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1.4 Children's Social Care Supervision (Supplementary Policy)


This chapter details the management responsibility to provide timely, effective and reflective supervision to their staff. It also covers how this affects service delivery to ensure a positive impact on children and young people.


National Minimum Standards

Social Work England

Skills for Care (2008), Providing Effective Supervision


In October 2013, this chapter was extensively updated and should be read in its entirety.


  1. Introduction 
  2. Timing and Frequency of Supervision 
  3. Timing and Frequency of Supervision of staff working in residential units
  4. Recording of Supervision
  5. Supervision relationships 
  6. Reflective Practice and Critical Thinking
  7. Enabling Effective Decision-Making
  8. Professional Development 
  9. Supervision Files and Contents
  10. Record of Supervision (CYP/SUP/2)
  11. Casework Discussions During Supervision
  12. Supervision Audits
  13. Standards for Measuring the Quality of Supervision 
  14. Agency Staff
  15. References

    Appendix 1: Social worker Casework Discussion Updates Form

    Appendix 2: Reflective Supervision Discussion Form

    Appendix 3: Methods and Tools for Reflective Supervision

    Appendix 4: The Supervision Audit Tool

    Appendix 5: Supervision File - List of Contents

    Appendix 6: Supervision Arrangement Agreement

    Appendix 7: Record of Supervision

    Appendix 8: Record of Supervision Continuation Sheet

1. Introduction

Caption: Introduction
1.1 This policy document is specifically for Children's Social Care staff working with children and families and should be read and adhered to as a supplementary policy alongside the department's Supervision policy (see Intranet), it is designed to emphasise the responsibilities on Managers in providing timely, effective and reflective supervision to their staff.
1.2 Supervision is of critical importance in ensuring our services are positively impacting on children and young people. This includes ensuring our interventions are keeping children safe, our staff are supported and developed to be competent and effective practitioners.
1.3 Effective supervision should provide an opportunity to consider the following issues:
  1.3.a Effective workload management;
  1.3.b Monitoring of individual performance and quality of service provided;
  1.3.c Reflection and guidance on focus of work and methods used;
  1.3.d Ensuring commitment to positive outcomes and effective working with others;
  1.3.e Maintaining motivation and job satisfaction through clarity on work objectives, positive feedback, critical reflection, personal support and continuing personal and professional development.

2. Timing and Frequency of Supervision 

2.1 All social workers should receive at least monthly supervision, i.e. every 4 weeks;
2.2 Newly qualified social workers or those new to statutory Children's Social Care should initially receive fortnightly supervision, which should move to four weekly at a mutually agreed pace, based on experience and confidence of the supervisee. The NQSW should also receive support from a Mentor, as per our Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (AYSE) programme.
2.3 Social Work Assistants should receive monthly supervision;
2.4 Students on placement should receive weekly supervision;
2.5 All children's social care Managers should also receive monthly supervision.
2.6 Although the above specifically mentions social workers, the expected frequency of supervision being at least monthly applies to all frontline roles that work directly with children and families, for example, Family Resource Workers and Kinship workers. The same level of frequency applies to roles that manage frontline services, such as Team Managers and CSMs.

3. Timing and Frequency of Supervision of staff working in Residential Units

The nature of work in residential settings means there is regular contact between staff, service users and Managers. However, this does not diminish the need for regular formal supervision, but in recognition of some of the challenges in achieving monthly supervision where staff work shifts, six weekly supervision is acceptable, but Managers should try and provide monthly supervision where possible.

Managers in all settings are expected to ensure there are adequate cover arrangements for staff to receive supervision in the absence of the worker's line Manager, for occasions of annual leave and sickness absence, to fit with the above expectations.

