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


This policy and procedure sets out how supervision will happen for all Practitioners, including locums, in Merton. It explains the processes and requirements for supervision for both supervisors and supervisees and must be followed by all managers who are responsible for delivering supervision.


Children's Services Policies, Values and Principles

Quality Assurance Framework


This chapter was comprehensively updated throughout in May 2018 and includes new sections on Section 2, What is Supervision, Definition, Context and Theoretical Framework; Section 3, Supervision Definitions; Section 4, Supervision Agreement; Section 5, Addressing Equalities and Diversity in Supervision; Section 9, Group/Peer Supervision and Section 13, Resolving Difficulties. The chapter also contains a range of templates and tools in the Appendices, including Supervision Agreement; Case Supervision template and Observation templates.

1. Introduction

The aim of this document is to provide clear information for Practitioners and Supervisors on the requirements for supervision. Effective supervision is an integral part of social care practice and an important component of the Children's Social Care performance management framework. It is a fundamental belief in Merton's Children's Services that its' staff are the most important asset in fulfilling its responsibility to provide a quality service to service users. The supervision and development of all staff are significant processes in the success of the organisation.

Supervision is an important right and benefit for all those working in social care. It benefits the individual, the organisation and indirectly, as part of an intervention, it benefits those who use services. Supervision which supports staff to critically analyse and reflect on their practice and to manage the emotional impact of their work will result in better outcomes for service users. Linking to appraisal and continuing professional development, supervision should be informed by relevant professional standards for the practitioner.

Supervision arguably has the greatest influence on practice other than the practitioner her / himself. Managers, supervisors and practitioners (supervisees) are jointly responsible for ensuring that supervision meets the requirements as set out in this policy.

It is mandatory for this policy and procedure to be applied to all social care practitioners working for Merton. Registered Social Workers should receive regular and formal supervision by a supervisor who is also a Registered Social Worker.

2. What is Supervision, Definition, Context and Theoretical Framework


Individual supervision is a regular one to one meeting between the supervisor and supervisee in order to meet organisational, professional and personal objectives.


This policy has been developed within the context of the following:

  • Standards and guidance:
  • Text and research:
    • Morrison, T (2005) Staff Supervision in Social Care: Making a Real Difference to Staff and Service Users, (3rd edit.) Pavilion, Brighton;
    • Morrison, T (2009) Guide to the Supervision of Newly Qualified Social Workers;
    • CWDC/Skills4Care (2007) Providing Effective Supervision: Effective Workforce Development Tool.
  • Merton's practice model, utilising the Signs of Safety model for supervision and learning.

Theoretical Framework

This policy, procedure and guidance draws on the work of Tony Morrison and his publication - 'Staff Supervision in Social Care' (2005) - and endorses the approach using the Kolb Experiential Learning Cycle (adapted by Morrison, 2005) often referred to as the 4x4x4 supervision model.

This model has three fundamental elements which together provided an integrated framework for supervision, these are:

  • 4 Functions of supervision - Management, Development, Mediation, Support;
  • 4 Stakeholders in the supervisory process - Service Users, Staff, Organisation, Partners;
  • 4 Stages of the Kolb learning cycle - Experience, reflection, analysis, plans and action.

3. Supervision Definitions

Formal supervision: A formal one-to-one meeting between a supervisee and supervisor to meet certain organisational, professional and personal objectives that promote the best outcomes for service users (Tony Morrison, 2005). All supervision records must give sufficient detail of the discussion to reflect the content of the meeting, identify actions as agreed, timescales and record any disagreements and concerns raised.

Informal supervision: Where management decisions are made based on a discussion, email or phone call between a supervisee and supervisor, and actions and steps are set out to be taken verbally and/or in writing on the child or family's record. This should be recorded as a Management Decision Casenote.

Management oversight: Where a supervisor or manager reviews a case via discussion or by auditing case files and actions are noted on Mosaic using a Management Decision Casenote.

4. Supervision Agreement

A supervision agreement should be agreed and signed using the template in Appendix 1: Supervision Agreement. This should be signed by the supervisor and supervisee within four weeks of starting the supervisory relationship.

The supervision agreement should be updated according to the changing needs of the supervisee. An example of this may be where the frequency of supervision has been set initially and this changes as the member of staff develops professional competence, confidence and authority in their role. As a minimum, the supervision agreement should be reviewed together annually.

