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2.5 Professional Supervision


This chapter describes Hertfordshire Children's Specialist and Safeguarding Service (CS&SS) arrangements for the professional supervision of all social work practitioners and managers. Purpose, method and standards are described and links provided to the Supervision Agreement Template CSF4333F1 and to the Child Specific Case Supervision Form CSF 3655 and Staff Welfare Performance Development Supervision CSF4333F2.

Please note that on 1 August 2012 responsibility for the professional regulation of social workers transferred to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC has issued new Standards of Proficiency which replace the GSCC Code of Practice.

See HS020 Lone Working Personal Safety Guidance and CSF3573 Personal Safety Procedure.

Please also see CSF4624 - Evidence Informed Practice Strategy.

Please also see Lone Working Guidance Procedure

A flowchart setting out the Professional Supervision Process is available here.

Templates are available on Compass and the relevant numbers are provided.


In August 2016, the definition of Reflective Supervision was added to Section 4, A Model of Reflective Practice.


1. The Scope of this Professional Supervision Policy
2. The Objectives of Professional Supervision
3. The Functions of Supervision
4. A Model of Reflective Practice
5. Principles and Expectations for Professional Supervision
  5.1 Supervision Agreement
  5.2 Staff Welfare, Performance and Development Supervision
  5.3 Case Supervision
6.  Recording of Case Supervision
7. Supervision Files
8. Recording of Management Decisions
9. Recommended Further Reading

1. The Scope of the Professional Supervision Policy

This professional supervision policy applies to all social care workers and managers in CS&SS.

It is consistent with the overarching CS&SS Performance and Management Development scheme and meets the particular requirements of social care workers.

The policy reflects the standards issued by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

In particular:

  • As a social care worker, you must be accountable for the quality of your work and take responsibility for maintaining and improving your knowledge and skills.

This includes:

  • Meeting relevant standards of practice and working in a lawful safe and effective way;
  • Seeking assistance from your employer or the appropriate authority if you do not feel able or adequately prepared to carry out any aspect of your work or you are not sure how to proceed in a work matter;

  • As a social care employer, you must have written policies and procedures in place to enable social care workers to meet the requisite standards set out by HCPC.

This includes:

  • Effectively managing and supervising staff to support effective practice and good conduct and supporting staff to address deficiencies in their performance.

The policy reflects the standards of the audit of services to children in need in response to the practice recommendations of the Victoria Climbié Inquiry.

2. The Objectives of Professional Supervision

Professional supervision is a process in which the supervisor enables guides and facilitates the social care worker's development and need for support, in meeting certain organisational, professional and personal objectives. This occurs during formal prearranged meetings and in less formal day to day case discussions, termed here as informal supervision. Development and support needs of supervisees should be addressed. The records of supervision should enable a child to understand the reason for provision of services if s/he accesses his/her file.

These objectives are:

  • To improve the quality of services to children and families and outcomes for children;
  • To ensure the supervisee is clear about roles and responsibilities;
  • To recognise the impact of what can be stressful work with children and families on the supervisee and agree ways to manage stress;
  • To debrief and offer support following significant events that have impacted on the supervisee;
  • To consider the supervisee's personal safety when undertaking his / her work and take action To identify the supervisee's learning and development needs and arrange to meet them through the use of courses, coaching, mentoring, job shadowing, research and literature and peer learning sessions;
  • To signpost the supervisee to useful literature and research, and the policy and procedures, to support evidence informed practice;
  • To maintain a record of the supervisee's learning and development as in the Performance Management Development Scheme;
  • To provide feedback to the supervisee on his / her practice and performance and identify any actions for improvement, and acknowledge evidence of professional development and competence. (See Paragraph 6.41 of The Munro Review of Child Protection: Final Report (2011);
  • To monitor the supervisee's progress in meeting the continuing professional development requirements for registration as a social worker (if applicable);
  • To put in place appropriate safeguards as necessary to ensure work is carried out safely e.g. social work visit by manager, involvement of further professionals;
  • To consider the resources the supervisee has available to do their job and discuss issues arising where they are not adequate;
  • To provide a positive environment in which social work practice can be discussed and reviewed. Professional challenge about casework practice, assessment, analysis and decision making between the supervisee and supervisor is an essential part of effective supervision and should take place in a respectful and child focused manner;
  • To ensure the worker's and employer's practice accords with the professional standards issued by the HCPC;
  • Professional supervision is the key process for balancing professional autonomy with responsibility to the service user, professional ethics and standards, along with accountability to Children, Schools and Families and society as a whole.

3. The Functions of Supervision

Management Function

  • To ensure CS&SS policies and procedures are followed;
  • To maintain clarity about key roles, responsibilities and accountabilities;
  • To review agreed objectives and priorities for work and record progress;
  • To monitor and regulate workload;
  • To agree and record timescales for the completion of tasks and record any reasons for delay;
  • To make decisions about cases and record them;
  • To identify and allocate resources to accomplish tasks or obtain authorisation's for proposed expenditure;
  • To monitor case recording undertaken by the supervisee and ensure it meets departmental expectations and for the supervisor to record that scrutiny on the paper and / or electronic case file;
  • To ensure the supervisee is clear about what work has been allocated to them, what action is required and how that action will be monitored and reviewed;
  • To identify any matters that need to be escalated to senior managers;
  • To consider progress on individual cases, including assessment, planning, intervention and review and to allow reflection on the effectiveness of the casework;
  • To identify risks arising from non engagement of families and amend plans accordingly.