4. Recording of Supervision

4.1 All supervision sessions should be recorded in case notes, by selecting 'case notes' then from the 'type' pick-list selecting 'Managers recording.' On the case notes view, find case note' select 'Manager's recording' and this will provide all the recordings entered by a Manager. Supervision notes and frequency are required for auditing purposes, so it is essential that the data is entered in the correct location. Do not enter supervision notes under the pick list as 'case discussion' because it cannot be located.
4.2 Section 2.4.3, Supervision Discussions of the Written Records Procedure states "Case discussions in supervision should be entered on the file under case management notes" i.e. Managers recording.

5. Supervision Relationships

"The supervisor's empathy and emotional attunement creates a secure and collaborative climate. This allows the supervisee to develop sufficient trust to be open about their doubts, feelings and 'mistakes', as well as to take risks, be creative and take the initiative."
Morrison (2005).

The supervisory relationship between the supervisor and supervisee is a key factor in effective supervision and should be based on open communication, honesty and trust. This will lead to the practitioner feeling more confident and secure in their role and the supervisor better placed to understand the strengths and developmental needs of the supervisee, ultimately benefiting service users. Supervisors need to draw on their emotional intelligence, take account of equality and diversity issues and understand the power imbalances in supervisory relationship for the supervision experience to be effective.

6. Reflective Practice and Critical Thinking

Caption: Reflective Practice and Critical Thinking
6.1 Reflective practice should be the basis of casework discussions in supervision. Reflection is an essential skill for both supervisors and supervisees especially when working with vulnerable families in complex situations. It is part of the process of developing confident competent practitioners using the "cycle of learning". The cycle involves considering experiences, feelings and values, analysing them in the light of other knowledge, to form a hypothesis as a basis for making or altering a decision or course of action. When the new action is carried out, the cycle start again. (from Kolb 1984). This model can be adapted to suit individual learning styles.
6.2 Supervisors can enable their supervisees to develop reflective practice skills by asking questions such as:
  6.2.a What actually happened?
  6.2.b Why do I think it happened in this way and at this time?
  6.2.c Can I distinguish between the surrounding thoughts, feelings and events and the relationship between them?
  6.2.d What other explanations can there be?
  6.2.e Looking back what is my reaction to what happened?
  6.2.f How does that differ from how I reacted at the time?
  6.2.g What would I/we do differently another time;
  6.2.h What will I/we do next?
  6.2.i What have I/we learnt and how has it changed my ideas?
Morrison (2005).

Team Managers are expected to select at least one case for each worker they supervise per month, which should clearly evidence reflective supervision. Children’s Service Managers are also required to provide reflective supervision to Team Managers they supervise, selecting an appropriate case. For example, a child who has been subject to a Child Protection Plan for 18 months, or a child subject to a repeat Child Protection Plan.

Working Together to Safeguard Children identifies that case recording should be used to record how social workers and their Managers have used the latest research on the impact of neglect and abuse and relevant findings from serious case reviews when analysing the level of need and risk faced by the child. This should be reflected in the case recording.

During supervision the Manager may explore with the practitioner what objectives were previously set in the child’s plan, the work undertaken to date, and what has been achieved. An explanation as to why certain objectives have not been met may then lead the Manager and practitioner to explore the plan, and re-assess the risks in order to establish if the plan should end or be taken down an alternative route. It is important that there is an accurate record on the child’s file of the analysis and decision making with an explanation of how the decisions have been informed by knowledge and research (evidence informed).

Reflective discussions should be recorded by the Manager in Appendix 1: Social worker Casework Discussion Updates Form, Analysis & Agreed Actions section using the headings:

  • Description - What is the family / child scenario we are working with;
  • Evaluation - What was good or bad about the scenario;
  • Analysis - What sense can you make of the situation

What knowledge have you used to help you (evidence, theory, assessment tools, research, previous experience, practice wisdom). Consider from your point of view, the child’s point of view and also that of other family members and other professionals

  • Conclusion - What can be concluded;
  • Action Plan - SMART actions that are needed to safeguard and support the child.

