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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 December 2019, this chapter was revised throughout locally to reflect local guidance.


  1. Policy Rationale
  2. Scope of the Policy
  3. Definition of Supervision
  4. Types of Supervision
  5. Minimum Frequencies and Duration
  6. The Individual Supervision Agreement
  7. Roles and Responsibilities
  8. Record of Case Supervision
  9. Quality Control
  10. Supervision Tools: Appendices
  11. Appendix 1: The Five Functions of Supervision
  12. Appendix 2: Individual Supervision Agreement
  13. Appendix 3: Record of Case Supervision and Action Plan
  14. Appendix 4: Personal Supervision File Structure and Index
  15. Appendix 5: Frequency of Case Supervision by Team Table

1. Policy Rationale

The policy sets out the Children, Families and Education 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. Managers and staff should:

  • 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.

This policy should be read alongside the relevant guidance and procedures of Luton Council.

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 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.

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 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. In social care and children's services this should optimise the capacity of people who use services to lead independent and fulfilling lives.' 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 underpins the Councils "Check In" procedures. 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 the 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. Types of Supervision

In Luton we recognise 3 different types of supervision as follows:

  1. Personal Supervision (one-to one's): Personal supervision sessions are normally held on a planned one-to-one basis and are a requirement for all members of staff. These sessions will include a focus on successes, issues, professional development and employee well-being and will incorporate the Council 'check in' performance management methodology. Due to the potentially stressful nature of the work in Children's Services, personal supervision for all operational staff including managers is expected to take place once a month;
  2. The Councils Supervision policy has been revised and quarterly "Check Ins" have taken the place of Appraisal. Check-Ins provide an opportunity to focus on personal development, progression, CPD and performance, as well as employee wellbeing. For those professionals with direct case holding responsibility, including Team Managers, Check-In's do not take the place of either case or personal supervision, which should continue to provide a reflective space where all aspects of the work and its impact on the individual can be considered. The Quarterly Check- in does not need to be a separate supervision session and can be scheduled during regular personal supervision every 3 months;
  3. Case Supervision: For case-holding workers there is a requirement that the supervisee also receives case supervision. In Family Safeguarding Teams, group case supervision is used to oversee Workbook cases and make management decisions. In all other teams (and non-workbook cases in Family Safeguarding) case supervision is held on an individual basis for all cases held by the worker and in line with the frequencies listed in Section 5, Minimum Frequencies and Duration. If a manager undertakes group case supervision or individual worker case supervision sessions, these should not replace personal supervision (one-to-one's) to which the supervisee has a right;
  4. Informal/ Ad-hoc consultation: 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 (case) are clearly recorded on the service user's record.

5. Minimum Frequencies and Duration

This section sets out the minimum requirements relating to frequency of supervisions.

Personal Supervision

For Personal (one-to-one) supervision for all staff:

  • The normal frequency is every 4 weeks and no less than 6-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.

Case Supervision Timescales

CAPTION: table_Supervision Timescales


Case Type

Minimum frequency for supervision of every case


Peer Supervision

1 weekly

Complex Case Supervision

4 weekly

Early Help

Level 3 cases

4 weekly

Level 2 cases

8 weekly

Assessment Team

All cases

4 weekly

Family Safeguarding

Workbook cases requiring group case supervision

4 weekly

Non-workbook cases

4 weekly

Children with Disabilities

Active CP and LAC cases

4 weekly

CIN cases whilst short-term active Social Work is undertaken

4 weekly

Duty cases do not routinely require supervision (such cases include, Shared Care Respite Service, London Road Resource Centre and Direct Payments.)
All cases are reviewed, risk assessed and the child is seen at least annually with management oversight on file.

As and when required. Dependant on when changing needs or circumstances where need for increased social work intervention is identified.

0-17 Looked After Children

Awaiting permanency (Not in a matched placement)

4 weekly

In a stable matched placement (6 weekly statutory visiting)

4-6 weekly  (this can be light touch only and full case supervision every 3 months)

In a stable matched placement for over 1 year (12 weekly Statutory visiting)

4-6 weekly light touch (this can be light touch only and full case supervision every 3 months)

18+ Care Leavers

Care Leavers with additional needs and vulnerabilities (for example; Presence of criminal exploitation, serious youth violence, significant mental health issues, young parents needing additional support or assessment etc.)

4 weekly

Care Leavers in stable circumstances

4-6 weekly (this can be light touch only and full case supervision every 3 months)

Formerly relevant and keeping touch cases not allocated to a worker.

