Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

W3C Compliance

9.2.1 Supervision Policy and Procedure for Registered Social Workers Employed by London Borough of Merton


This document sets out the policy and procedure that must be followed by all managers who are responsible for delivering supervision to Registered Social Workers.

It sets out clear guidelines on expectations of both Supervisors and Social Workers within the context of formal supervision. This policy and procedure meets the requirements of Social Work Reform as recommended by the Social Work Task Force in 2009.

This document does not cover staff who are not Registered Social Workers for whom other procedures will apply.

This procedure is continually reviewed by all members of staff for suitability, effectiveness and customer focus to ensure we can improve upon the service we provide. If you have any comments on this procedure, please complete an improvement form included in the ‘Issue, Control and Revision’ procedure (1.0).


Children’s Services Policies, Values and Principles

Quality Assurance Framework

Social Worker Supervision: Information and Guidance

Caseload Allocation Policy

This chapter was added to the manual in April 2014.

This chapter is currently under review.


  1. Introduction
  2. Principles Underpinning Supervision
  3. Definition and Function of Supervision
  4. Expectations of the Supervisor/Manager
  5. Expectations of Supervisee
  6. Structure, Frequency and Content
  7. Recording
  8. Confidentiality
  9. Quality Assurance of Supervision
  10. Evaluation

    Appendix 1: Supervision Record

1. Introduction

The aim of this document is to provide clear information for Social Workers and Supervisors on the requirements for supervision of all Social Workers. Effective supervision is an integral part of social work practice and an important component of the Adults and Children’s Social Care performance management framework.

Merton recognises that reflective practice and critical thinking are the keys to effective social work and high quality, regular supervision should be an integral part of social work practice. Good supervision practice should enable Social Workers to contribute to the work of the Department, to be clear about what is expected of them and how they can improve and/or develop their capability. Social Workers will receive regular supervision and supervisors will provide supervision in line with requirements set out in this document, and Employer Standards as recommended by the British Association of Social Workers.

2. Principles Underpinning Supervision

2.1 It is mandatory for this policy and procedure to be applied to all Registered Social Workers working for Merton.
2.2 Registered Social Workers should receive regular and formal supervision by a supervisor who is also a Registered Social Worker.
2.3 Supervision is an integral element of good practice, vital for supporting Social Workers, developing professional skills and improving outcomes for customers/service users.
2.4 Supervision is a partnership between supervisor, Registered Social Worker and the Department.
2.5 Supervision should underpin and promote anti-discriminatory practice.
2.6 Supervision practice should reflect the values of a learning organisation.

3. Definition and Function of Supervision

3.1 Definition

Supervision is a process by which one member of staff manages, directs, and oversees the performance of another member of staff in order to meet organisational, professional and personal objectives.

‘Supervision should be based on a rigorous understanding of the key elements of effective social work supervision, as well as the research and evidence which underpins good social work practice. Supervision should challenge practitioners to reflect critically on their cases and should foster an inquisitive approach to social work.’ (Social Work Reform Board Supervision Framework, 2012)

3.2 Functions of Supervision

The supervision process incorporates three main functions: Management, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Support.

3.2.1 Management

The aims of the management function are to ensure:

  • The overall quality of work; in particular, the quality of assessment, intervention and care plans;
  • That policies and procedures are understood and followed;
  • That social workers understand their roles, responsibilities and capabilities (PCF) and that work is carried out to an acceptable standard;
  • That workloads are equitable and appropriate and are reviewed regularly in  accordance with organizational and service demands;
  • That action plans are in place and monitored;
  • That case records are maintained according to organizational policy;
  • That targets are set and monitored;
  • That practice is consistent across teams;
  • That poor performance is identified, challenged and appropriately addressed following departmental and organizational procedures.

