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1.1.5 Supervision Policy


Caption: contents list
1. Introduction
2. Objectives & Scope of the Supervision Policy
  2.1 Definition of Supervision
  2.2 Guiding Principles/ Anti-discriminatory Practice
3. Purpose and Functions of Supervision
4. Professional Capabilities Framework for Social Workers
5. The Relationship between Supervision and the Appraisal process
6. The Conduct of Supervision
7. The Recording of Supervision
8. Potential Disagreements
9. Confidentiality & Access
10. Supervision Contract
11. Quality Assurance
  Appendix 1: Supervision Contract

Appendix 2: Supervision Monitoring Form

Appendix 3: Supervision Record – Managers

Appendix 4: Staff Management Portfolio Essential Information

Appendix 5: Contents

Appendix 6: One to One Supervision Feedback Form

Appendix 7: Supervision Audit Tool

Appendix 8: Record of Case Supervision

1. Introduction

This policy provides a framework for staff and managers on the requirements for the effective and consistent supervision of all staff employed within Cumbria County Council Children's Services.

Supervision is a key component in supporting staff as part of the council's performance management framework. Cumbria County Council, Children's Services encourages a culture where supervision is experienced by everyone as a valued activity – an activity that supports, assures and develops the knowledge, skills, values, performance and accountabilities of an individual, group or team in order to improve the quality of their work. It provides an opportunity for staff and managers to identify service issues, objectives and learning and development needs and most importantly leads to better outcomes for children and young people.

The policy embeds the basic principles of supervision and complements the council's Appraisal and Workforce Development Strategy. The purpose of supervision is to ensure that staff are properly managed, supported and developed to enable them to deliver services competently and effectively. It also ensures that standards of service delivery are maintained and consistent and that staff are engaged effectively in achieving departmental objectives.

While this policy is principally aimed at the supervision of front line social care staff, the broad principles hold true for the supervision of all staff. As such supervisors or line managers of staff who are not delivering front line social care services should be guided by the spirit of the policy and should comply with as much of the guidance as possible and is relevant.

2. Objectives & Scope of the Supervision Policy

Cumbria County Council’s Children’s Services aims to provide appropriate, responsive and flexible services to the most vulnerable children and families of Cumbria and can only do this if the staff are employed;

  • Understand what is expected of them;
  • Have the skills, knowledge behaviours, values and attitudes necessary to carry out their role;
  • 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 all staff, including those on agency or temporary contracts can expect to be supervised; and provides managers with the key elements needed to supervise staff effectively.

Relief staff, sessional, casual or agency based staff should be given appropriate supervision of their work, reflecting their levels of responsibility and in accordance with national and professional standards where these apply.

As a result of multi-disciplinary teams and emerging partnership agreements, employees from different agencies may also be regarded as supervisees. Supervisors will need to ensure that there is an agreement at an early stage in the partnership and clarity about responsibility for clinical or professional supervision and managerial accountability.

The objectives of this policy are to:

  • Provide a framework for managers and employees for effective supervision supported by management, monitoring and quality assurance processes;
  • Clarify individual responsibilities for the supervision process;
  • Ensure staff can have a two way discussion with their supervisor about their:
    • Workload;
    • It’s complexity;
    • Any related risks and issues.


  • Competence, accountability and empowerment;
  • Anti-discriminatory practice, valuing equality and diversity within the supervisory process and with children and young people;
  • Effective safeguarding practice for children and young people;
  • Continuous improvement of service provision and performance;
  • Wellbeing, and health and safety of all Children’s Services staff;
  • Staff feeling valued and able to share good practice, knowledge and skills across the organisation; and
  • Provide clear links with the Appraisal and Workforce Development Strategy and the Performance Management Quality Assurance Framework for case file audit and quality assurance processes.

2.1 Definition of Supervision

Supervision is the process through which managers and staff communicate with each other to ensure that they properly equipped and supported to discharge their duties and responsibilities to the required standard within their working agreement.

2.2 Guiding Principles/ Anti-discriminatory Practice

Although a supervisee is accountable to the organisation through their supervisor, consideration must be given to the power balance in supervision and the needs of supervisees who could be the subject of discrimination through race, gender, disability and sexuality. The supervisee may need additional support and/or guidance outside of supervision for example through a mentor or an appropriate staff network.

A key responsibility for all managers is to ensure that every effort is made to provide non-discriminatory services. Staff members and their managers should examine, in supervision, how far this is being achieved, and how service delivery can be improved. Where significant gaps are identified within service the supervisor has a responsibility to advise the responsible Senior Manager.