5. Addressing equalities and diversity in supervision

Addressing equalities and diversity must be an integral part of the supervisory relationship in terms of the:

  • Differences between the supervisor and the supervisee and the impact of this on the supervisory relationship, for example, age, status, gender, ethnicity, experience;
  • Supervisee's practice and service delivery to children and families and or engagement with service users, partners and stakeholders;
  • Supervisor having a responsibility to monitor the work of their supervisee to ensure all practice is compatible with LB of Merton's Equality and Diversity Policy;
  • Supervision promoting anti-discriminatory practice in line with the Equality Act 2010.

6. Expectations of the Supervisor/Manager/Assessor

  • Make sure a supervision agreement is signed and on the supervisee's file (see Appendix 1: Supervision Agreement);
  • Plan for supervision sessions and prepare a draft agenda to be agreed with the supervisee;
  • Maintain confidentiality within agreed boundaries;
  • Make sure supervision takes place in private;
  • Arrange for supervision to be uninterrupted, protected time at the agreed frequency (as informed by the Employers Standards);
  • Explain cancellation and to re-organise immediately;
  • Record the content of supervision and decisions for children, young people and families using the Case Supervision template (see Appendix 2: Case Supervision Template);
  • Record a Managers decision in observations/case note where for specific reasons a child's case might be supervised less frequency e.g. a disabled child who is on a Care Package Review and may only require an annual updated assessment;
  • Record a Manager's Decision Casenote on a child's record where there has been case direction between planned supervision.
  • To use the Professional Capabilities Framework for Social Work and Knowledge and Skills Statement (2014) to assess capability and performance;
  • Promote the continuing professional  development of the Practitioner;
  • To see evidence of good professional practice, skills and knowledge, including routine audit of case files and record this on the supervisee's file;
  • To offer constructive criticism and guidance relating to work issues and CPD;
  • Promote anti-discriminatory practice.

7. Expectations of Supervisee (Practitioner)

  • Ask for immediate management support and oversight when worried about the immediate safety of a child/young person;
  • Make sure child/young person records are up to date and accurate for the supervisor to review as necessary;
  • Evidence the use - as required - of each child's assessment, genogram, chronology and direct work to progress the plan to make positive changes for the child/young person;
  • Attend supervision regularly and on time (if unable to attend, to notify the supervisor);
  • Share responsibility for actively making supervision work including preparing for supervision (i.e. contribute to the supervision agenda, have up to date information about cases);
  • Make sure any actions agreed in supervision are carried out in the agreed timescale, asking for and using guidance, information and support offered by the supervisor;
  • To use the supervision process to critically reflect, think through and explore casework options and accountability;
  • To make sure they receive a copy of the supervision notes within 5 working days of the supervision session;
  • Record case supervision reference on the child's record within 6 working days of it taking place using the correct title; "Sue Brown supervising Bill Jones" and upload the template record to SMART;
  • Identify CPD needs, be active in meeting them through a professional development plan and link to evidence in relation to the Professional Capabilities Framework, Knowledge and Skills Statement (2014) and ongoing HCPC Registration;
  • Maintain agreed boundaries of confidentiality (by contrast, where good social work practice examples are identified, these should (with consent) be shared outside of the supervision setting, (e.g. with the Team) to promote good practice;
  • Promote anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice in all work and through records.

8. Structure, Frequency and Content

8.1 Frequency

Case supervision - the frequency for discussion and review of all cases for children and young people should be at a minimum of every 12 weeks or more frequently if this is required due to the particular circumstances such as complexity, need, level of risk and level of pace required. This includes children and young people subject to a Child in Need plan, Child Protection Plan, Looked after Children Care Plan and Care Leavers.

Personal supervision - the supervisor and supervisee should agree on the duration and frequency of supervision taking into account experience, the complexity of work and the professional standards to be met. It will be appropriate to arrange for more frequent supervision for staff who are newly qualified, new to Children's Social Care and Youth Inclusion, if there are particular pieces of work which need more time in supervision and Service specific requirements. When supervising newly qualified social workers, team managers must refer to the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) Booklet and other ASYE related documents.

Observations of Practice - Merton expects that, in addition to regular supervision sessions, supervisors should carry out at least two direct observations of practice per year. These observations should use Appendix 3: Observation Template (to be found at Appendix 6B of Quality Assurance Framework) which is based on the widely used and robust 'York Model of Observation'. A record of these observations should be placed on the individual's supervision file. Suitable delegated colleagues can also complete observations.