3.2.2 Continuing Professional Development

The aims of the CPD function are to develop:

  • A positive approach to learning together as a team and individually;
  • The performance of Social Workers so they deliver a quality service;
  • An assessment of each Social Worker’s capabilities, (as defined by the Professional Capabilities Framework), their continuing professional development needs and how these can be met;
  • An understanding of each Social Worker’s values and attitudes and their impact on their work and the work of the team;
  • The use of research, theory and other learning methods to meet the needs of the team, Social Worker and customers/service users;
  • The use of constructive feedback, critical thinking and reflective discussion within the team as part of their development;
  • Access to professional consultation and other sources of information and knowledge outside the team;
  • Regular and constructive feedback to the Social Worker on all aspects of their performance;
  • Professional Development Plans for each team member including an annual appraisal and appraisal review which underpins and monitors evidence based practice to support HCPC Registration (See HCPC website).

3.2.3 Support

The aims of the supportive function are to:

  • Clarify boundaries between professional development and personal needs;
  • Social Workers, enabling them to talk about feelings engendered by their professional practice;
  • Support Social Workers who have experienced abuse, threats, violence, or discrimination in the course of their work;
  • Monitor the Social Workers emotional and physical health, with particular regard to the effects of stress, possible burnout and the management;
  • Assist Social Workers to reflect on and resolve difficulties in professional relationships;
  • Promote the physical and mental health and wellbeing of all social workers.

4. Expectations of the Supervisor

  • To plan supervision sessions in advance and ensure a supervision agreement is signed (see Appendix 1: Supervision Record);
  • To prepare for supervision sessions and prepare an agenda;
  • To maintain confidentiality within agreed boundaries;
  • To ensure supervision takes place in private;
  • To expect supervision to be uninterrupted and have protected time;
  • To explain cancellation and to re-organise immediately;
  • To record the content of supervision and decision made on the prescribed form (see Appendix 1: Supervision Record);
  • To use the Professional Capabilities Framework for Social Work to assess capability and performance;
  • To promote the continuing professional  development of the Social Worker;
  • To see evidence of good professional practice, skills and knowledge, including routine audit of case files;
  • To offer constructive criticism and guidance relating to work issues and CPD;
  • To promote anti-discriminatory practice;

5. Expectations of Supervisee (Social Worker)

  • To make available client records;
  • To attend supervision regularly and on time (if unable to attend, to notify the supervisor);
  • To share responsibility for making supervision work and to participate actively;
  • To prepare for supervision (i.e. contribute to the supervision agenda);
  • Record evidence in relation to the Professional Capabilities Framework and ongoing HCPC Registration;
  • To seek and use guidance, information and support offered by the supervisor;
  • To identify CPD needs and be active in meeting them;
  • To reflect, think through and explore casework options which arise through practice;
  • To receive a copy of the supervision notes within 1 week of the supervision session;
  • To maintain agreed boundaries of confidentiality (by contrast, where good social work practice examples are identified, these should (with consent), shared outside of the supervision setting (eg. with the Team) to promote good practice;
  • To promote anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice.

6. Structure, Frequency and Content

6.1 Frequency

Staff Member Frequency Of Supervision
Qualified Social Work Staff Monthly for at least an hour and half for full time staff, 6 weekly for part-time staff.
Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW’s) Weekly for the first 6 weeks of employment, at least fortnightly for the first 6 months, and a minimum of monthly supervision thereafter.

Supervision sessions should be planned and regular for all Social Workers.

All supervision sessions should be scheduled in advance, with dates fixed at least two sessions ahead.

In addition to formal supervision, supervisors and other managers will be available for informal case management discussions as required.  

It is recognised that some Social Workers may require more frequent supervision.

6.2 Content

The following Standing Agenda items should be included in each supervision session: (this should be adapted to include case discussions for social workers or task discussions for non-operational teams as appropriate):

  1. Review of outstanding issues from last supervision session, and action taken;
  2. Workload management and case discussions (ensuring that all cases are discussed on a rolling programme);
  3. Priorities, targets and action required, including diary/time management;
  4. Information giving and clarification (eg legal, local/national policies);
  5. General Social Worker’s welfare;
  6. Evidence relating to the HR Competency Framework and Social Work Professional Capabilities Framework;
  7. Professional and personal development (including career progression where appropriate);
  8. Equalities/anti-discriminatory practice issues;
  9. Health and safety issues;
  10. Any other business.