The following are the guiding principles for Supervision:

  • Every member of staff has a right to supervision. The length and duration of formal supervision meetings is set out in the schedule of supervision arrangements at appended to this of this policy;
  • Supervisors and supervisees share responsibility for the effectiveness or supervision, ensuring the quality and safety of work tasks and professional practice within agreed timescales;
  • Supervision provides assurance to service users and their carers that the directorate is accountable for practice and professional standards, effectively monitors work, secures progress on individual cases and executes service plans. Integral to this is decision making, review, and recording of actions required of both supervisee and supervisor;
  • Supervision is essential to the management of the service and to individual practice, aiming to ensure that staff are supported in managing the personal impact of working with vulnerable children and their families. Supervision is also the process in which the departmental standards and expectations are met and recorded;
  • Supervision provides a critical two-way mediation function, ensuring effective communication and engaging the individual member of staff in the overall objectives and work of the department.

3. Purpose & Functions of Supervision

There are three main functions of supervision, management of performance, learning and development and support in relation to work.

  • Line Management - is about accountability for practice and quality of service. This includes managing resources, delegation and workload management, performance appraisal, duty of care, support and other people-management processes. It will include ensuring Cumbria’s Policies, Practice Standards and Procedures are followed, e.g. identifying performance/ capability issues at an early stage so remedial actions and support plans can be put in place. Addressing human resource issues such as sickness absence, annual leave and time off in lieu;
  • Professional Supervision - to enable and support quality practice. A key aspect of this function is reviewing and reflecting on practice issues and the implications for the employee’s welfare. This may include reviewing roles and relationships, evaluating the outcomes of the work and maximising opportunities for wider learning. It will include reviewing progress against agreed action plans and ensuring actions are carried out;
  • Continuing Professional Development - to ensure that a worker has the relevant skills, knowledge and understanding and attributes to do the job and progress their careers. Constructive feedback and observation of practice will be a part of the learning process for employees and supervisors. This will include recording good practice and reflecting on effective service delivery from compliments, comments and complaints, feedback from customers, stakeholders and other professionals.

The three functions are interdependent, that is one function can not be effectively performed without the others. A balance should be achieved of all three functions rather than an over emphasis of the one.

4. Professional Capabilities Framework for Social Workers

Supervision is one part of the capability framework that is essential to have in place. The elements form a continuum as follows:

The professional supervision and continuous professional development of a qualified social worker in a position which requires a social work qualification must be carried out by a supervisor who has a social care qualification.

  Managing the Business Supervision Appraisal

Typical frequency* (See Section 6 ASYE)

As required on any working day.

Weekly during the first 6 weeks; fortnightly for the remaining 6 months and then monthly for the following 6 months.

12-monthly with

6-monthly review.

Dealing with day-to-day issues as they arise.

Line management. Professional supervision. Continuing professional development.

Longer term Performance Appraisal and Development within objectives framework.

Characteristics Ad hoc, as required.

Planned and structured. Some preparation.

Planned and structured. Significant preparation.

(* See also Section 6, Conduct of Supervision for additional information)

5. The Relationship between Supervision and the Appraisal process

Supervision is at least a monthly one-to-one meeting between the supervisor and the supervisee in order to meet organisational, professional and personal objectives. It will inform the Appraisal process. Each employee has an appraisal carried out each year with their line manager, and reviewed after six months. The Appraisal process provides the opportunity for each employee to understand and agree their contribution to the strategic priorities of Cumbria County Council, by setting personal targets and related actions. Furthermore, within this process the supervisee's professional and educational qualifications are subject of review and verification. The Appraisal process arrangements provide a vehicle for line managers to monitor progress against the service improvements and performance indicators for which individual officers are accountable. This provides the 'golden thread', linking high level objectives to individual work programmes through to outcomes for children young people and their families.

Training and Development and the Appraisal process are not a replacement for good supervision.

6. Conduct of Supervision

Apart from the ASYE, the frequency of supervision meetings should be agreed between supervisor and supervisee and written in the supervision contract.

Dates and times will be arranged in advance. Any arrangements will only be changed by mutual agreement and a new arrangement will be made for the earliest possible time/date and where cancelled because of staff absence through sickness must take place within seven working dates of return to work.

ASYE Social Workers will be supervised weekly during the first six weeks of their appointment and then, fortnightly for the remaining six months and then monthly for the following six months of the ASYE programme. The aim is that ASYE social workers have a structured supervision session lasting no less than ninety minutes.

The length of supervision may vary depending on the experience and capability of the supervisee.

Practice guidance

All allocated cases will be discussed a minimum of every 3 months and management oversight of formal supervision to be recorded on ICS 'Case supervision'.




Physical arrangements for supervision sessions will ensure as much privacy as possible and prevent interruptions from other staff or the telephone. The supervision will cover the agenda items set out on the supervision records template plus other items by mutual agreement, for discussions and decisions about significant events must be recorded to demonstrate management oversight.

