review and evaluate targets and performance measures;
  • To ensure accountability between supervision sessions;
  • To record decisions and issues related to the across the four key functions.

In general the supervision record should record details of any agreements reached, who is responsible for undertaking any action and the timescales. In the case of any disagreement concerning issues discussed in supervision, the disagreement should be recorded.

For Family Safeguarding Teams, the outcomes of group case supervision are recorded differently. See below.

8.1 Recording one-to-one supervision

One-to-one supervision can include discussion of individual cases (except in family safeguarding teams). Where matters relate to an individual service user these must be recorded separately on the electronic file. If a paper copy is also made the original will be filed on the service user’s case file. A brief note is made on the supervision record regarding the individual service user, taking into account confidentiality.

All other discussions in supervision are recorded on the supervision file. Each supervisor will keep a supervision file of supervision records to be maintained throughout an employee’s career. Supervision files should include a copy of the information as detailed in Appendix 4: Supervision File Structure and Index. The supervision file must be kept in a secure place.

Supervision records belong to the organisation. To ensure continuity of management accountability, support and development, the records should be transferred to the next Supervisor if the supervisee is moving to another post within the organisation. The records will remain the property of the Children’s Services Department.

Access to supervision files will be restricted to the supervisor, supervisee, Senior Managers, and HR as appropriate, and to officers and other agencies involved in any auditing or personnel purposes.

There may be occasions when personal information does not need to  be recorded. This will normally be where such information does not have a direct impact on work performance or service delivery and it has been agreed by all parties that it will remain confidential within the supervisory or line management relationship.

Ideally supervision records should be typed, however if handwritten these are to be legible. A legible, accessible, written record of every supervision session must be made.

Supervision records should be placed in the supervisee’s personal file. 

(See Appendix 2: Individual Supervision Agreement)

If capability or disciplinary procedures, or civil or criminal proceedings were to ensue, it is possible supervision records could be used in evidence. Records should, therefore, always be written with this eventuality in mind. Information received during supervision and the content of the discussion should normally be confidential unless otherwise agreed.

The supervisor is ultimately responsible for the production of adequate, accessible supervision records (even if they are written, with agreement, by the supervisee). Every effort should be made to ensure that the record is an accurate reflection of the interaction between supervisor and supervisee.

The supervision record is agreed by the supervisor and supervisee and signed (by both parties) as an accurate record of discussions and decisions made. If the supervisee does not agree with any part of the record and agreement cannot be reached on re-wording, they should be able to add their  own comments or amendments which then become part of the record of that session.

In the case of a person leaving the City Council, records must be kept locally for at least 2 years. Records should be kept locally for longer if there is any possibility of litigation. Advice should be requested, if needed, from the Freedom of Information Officer.

Where necessary any targets or deadlines must be recorded to enable review at the subsequent supervision session.

It is appropriate for either party to record supervision as long as notes are shared and agreed. In fact, sharing the recording is positively encouraged as it is a legitimate part of the individual supervisees development.

8.2 Recording Group Case supervision meetings in Family Safeguarding Teams

Discussions of individual cases at group case supervision meetings are recorded in the workbook for that case.

Administrators are responsible for recording the discussions and outcomes of group case supervision in the Family Safeguarding Teams. Records are signed off by the manager.

Records of GCS should include:

  • Our workings out for decisions;
  • The decisions that were made;
  • The progress that we have made to carry out these decisions;
  • What the impact of the decisions has been.

The GCS record for each case will include:

  • Who was involved in the discussion;
  • When the discussion took place;
  • A summary of the discussion – the main points made and who they were made by;
  • What decisions were made and why;
  • A plan for what will happen next – actions, expected outcomes, dates and who will carry out the actions.

(What has happened with the plan is then discussed at the next GCS.)

The record will reflect any disagreements and the outcome reached by the team manager.

The amount recorded in the discussion will be proportionate to the complexity of the situation. More will be recorded if the situation is more complex. Complexity depends on:

  • How many things are happening;
  • How many people are involved;
  • The probability and severity of risk;
  • The likelihood of change;
  • The amount of conflict.
The Manager will advise the support officer on how complex the situation is.

9. Quality Control

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. They are:

  • Staff are being supervised professionally and effectively;
  • Supervision sessions are being recorded;
  • Individual Supervision Agreements are being developed, reviewed and used;
  • The supervision process promotes equal opportunities and anti discriminatory practice.

The quality assurance arrangements involve:

  • Date of each supervision session held to be recorded onto the Directorate database;
  • The auditing of a random selection of supervision files on a six-monthly basis by managers;
  • Discussion during supervision, for example, between a Service Manager and a Team Manager, about the Team Manager’s practice in supervising their staff;
  • A Senior Manager may request copies of supervision records as evidence of practice and to use as a tool where there are developmental needs on behalf of the part of the Team Manager;
  • Sampling of records should be undertaken and the expectation is that the supervisor’s line manager will record the sampling in the supervisor’s own supervision records.

Quality Assurance Arrangements for Group Case Supervision Meetings

This information is to follow.

Supervision of Team Managers

  • Each month Service Managers will select a supervision file from the workload of one of their team managers for examination in line with agreed audit tools;
  • This will be noted, signed and dated on the supervision record, along with written details of any action required to bring the selected supervision file up to required standards.

Supervision of Service Managers

  • On a quarterly basis the responsible Head of Service will select a supervision file from the workload of each Service Manager for examination. This will be noted, signed and dated on the supervision record, along with written details of any action required to bring the selected supervision file up to required standards.

10. Supervision Tools: Appendices

Appendix 1: The Five Functions of Supervision

Appendix 2: Individual Supervision Agreement - to be completed at the start of a new job and at every change of supervisor.

Appendix 3: Record of Supervision and Action Plan - to be completed at every one-to-one supervision session and other types of supervision as appropriate. PPAs - to be completed at the annual or, 6 monthly review or at the induction of a new employee.

Appendix 4: Supervision File Structure and Index