6.3 Location

Supervision should take place in a private room, free from interruption, which is available for the whole of the supervision session.

7. Recording

An electronic record of supervision should be completed by either the supervisor or Registered Social Worker (to be agreed in advance) during each session. A Supervision Record Form is attached (see Appendix 1: Supervision Record). This must be used to record topics covered, agree actions, accountability and timescales. There is a separate section in this table for recording capability issues.

All supervision records should relate to the purpose of the supervision. Personal information about a Social Worker should only be recorded if it impacts on the individuals work, capability and performance or affects the service provision to the service user/customer.

The recording of evidence in relation to the competencies set out in the Competency Framework should be completed in the Professional Development Portfolio where there is a section specifically designed for this.

An important aspect of supervision is the setting in which supervision takes place – which can either be “formal” or “informal”. Formal supervision (as a rule) is most likely to have been organised in advance, and will take place in a private room, where an open discussion can be held as planned.  

8. Confidentiality


Confidential information is:

  • Personal information of a private or sensitive nature; and
  • Information that is not already lawfully in the public domain or readily available from another public source; and
  • Information that has been shared in circumstances where the person giving the information could reasonably expect that it would not be shared with others.

This is a complex area and you should seek advice if you are unsure and refer to Caldicott Guidelines.

8.2  During supervision, the social worker may disclose information about themselves or their colleagues that is of a private or sensitive nature. The manager has a duty to respect the privacy of the social worker, but may wish to confidentially discuss some of the issues raised with another person, with HR or with another agency. The manager should try and agree the next steps with the social worker, but should also be aware of their duties to safeguard customers/service users and protect staff under Health and Safety legislation. If failure to disclose the information would place someone at risk of harm the Manager should explain that they are obliged to pass on the information.
8.3 It is important that employees can discuss any aspects of their practice with their manager. Customer/service user confidentiality is not breached by discussion during supervision, although there is a clear responsibility to ensure that supervision discussions take place in a private room rather than a shared office.
8.4 Supervision should be used to support and develop social workers professional judgment in handling and sharing confidential information.  Managers should ensure that social workers are aware of their responsibilities regarding confidential information and that they are sharing information effectively, ethically and securely in compliance with Council’s Procedures, the London Child Protection Procedures, Pan London Adult Protection Procedures and HM Government, Information sharing – Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers (2015). If training is required, this should be accessed through the Learning and Development Team. Expert advice on confidentiality is available from the Caldicott Guardian or the Information Governance Team on ext 4182.

9. Quality Assurance of Supervision

9.1 A supervisor’s practice should be regularly overseen, and monitored by their manager through their own supervision process. This will include discussion and audits of supervision records.

Conflict resolution

In the event of a dispute or disagreement between supervisor and supervisee that cannot be resolved satisfactorily between the two parties, the supervisor’s manager should be informed and a three-way meeting convened. The aim of this meeting is to achieve a satisfactory resolution. Whilst it is the intention to resolve difficulties informally wherever possible (including the use of workplace mediation), all parties should be aware of Merton’s Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures.

In the event of a dispute or disagreement between supervisor and supervisee that cannot be resolved satisfactorily between the two parties, the supervisor’s manager should be informed and a three-way meeting convened. The aim of this meeting is to achieve a satisfactory resolution. Whilst it is the intention to resolve difficulties informally wherever possible (including the use of workplace mediation), all parties should be aware of Merton’s Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures.

10. Evaluation

The Principal Social Worker within the organisation will  evaluate the quality of supervision practice on a regular basis and the extent to which supervision standards are met, and report the findings to senior management. This will be done through sampling appraisals, sampling Supervision Records and consulting with supervisors and social workers.

Appendix 1: Supervision Record

Click here to see Appendix 1: Supervision Record.