Supervision Policy

1. Background

Supervision has been hailed as the foundation of good social work practice in recent national reports and publications. Lord Laming's 2009 Review of Child Protection in England, Professor Eileen Munro's 2011 Review of Child Protection and the final report of the Social Work Task Force in 2011 all championed the use of effective supervision as a means of improving decision-making and outcomes for children, young people and their families. Furthermore, the 2012 Ofsted report 'High Expectations, High Support and High Challenge' has emphasised the key role that supervision can have in delivering high performing services. leading to better outcomes for children, young people and their families. Supervision is also recognised as a tool to ensure accountability and supporting professional development.

The Social Work Reform Board was established in order to develop the recommendations of the Social Work Task Force to ensure that sustainable improvements are made to social work. Supervision was a key element for development and improvement and the evidence from the Social Work Task Force suggests that there is a need for a set of standards and a supervision framework for all employers of Teachers.

2. Purpose

In recognition of the national context, ACT 2 CAM is committed to:

  1. The ongoing development and improvement of supervision in order to effect the necessary change and create positive outcomes for young people and their families who are in receipt of their services;
  2. Meeting the need for all of its staff members to receive good quality supervision which is of an equitable standard across the service.

This document will provide a framework for the supervision of all fieldwork and managerial staff working for the ACT 2 CAM. This standard sets out how staff can expect to be supervised and provides supervisors with the key elements needed to supervise staff effectively.

3. Applicability

This guidance applies to all teachers and managerial staff ACT 2 CAM. This is irrespective of whether they are on a temporary (including agency staff and students) permanent, full time or part time basis.

4. Roles and Responsibilities

Stephen Woods has overall responsibility for ensuring that supervision is managed appropriately in accordance with these agreed standards.

ACT 2 CAM Senior Management Team are collectively responsible for:

  • Directing and reviewing this standard;
  • Publishing and promoting the adoption of this standard;
  • Ensuring compliance with this standard.

All employees are responsible for implementation of this standard. and responsible for familiarising themselves with, and ensuring that they comply with this standard.

5. What is Supervision

Supervision is a two way, regular and ongoing process to ensure effective service delivery which is child and family centred but also meets the expectations of the organisation.

The process should also include supporting staff in their personal and professional development to build a safe and effective workforce.

6. Functions of Supervision

In recognition of the Standards for Employers of Teachers in England and Supervision Framework there are four main functions to supervision, which are as follows:

6.1 Quality of decision making and interventions

This function is to ensure that there is focus on the challenges faced by Teachers in carrying out their work. Within the context of supervision this would include:

  •  Reflection on what has been done, plans for future interventions and actions;
  •  Discussions on improvements in practice;
  •  A focus on protecting the public and delivering effective services;
  •  Reflecting on classloads, the dynamics of working with families and the emotional and physical impact on staff.

6.2 Line management and organisational accountability

This function provides mutual organisational accountability between the employer and the employee on behalf of the public. Within the context of supervision this would include:

  •  Evaluation of the job and the organisational effectiveness;
  •  Appraisal;
  •  Monitoring the health of the supervisee and referral to occupational health where appropriate;
  •  Consulting and briefing staff in changes and developments affecting their area of work;
  •  Briefing senior managers about key issues and challenges to undertaking the role and related functions effectively.

6.3 Class study and work management

This function considers Class study and workload management. Within the context of supervision this would include:

  • Monitoring the quality and quantity of work being done;
  • Time available to work with children and families directly;
  • How workers can be supported to manage time more effectively.

6.4 Identification of personal learning, career and development opportunities

This function focuses on the developmental needs of the supervisee. Within the context of supervision this would include:

  • Monitoring and promoting continuing professional development;
  • Career development advice;
  • Maintaining a Personal Development Record;
  • Obtaining training opportunities and further qualifications.

The four functions are interdependent and need to form part of supervision. If the supervision were to focus solely on the line management and organisational accountability functions then this would potentially leave the supervisee feeling micro-managed and with a view that the role of supervision is to simply be checked upon.

Supervision needs to move beyond checking and accountability and become a process whereby the worker is able to reflect and learn from their experiences in order to inform their future practice.

"Supervision should be open and supportive, focusing on the quality of decisions, good risk analysis and improving outcomes for children rather than meeting targets."​ (Laming, 2009, para 3, 15).