Recording on Practitioners Supervision File

When an in depth, reflective, case discussion is held, a record of this also needs to be recorded on the practitioners supervision file, so that the workers own learning and developmental needs can be recorded and monitored. This should be recorded on Appendix 2: Reflective Supervision Discussion Form. This form should be signed by both parties and kept on the social workers supervision file along with any completed tools or worksheets which have been used to support the analysis (Appendix 3: Methods and Tools for Reflective Supervision).

The learning and developmental outcomes should be used to inform the social workers EPDR Action Plan and Learning Plan. Where appropriate this can also be used when completing a Continuing Professional Development Log to evidence learning activity and supporting evidence.

7. Enabling Effective Decision-Making

Caption: Enabling Effective Decision-Making
7.1 The following framework may support professional judgement by breaking down the elements in order to make the decision-making process more manageable. A sequence of questions to use in supervision may be:
  7.1.a What decision is to be made?
  7.1.b What options are there?
  7.1.c What information is needed to help make the choice?
  7.1.d What are the likely/possible consequences of each option?
  7.1.e How probable is each consequence?
  7.1.f What are the pros and cons of each consequence?
  7.1.g What is the final decision?
Munro (2008)

8. Professional Development

Caption: Professional Development
8.1 Enabling the development of professional competence during supervision is a key aspect of supervision, facilitated through the Employees Performance and Review (EPDR) processes, which considers current performance and areas for development, including how identified learning needs can be met. Alongside formal training, supervision processes can be used to develop staff through:
  8.1.a Modelling - e.g. listening skills, problem solving skills or prioritising skills;
  8.1.b Overtly applying good practice within supervision - e.g. by demonstrating critical thinking, reflective practice, the process of analysis or use of evidence in decision-making;
  8.1.c Respect for diversity by acknowledging the power differential and issues arising from differences regarding gender, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion and social exclusion;
  8.1.d Applying lessons from case reviews and audits to current cases;
  8.1.e Teaching - e.g. a skill or practice theory or the implications of new legislation.

9. Supervision Files and Contents

9.1 All staff should have a supervision file, which should be located in a secure cabinet. In the event of the supervisee moving to a new team, or a change in line Manager, the supervision file should be handed to the new supervisor.
9.2 The supervision file should contain a range of information that is needed by the department regarding the employee's status, job details and information that evidences appropriate support and compliance with departmental processes. Appendix 5: Supervision File - List of Contents provides details of the minimum contents of supervision files.

10. Record of Supervision (CYP/SUP/2)

10.1 The supervisor should record the supervision session, which should ideally be typed, and provide a copy to the supervisee within 10 working days. Written records are acceptable providing the record is legible. The supervision records should clearly detail any decisions that have been made, and the reasons for these, any agreed actions including who will take responsibility and the timescale for carrying out these actions the records should be signed and dated by both parties.
10.2 If there is disagreement as to the content of the record, this should be recorded by the supervisor. A copy of the supervision notes should be kept by both parties and needs to be signed.

11. Casework Discussions During Supervision

Caption: Casework Discussions During Supervision
11.1 Supervision case discussions are an opportunity to consider, reflect on and make decisions regarding open cases for which the supervisee is responsible. The case discussions should include the following:
  11.1.a Reviewing the last case discussion (where previously discussed) and actions, if not acted upon provide reasons, including the rationale, where a different course of action is to be followed;
  11.1.b Consideration of options where cases may be "stuck";
  11.1.c Considering whether a case management audit is needed;
  11.1.d Discussion of progress on work being undertaken and intended outcomes of our intervention;
  11.1.e Considering whether the case should be closed, if appropriate using agreed 'step-down' processes.
11.2 Prior to undertaking supervision Team Managers of fieldwork services should ask the social worker being supervised to complete the ‘social worker Casework discussion updates form’ for each case. This can be found at Appendix 1: Social worker Casework Discussion Updates Form. The form aims to provide the Manager with an update on each case and make casework discussions swifter and more focused. Although this tool is extremely helpful for casework discussion it is not a substitute for Managers reading case notes/reviewing cases or undertaking case file audits.
11.3 The ‘Individual Caseload Report’ on Mosaic should also be used to aid casework discussions as part of supervisions with a print out being included in the supervisee’s file.
11.4 Report Location - Reports, Reports Library, Notts CC Approved Reports, Children’s, Workload, Allocated and Unallocated Caseloads, Individual Caseload Report (then selected the supervisee). A workload report is also available as a Business Objects report.
11.5 It is not necessary for cases deemed ‘stable’ to be discussed at every supervision session although an update on the ‘social worker Casework discussion updates form’ would be useful. Examples of cases that are deemed stable are: A LAC case in placement for 2 years or a child receiving short breaks for a set period. Despite a discussion not taking place a case note should still be added to Mosaic stating ‘case not discussed in supervision with a clear reason for this e.g. stable case not to be discussed for another 2 months.
11.6 Case discussion notes and decisions should be recorded on Mosaic within 5 working days of the supervision session. Information from ‘social worker Casework discussion updates form’ will form part of this Mosaic record.