7. The Recording of Supervision

The recording of supervision is the responsibility of the supervisor. The records must outline the issues discussed, the decisions reached and actions agreed. The detail included is a matter of judgement for the supervisor but in general terms the record should be detailed enough so the issue can be revisited. A short summary of the discussion and the decisions or action points arising from it should be sufficient in most cases. Notes of supervision sessions must be kept.

All other areas of the supervision discussion must be legible and sent to the supervisee within ten working days. If this is not possible they should be with the supervisee before the next supervision session. The records must be signed and dated by both supervisor and supervisee. A copy should be retained by both parties.

The supervision file remains the responsibility of the line manager and is the property of Cumbria County Council. If line management responsibilities change or are relinquished, supervisees should be advised, in writing, who the interim/replacement supervisor will be, and given the location details of where their file is being held, until the first meeting under new arrangements with their new supervisor.

Maintaining appropriate and accurate records is a professional activity and a requirement of Cumbria County Council for all staff. Where there is a repeated failure to do so managers are required to take firm and prompt action through the council’s HR procedures.

For audit purposes the supervision file should be divided into sub sections and the information held should be filed in accordance with the agreed file format (see Appendix 5: Contents)

  • Annual feedback system will be completed by each senior manager for all staff within their services and fed into other quality assurance arrangements.

(See Appendix 6: One to One Supervision Feedback Form).

Where a staff member moves to a different post their supervision records will be transferred to the new supervisor.

Within ten days of an employee leaving Cumbria County Council the Supervision Contract and Supervision notes are passed to Human Resources to be placed with the personal file to be archived.

Supervision recoding by Supervisor must be entered onto iTrent after each supervision.

(See Appendix 2: Supervision Monitoring Form for guidance).

8. Potential Disagreements

If there are difficulties and disagreements, it is expected that in the first instance, supervisor and supervisee take personal responsibility for making every effort to resolve the issue within the supervision session. Areas of disagreement between the supervisor and supervisee will be recorded on the staff supervision records and not on the child’s record. Areas of disagreement that cannot be resolved should be referred to the supervisor’s line manager. This should be done with the knowledge of both parties.

9. Confidentiality and Access

Supervision is a private but not a confidential process. This means that the records are the property of the organisation, not the individual. From time to time supervisors will need to discuss the content of supervision sessions with others, e.g. their own line manager.

Access to supervision records should be controlled and all records be securely locked away to ensure confidentiality. They must not be held on unsecured drives/areas`. Supervisees should be aware that other than themselves and their supervisor records may be accessed by others for purpose of audit and inspection.

10. Supervision Contract

Every supervisee will have an individual supervision contract with their supervisor which will be reviewed at least annually. The process of developing this contract is as important as the written document itself (see Appendix 2: Supervision Monitoring Form).

The purpose of a contract is to establish the basis for which the supervisor and the supervisee will work together during their supervision sessions. This should be done through negotiation and should clarify the rights and expectations on both sides to create a secure and effective supervisory relationship.

During the contract meeting the following should be discussed.

  • The purpose of supervision and individual responsibilities within it;
  • The frequency and duration of supervision;
  • The arrangements for agenda setting;
  • The venue;
  • The recording of supervision;
  • Confidentiality;
  • Addressing performance/ capability issues;
  • Dealing with disagreements;
  • The practical arrangements for setting dates/cancelling and rearranging sessions.

11. Quality Assurance

In order to be effective the supervision process requires monitoring and quality assurance arrangements. This process will ensure that

  • The standards of supervision as outlined in this policy are being followed;
  • Staff are being supervised effectively and professionally;
  • Supervision sessions are being recorded;
  • Individual supervision contracts are being developed, reviewed and used;
  • The supervision process promotes equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practice.

The quality assurance arrangements involve:

  • The auditing of a random selection of supervision files on a minimum 6 monthly basis by relevant managers and the audit and practice development team. (See Appendix 7: Supervision Audit Tool);
  • Annual feedback form will be completed and co-ordinated by relevant senior manager;
  • Staff can see that their supervision record and feedback is being looked at by someone other than their line manager;
  • To provide managers with summary analysis to improve quality going forward and to triangulate with directorate wide data and analysis to provide quality audits;
  • Supervision recording by Supervisor must be entered into iTrent after each supervision;
  • Senior Managers will regularly run reports from iTrent to check on the recording of supervisions.


Click here to view Appendix 1: Supervision Contract

Click here to view Appendix 2: Supervision Monitoring Form

Click here to view Appendix 3: Supervision Record – Managers

Click here to view Appendix 4: Staff Management Portfolio Essential Information

Click here to view Appendix 5: Contents

Click here to view Appendix 6: One to One Supervision Feedback Form

Click here to view Appendix 7: Supervision Audit Tool

Click here to view Appendix 8: Record of Case Supervision