7. Supervision Agreements

Creating a supportive supervision environment where trust and confidentiality are maintained is essential and supervision agreements can help to support this process. The supervision agreement establishes a basis for which the supervisor and supervisee will work together during supervision sessions. The establishment of a set of "ground rules" will clarify the rights and expectations on both sides in order to create a safe, secure and effective supervisory setting.

The supervision agreement includes:

  • The frequency and duration of supervision;
  • Specific responsibilities of both supervisor and supervisee;
  • The recording of supervision;
  • The arrangements for any informal or unplanned supervision;
  • The practical arrangements (the process if supervision has to be cancelled and/or rearranged);
  • The arrangements for agenda setting;
  • Any specific issues relating to individual supervisees.

All supervisors and supervisees will be expected to sign a supervision agreement. The supervision agreement will be signed within the first four weeks of employment. For existing staff members the supervision agreement will be signed at the next supervision following the introduction of this policy.

Supervision agreements will be reviewed as a minimum on a yearly basis to ensure that they are up to date and reflect the needs of the supervisee. However, it is recognised that there may need to be more frequent updates in line with individual requirements.

Supervision agreements should be saved electronically and stored securely where only managers have access. Supervisees should be given a paper copy to keep for their own records and supervisors should also keep a paper copy within their staff supervision folder which should be stored in a lockable cabinet. Paper copies should be signed by both parties.

8. Minimum Frequency for Supervision

The frequency of formal class and personal supervision will be dependent on the length of time that individuals have been employed within ACT 2 CAM:

  1. Teachers in their first​ year of employment will have supervision on a weekly basis for the first six weeks. Following a six week initial meeting teachers will receive supervision on a fortnightly basis, for a period of six months. After this six month period the headteacher will change to once per calendar month. This frequency will ensure that the supervisee is receiving adequate support from their new employer and is able to develop an effective supervisory relationship from the outset;

  2. Existing staff and those with previous experience​ - Existing staff and new employees to ACT 2 CAM who have previous teaching experience will be supervised at a rate of once per calendar month;

  3. Students​ - Students will receive supervision on a weekly basis

Changes in frequency. There may be particular circumstances that result in the supervisee requiring more than the agreed minimum levels of supervision, e.g. due to the emotional impact of particular classwork or the complexities of a particular class. This will be agreed between the supervisor and supervisee.

9. Agenda for Supervision

It is not expected that each class will be considered at each supervision because this policy recognises that on some classs, there may not have been any significant developments since the last supervision. However, it is expected that at every supervision a class management supervision record will be reported on for each class that the worker has responsibility for. In these instances, a brief entry along the lines of "N​o developments since previous supervision. class to be reviewed again on enter date."​ can be entered into the discussion section of the class management supervision record. By recording a brief entry it recognises that the class has not been neglected or overlooked.

There is a balance to be struck between ensuring that the requirements of ACT 2 CAM are met and for supervision to be flexible and be creative. Being over prescriptive will inevitably lead to dissatisfaction amongst workers however, an agenda does ensure that there is some focus to supervision.

10. Class Supervision

Formal class supervision should follow ACT 2 CAM's supervision agenda.

The agenda items will help to evidence what progress is being made on a particular class and what the outstanding issues are that need to be considered. The supervision will not only enable the supervisor and supervisee to ensure that statutory requirements are being met but also enable the supervisee to reflect on their practice and learn from their experiences to inform future practice and decision making.

It is recognised that not all agenda items will be relevant to each class. The responsibility of deciding which agenda items are relevant on each class, rests with the supervisee and supervisor and is decided prior to supervision taking place.

The following items will form the agenda in ​class​ supervision:

  • Review previous actions;
  • Compliance with statutory requirements, including key dates.
  • Non-compliance should also be noted and the reasons given;
  • Class analysis/reflection. This should include evidence of reflection

and analysis of class;

  • Views of child/young person and/or parent/carer. Specific views on plans, worker relationship and any other examples;
  • Specific decisions/actions. List specific decisions and actions that have been made as a result of the supervision – that is who is responsible and timescales to be included;
  • Class file audit. This should include evidence of supervisor's examination of files within their supervision

11. Personal Supervision

It is important that personal supervision is given the same priority as class supervision. This is to ensure that the supervisee is being supported in their career development and ensuring that they have access to training to enhance their practice. Personal supervision should also serve to acknowledge the emotional impact of the work we do. As Munro states: "The emotional dimension of working with children and families plays a significant part in how staff reason and act. If it is not explicitly addressed and discussed then its impact can be harmful".