12. Supervision Audits


The importance of the provision of regular and effective supervision is captured in the following statements taken from Lord Laming:

"Directors of Social Services must ensure that the work of staff working directly with children is regularly supervised. This must include the supervisor reading, reviewing and signing the case file at regular intervals"
Lord Laming (2003)

The Health and Care Professions Council should review the Standards of Proficiency for social workers and the employers' code ensuring the needs of children are paramount in both and that the employers' code provides for clear lines of accountability, quality supervision and support, and time for reflective practice. The employers' code should then be made statutory for all employers of social workers.
Lord Laming (2009)
12.2 Audit activity is a mechanism to ensure staff are receiving supervision at due intervals, and a means for monitoring the quality of supervision provided and how staff are being developed to meet the needs of the children and families they support.

13. Standards for Measuring the Quality of Supervision

Caption: Standards for Measuring the Quality of Supervision
13.1 Standards for measuring the quality of supervision can include the following factors:
  13.1.a Frequency of supervision provided;
  13.1.b Child centred practice (via supervision case discussion records);
  13.1.c Safeguarding and promoting well-being;
  13.1.d Strengths based and solution focused intervention;
  13.1.e Clarity of case file recording;
  13.1.f Intervention promotes equality;
  13.1.g Case work demonstrates effective partnership working;
  13.1.f Staff development.
13.2 Audits of social care staff supervision files should be undertaken in accordance with the QMF requirements using the Social Care audit tool (Appendix 4: The Supervision Audit Tool).

14. Agency Staff

14.1 This policy is also applicable to all agency social workers and Managers. Evidence of registration with the Health and Care Professions Council and a current valid DBS check, including the date the DBS was undertaken, and references from previous employers should be on Supervision files. Evidence of managerial decision making in relation to offences should be on the supervision file.
14.2 All agency Managers and social workers should receive an induction which includes providing details of this supervision PPG and the departmental supervision policy. The induction needs to include details on the QMF auditing processes and expectations. All of the above need to be evidenced in the agency worker's supervision file.

15. References

15.1 Training, Support and Development Standards and Skills for Care (2008), Providing Effective Supervision.
15.2 Laming (2003), Recommendations of the Victoria Climbié Inquiry, Department of Health and Social Care, Social Services Inspectorate
15.3 Laming (2009), The Protection Of Children In England: A Progress Report,
15.4 Morrison, T (2005), Staff Supervision in Social Care, Pavilion.
15.5 Morrison, T and Wonnacott, J (2010), Supervision: Now or Never Reclaiming Supervision in Social Work
15.6 Munro E (2008), Effective Child protection, Sage publications.


Appendix 1: Social Worker Casework Discussion Updates Form

Appendix 2: Reflective Supervision Discussion Form

Appendix 3: Methods and Tools for Reflective Supervision

Appendix 4: The Supervision Audit Tool

Appendix 5: Supervision File - List of Contents

Appendix 6: Supervision Arrangement Agreement

Appendix 7: Record of Supervision

Appendix 8: Record of Supervision Continuation Sheet