Staff Member Frequency of Supervision
Qualified Social Work Staff and non-social work qualified staff Every four weeks for at least an hour and half
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 in advance with dates fixed for at least 3 months ahead.

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

Agreed supervision time must be given priority over other activities wherever possible (with the exception of annual leave, sickness or court) and should not be cancelled unless there are exceptional circumstances which affect the core business of the organisation. When supervision sessions have been cancelled, rearranged or are held less frequently than monthly, reasons for this should be recorded.

A Supervision Log, listing dates, should be kept for NQSW's in their Assessed and Supported Year in Employment.

8.2 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. Check-in; general professional/personal welfare and wellbeing, health and safety issues, Leave, absence, TOIL;
  2. Workload management including priorities, targets and action required, including diary/time management;
  3. Review of outstanding issues from last supervision session, and action taken;
  4. Case discussions (ensuring that all cases are discussed on a rolling programme and recorded separately on the correct template for the child/young person's record);
  5. Information giving and clarification (e.g. equalities/anti-discriminatory practice issues; legal requirements, local/national policies);
  6. Professional and personal development (including evidence relating to the professional competency frameworks and career progression where appropriate);
  7. Any other business.

8.3 Location

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

9. Group/Peer Supervision

This can take place using a variety of structured models including case mapping, systemic review, peer group case supervision, practitioner meetings and practice learning sets. Reflective Group Supervision is provided by the CAMHS team in Merton.

Where they take place these sessions should be held regularly with a clear framework and providing a safe and supportive environment. Group supervision may be used to complement 1:1 supervision. It cannot be used as an alternative to 1:1 supervision. Where specific children/young people or families are discussed a summary of the discussion with any agreed actions should be recorded on their files by the social worker. See Appendix 5: Group Supervision for guidance on setting up and using group supervision.

10. Recording

On each supervisee's file there should be:

  • A supervision agreement that has been reviewed and updated at least annually as necessary;
  • An annual appraisal;
  • Professional development plan;
  • Evidence of monthly supervision including reflective practice.

Personal supervision - An electronic record of supervision should be completed by either the supervisor or Practitioner (to be agreed in advance) during each session. A Supervision Record Form is attached (see Appendix 4: Individual Supervision Record). This must be used to record topics covered, agree actions, accountability and timescales.

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

Case discussions

Case discussions and specific actions agreed in supervision must be recorded on the child's or family's case file on Mosaic or the appropriate recording system. These discussions must not be recorded on the individual supervisee's electronic supervision folder. Supervision records of case discussions must evidence why a decision has been made. It is important that all case decision-making is evidenced by reasoning and management oversight on the case is made explicit.

A record of the child's name and Mosaic ID number must be recorded as part of the general supervision record for reference only.

It is the responsibility of the supervisor to record the case discussion using Appendix 2: Case Supervision Template this should then be sent to the social worker to upload to the child's or family's record. As a minimum requirement, recordings of case supervision should be uploaded every 12 weeks; it is likely that a number of cases would require more frequent review depending on need, complexity, pace and risk.

11. 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.

During supervision, the practitioner may give 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 practitioner, but may wish to confidentially discuss some of the issues raised with their line manager, senior manager, HR or with another agency. The manager should try and agree the next steps with the practitioner, but should also know their duties to safeguard 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 have to pass on the information.

It is important that employees can discuss any aspects of their practice with their manager in a safe environment. 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.

Supervision should be used to support and develop practitioners' professional judgment in handling and sharing confidential information.  Managers should make sure that practitioners 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 Pan 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. 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.

12. Quality Assurance of Supervision

A supervisor's practice should be regularly overseen, and monitored by their line manager through their own supervision process. This will include discussion, audits of supervision records, direct observation and feedback from the supervisees at least annually. The Supervision QA tool will be entered into the supervisor's file.

The annual survey of staff - will also seek feedback from staff about the supervision process. The outcomes of the survey are analysed and improvements are identified.

13. Resolving Difficulties

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.

14. 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 practitioners.

Appendix 1: Supervision Agreement

Click here to view Appendix 1: Supervision Agreement

Appendix 2: Case Supervision Template

Click here to view Appendix 2: Case Supervision Template

Appendix 3: Observation Template

Click here to view Appendix 3: Observation Template

Appendix 4: Individual Supervision Record

Click here to view Appendix 4: Individual Supervision Record

Appendix 5: Group Supervision

Click here to view Appendix 5: Group Supervision

Trix procedures

Only valid for 48hrs