As and when required. Dependent on level of contract and any risk identified

Fostering Service

Fostering Assessment

4 weekly

Fostering Support – Not matched

4 weekly

Fostering Support – Matched stable cases

4 weekly (this can be light touch only and full case supervision every 3 months)

Fostering Support – awaiting permanency or matched placements that are not stable or where additional support is required

4 weekly

Adoption Team

All cases

4 weekly

Safeguarding and Quality Assurance Service (IROs and CP Chairs)

All cases

4 weekly (cases of concern identified by IRO/ CP Chair and line manager for discussion each month)

Manor Contact Centre

All cases

4 weekly

Other circumstances

There is some flexibility in order to take account of individual circumstances, operational needs and additional guidance; for example increased frequency of case supervision for newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) undertaking their Assessed and Supported Year in Employmnet (ASYE) have additional supervision requirements laid out in the ASYE guidance and agreements and Luton Council standards. When agreeing frequency, supervisors will assess individual requirements such as 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 a particular member of staff is being singled out for different, preferential or unfair treatment.

The actual frequency of case supervision 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: Personal 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 (2018).

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 Directorate's expectations of supervisors to ensure supervision is effective, reflective and 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 Directorate policies, procedures and requirements;
  • Ensure staff are provided with relevant and appropriate information to meet those standards;
  • Ensure all statutory and other relevant obligations are met, for example, registration  requirements, National Occupational Minimum Standards, Key Performance Indicators, HCPC and any other relevant Codes 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 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 Management – Check-in Scheme

In relation to performance management supervisors must:

  • CompleteCheck-in meetings within the required corporate timescales (a minimum of 4 per year are recommended for full-time staff). Check- in meetings can take place during individual supervision once a quarter;
  • Use appropriate skills to appraise and provide feedback;
  • Conduct supervision and Check-in meetings 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.

Check-ins must be completed as per the corporate Check-in Scheme Guidance Notes March 2019.

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 and 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;
  • Sharing reflections on the voice of the child, wishes and feelings;
  • 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 and/or Deputy Team Manager responsibilities: The Team Manager and/or Deputy Team Manager is responsible for:

  • Setting the agenda for group case supervision meetings and selecting cases to be discussed at each meeting;
  • Ensuring all practitioners involved in the case can prioritise group case supervision meetings and avoid clashes with other meetings;
  • Ensuring all practitioners involved in the case attend and participate in the group case supervision meetings;
  • Facilitating discussion and ensuring contributions from all practitioners involved in the case are considered;
  • Authorising decisions taken about individual cases at the group case supervision meeting With clear management oversight;
  • Ensuring risks flagged by all practitioners involved in the case are discussed and a single risk judgement agreed;
  • Ensuring the voice of the child is heard.

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, this should be in-line with the group case supervision templates in the workbook on LiquidLogic;
  • Understanding timeline of individual cases, such as complex cases and those nearing stepdown;
  • Ensuring all group case supervision notes are captured on the workbook in a timely manner and within the required timescales

8. Record of Case Supervision

See Appendix 3: Record of Case 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 case, 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 Section 8.2, Recording Group Case supervision meetings in Family Safeguarding Teams.

8.1 Recording Personal (one-to-one) Supervision

One-to-one supervision can include discussion of individual cases (except for workbook cases in family safeguarding teams). Where matters relate to an individual service user (case) 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: Personal 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, Families and Education Directorate.

Access to supervision files will be restricted to the supervisor, supervisee, Senior Managers, HR as appropriate. Files can be made available 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 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 Group Case Supervision should 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 review of the work undertaken and what difference it has made for the service user;
  • Reflection on practice, such as where are parents/ carers on the cycle of change, what is working, what is not, how can we make it work;
  • Learning from each of the practitioners involved in the case and understanding the different professional perspectives;
  • The decisions that were made and how;
  • The progress that has been made and evidence of change;
  • What the impact of the decisions has been;
  • A plan for what will happens next – actions, expected outcomes, dates and who will carry out the actions.

The tasks set at each group case supervision are discussed at the next group case supervision and new tasks set for the new period.

The record will reflect any disagreements and the outcome reached by the Team Manager and/or Deputy 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 senior 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 Director 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 Case Supervision and Action Plan - to be completed at every one-to-one supervision session and other types of supervision as appropriate.

Appendix 4: Personal Supervision File Structure and Index

Appendix 5: Frequency of Case Supervision by Team Table