In addition, employers need a forum where the quality of practice can be scrutinised, staff's development needs explored, and workers given the opportunity to:

  • Manage anxiety;
  • Consider how their own biases and beliefs may be affecting practice;
  • Reflect on the dynamic of the interaction between themselves and those using the services;
  • Use their intellectual capabilities to form professional judgments, decisions and plans.

Personal supervision should be completed on ACT 2 CAM's Personal Supervision record template

The following Agenda items should be considered during personal supervision:

  • Personal discussion (​This should include enabling the worker to discuss the emotional impact of the work they carry out and support they may benefit from. Include any difficulties the worker is currently facing and how they can be supported);​
  • Professional development discussion
  • Staff and team discussion (​This could include staffd ynamics, staffing levels, team development, and issues of resourcing which may impact on staff);​
  • Health & safety ​(This includes lone working issues, occupational health etc)​; Equality(​Identifying possible discrimination in the workplace with regards to disability, gender, sexual orientation etc. Concerns regarding lack of opportunities to progress etc);​
  • Any other business(​Self-explanatory)​;
  • Actions should have a date assigned to them and it must be clearly recorded who is responsible for completing them;
  • Details of personal circumstances discussed need to be recorded but it is important that the supervisor gives due consideration to how and what is written;
  • The personal supervision record should be stored and locked away in accordance with the Data Protection Act.
  • Recording of reflective supervision.

Reflective supervision is the activity within the supervision session whereby the supervisor asks the supervisee to reflect on certain situations that may require a deeper understanding of how human behaviour and our own interactions with others are having an impact on those situations.

Recording of issues that are relevant to the teacher-student relationship should be summarised on the client file, as discussions which reflect on the planning process are important as they demonstrate the thinking behind decisions taken e.g. risk analysis. The detail of these discussions should not be recorded on the supervisee's supervision file.

It is acknowledged that not all discussions require a reflective approach as some discussions just need a management decision or just confirmation that the work is on track with some suggestions made. However, in certain circumstances, the discussions need to be more reflective and will always inform why certain decisions are taken thereby providing a context to the reader of the file on why those decisions were made.

An example of this would be a discussion about a child who has been on a child protection plan for over 12 months. The supervisor may explore with the supervisee the work undertaken to date and what has been achieved. An explanation as to why certain objectives have not been met may lead the supervisor 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. This reflection enables the worker to step 'outside' of their work and re-examine the work plan. As an outcome of that reflection an alternative plan or a different focus may be agreed.

Recording of this reflective discussion should be included within the class file. However it is important that the supervisor makes the link on the supervisee's own supervision file that a reflective discussion took place. This would allow any auditor of the supervision file to be signposted to the class file that would evidence the reflective nature of the supervision on that occasion.

A statement against the class file number on the supervision file such as "​reflected on plan"​ would be sufficient.

Supervision files will be audited to ensure reflective supervision takes place as required and that the auditor is able to track the evidence from the supervision file directly to the class file.

The supervisor may explore issues that are external to the teacher-student relationship that may have an influence on how we work. This may be related to situations outside of the workplace e.g. family trauma, or situations within the workplace e.g. team dynamics or organisational change.

Recording of issues that are external to the teacher-student relationship must not be recorded on the client file. However, the supervisor may make a summary reference to the issue within the worker's supervision file e.g. "​discussed A.N. Other's position in the team and how the dynamics were affecting her/his ability to perform adequately. Agreed actions to mitigate this.​" In some classs it may not be appropriate to record any or all of the conversation. In other classs it may be appropriate as the supervisor may wish to follow up on any agreed actions of either party in order to ensure the issue was being dealt with.

12. The Recording of Supervision

The recording of the supervision is the responsibility of the supervisor and it is important that the following standards are met:

  • The supervision record follows the ACT 2 CAM supervision agenda as applicable;
  • The content of supervision is detailed enough to ensure that the issues can be understood and that decision made are evidence based.

12.1 class supervision

Class supervisions must be recorded on the electronic record. The supervision form is accessed using the following pathway:

  • Enter the class record of the relevant person;
  • Select supervision form on referral screen;
  • Type in notes;
  • Finalise notes.

As ACT 2 CAM encourage a paperless system, ideally the class supervisions should be typed on to the supervision record by the supervisor at the point of supervision taking place. There will be circumstances where this is not possible. For example, if a supervision room with a computer is unavailable at the time. It may also be that it is not the preferred supervision style of a supervisor and supervisee. In such instances, priority should be given to ensuring that the supervision records should be recorded on the electronic record within five working days of the supervision taking place.

It is important that class supervisions are recorded on to the electronic record in a timely fashion so that in circumstances such as the absence of a supervisee or supervisor, -another worker can pick up the class and have an up to date understanding of what has been happening. It also ensures that decisions and actions resulting from a class supervision are formally recorded at the point of supervisees acting upon these decisions.

The supervision must be verified by both the supervisor and supervisee. Under no circumstances should the administration team verify the supervision records on behalf of managers. The verification process is the equivalent of an electronic signature and therefore is the process by which there is accountability for the decisions and actions which have been taken on a class.

12.2 Informal class supervision

There is recognition within this supervision standard that often, supervisees request advice or decisions on a class within informal settings such as phone calls, whilst making coffee etc. It is important that where significant decisions are made in these informal settings, they are still subsequently recorded on Care Director. This is important in order for there to be a formal record of the decisions being made. This process also evidences the support that supervisees are being given with their classes.

Within the individual supervision agreement between the supervisor and supervisee it should be agreed who will take responsibility for recording the informal decisions that are reached. Whoever takes responsibility for recording the decision should ensure that the other party is sent an email alert to confirm that this has occurred.

There will be times where a supervisee requires a decision in the absence of their supervisor. In these instances the manager should ensure that they

record the decision made as outlined above and send an alert to the appropriate supervisor.

13. The Cancellation of Personal and Class Supervision

Supervision is a joint responsibility and both supervisor and supervisee should honour the appointments that have made. It is recognised that there are some particular instances where supervision will need to be cancelled and rescheduled due to an emergency or due to staff absence.

If supervision does need to be cancelled then it is important that a further date for the subsequent supervision is agreed at the point of cancellation. This ensures that there is no delay and evidences that supervision is being valued.

If class supervision is cancelled this should be recorded on the electronic record (currently under management decision) and if personal supervision is cancelled it should be recorded within a personal supervision template The supervisors should briefly record a reason for cancellation and the date of the rescheduled supervision.

Where a supervisee is on sick leave then the steps above should be taken but it is recognised that a rescheduled date cannot be entered. Instead, it should be recorded that a further supervision date will be arranged within five working days of the supervisee's return to work.

When a supervisor is on sick leave then the steps above should be recorded by one of the other supervisors within the service. It is recognised that a rescheduled date cannot be entered in these instances and instead, it should be recorded that a further supervision date will be arranged within five working days of the supervisor's return to work.

14. Annual Appraisal Frequency/Timing

Individual annual appraisal will be completed by the end of April every municipal year. A progress review should take place six months after the annual appraisal and be recorded on My View by the manager undertaking the appraisal.

15. Confidentiality and Access

Whilst supervision offers a private area to discuss classs and personal circumstances the supervision records cannot be entirely confidential. Supervision records are the property of ACT 2 CAM. There will be occasions where supervisors will need to discuss the content of supervisions [both class and personal] with others, such as their own line manager, Human Resources etc. This should always be with the knowledge of the supervisee.

Reasons why records may need to be accessed are for quality assurance purposes, disciplinary purposes and Ofsted inspections.

Whilst it is recognised that many staff prefer to keep records on computer systems, hard copies of class and personal supervision records should be kept by both parties. These should be stored in a lockable cabinet. This is to safeguard both the supervisor and the supervisee in the class of investigations (e.g. disciplinary or complaint) and to ensure that documents are not altered in any way.

16. Quality Assurance

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 document are being followed:

  • Staff are being supervised effectively and at regular intervals;
  • Supervision sessions are being recorded on the appropriate template;
  • Individual Supervision Agreements are being developed, reviewed and used;
  • The supervision process promotes equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practice.

The quality assurance arrangements involve:

  • Audits of a random selection of supervision files on a six monthly basis;
  • Sharing examples of good practice.
  • Discussion during supervision, for example, between Service Manager and Team Manager, about the Team Manager's practice in supervising their staff;

17. Complaints

If the supervisee is dissatisfied with supervision then in the first instance, this should be discussed with their supervisor to endeavour to resolve the issues. If agreement cannot be reached in this way then the supervisee must raise the issue with the manager of their supervisor.

Last reviewed: January 2021
Next review: January 2022.