This policy has been revised to extend the understanding and use of Reflective Practice to incorporate a recommendation from two recent Serious Case Reviews in Hertfordshire

Reflective thinking should be part of every supervision session, though not with every case. It should enable the Manager to get a clear understanding of a case, particularly where plans are not progressing and Management direction might need to change. It should assist the supervisee to gain insight into their practice and seek support if they require it. It is about creating a culture of openness.

4. A Model of Reflective Practice

Reflective Supervision

Reflective Supervision should be offered on a regular basis in the context of a collaborative relationship, providing opportunities for the individuals involved to reflect on hands on work and provide an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of a situation, become more aware of their own reactions and responses to the service user, how they intervened and the consequences of their intervention.

This relationship based reflection provides opportunities for ongoing professional self -evaluation. The relationship models that of the social worker with the service user (one which promotes partnership working, and uses motivational interviewing techniques). It aims to create a culture of intellectual enquiry, to promote empathy and support long term professional development.

Sessions incorporate discussion about intervention goals, the process of service delivery, values, reactions and emotions, identification and analysis of pertinent knowledge, risk assessment, use of self and exploration of healthy scepticism.

Supervisees are encouraged to explore other ways of working with a variety of client interventions.

These approaches encourage supervisees to become more creative, develops critical thinking and problem solving skills, and their decision-making processes.

The process of reflective supervision should include:

The Experience

This is where the supervisor elicits a clear description of the task and what the worker experienced by asking questions and seeking clarity. An important element of this stage is that the supervisor is clear about the intended task and whether it was achieved or not.


The supervisee is encouraged to explore the feelings evoked by the task or experience and think about what this might mean for the child, family or themselves. Without this, subtle yet important clues to family functioning might go unrecognised.


The supervisor and supervisee need to evaluate their perceived knowledge and beliefs about the case. They need to make judgements and decisions based on observations, evaluation of information, available evidence, wider experience, reflection and consideration to relevant research.

Plans and Actions

Where critical thinking and critical reflection have occurred, realistic and safer plans can be developed. Actions can be explained and justified. Timescales and contingency plans should also be considered and agreed.

For professional development or problem solving to be fully effective, all four parts of the learning cycle need to be engaged. External reflective supervision, should develop workers own 'internal supervisor'.

Additionally The Munro Review of Child Protection 2011 Chapter 6 states that 'Social work involves forming relationships with children and families to understand them and help them change. This has implications for how they are managed and supervised to minimise bias, help them articulate their reasoning, draw on research evidence, and manage their emotions to reduce the risk of distorted reasoning. It also states that 'Gut feelings are neither stupid nor perfect. They take advantage of the evolved capacities of the brain and are based on rules of thumb that enable us to act fast. Critical challenge by others is needed to help social workers catch biases and correct them - hence the importance of supervision.

Where supervision includes children who are subject of a Child Protection Plan for chronic neglect, Team Managers must consider the need for regular independent review of the home conditions, review chronologies and written agreements. (This specific requirement has come about following a series of management reviews). Chronic neglect has devastating effects on children and the causes of neglect need to be identified and addressed or legal advice sought on thresholds for care proceedings where there is no sustained improvement to the child's circumstances.

5. Principles and Expectations for Professional Supervision

Supervision will take place within the supervisor's and supervisee's paid hours of employment. In some parts of the service e.g. Residential Care it will be appropriate to make minor adjustments to the forms

Supervision will take place in an area where case details can be discussed without being overheard, that has sufficient space for case files to be read and where interruptions can be kept to a minimum. Access to LCS and other electronic records should be available.

Both supervisee and supervisor must be prepared for formal supervision session. For example supervisees must be able to give an update on children identified for discussion in the previous supervision.

Supervision should reflect understanding and commitment to diversity and equalities issues. To ensure equality of opportunity it is necessary to have an understanding, and to work sensitively and knowledgeably, with diversity to identify the particular issues for a child and his / her family, taking account of experiences and family context. Hertfordshire County Council's "Putting People First" Policy (Under the Equal Opportunities Policy Tab) should be followed.

If the supervisor is absent from work for a period longer than four weeks alternative formal supervision arrangements should be put in place within the following week. In any urgent situation a staff member should approach a manager for directions or support.

Any supervisee who is concerned about the quality or quantity of supervision received should discuss this with the supervisor and, if this does not resolve the matter, with the supervisor's line manager.

Managers should in their recording of professional supervision ensure that they explicitly record both evidence of reflection, the worker's understanding of the principles of good practice, including equality issues, their learning needs and how they will be addressed, and how the worker is being supported to exercise professional judgements rather than purely the meeting timescales and tasks.

5.1 Supervision Agreement

All social care workers should have a written supervision agreement which is consistent with this professional supervision policy. It should be reviewed at least annually and at each change of supervisor. (Please see Supervision Agreement Template CSF433F1).

5.2 Staff Welfare, Performance and Development Supervision

The new separate element of supervision is the staff support element. This will be recorded on a new form, covering the following headings:

  • Well-being/Impact of Work on Staff Member;
  • Annual Leave/Toil;
  • Health;
  • Learning and Development;
  • Team Issues;
  • Feedback to Senior Management;
  • Performance, including Values and Behaviours. 

Information from this record should be used to capture evidence within the Performance Management and Development scheme. It should be used pro actively at mid point and final reviews. The paper record should be placed on the staff’s supervision file, and a copy given to the supervisee. It is not typed, and should not be entered on the LCS record.

This supervision session must be at least once every 8 weeks.

5.3 Case Supervision

All social care workers in CS&SS will receive formal case supervision sessions at least once a month (with the exception of the Independent Review Team and the Child Protection Team, when individual supervision will be every two months and additionally group practice sessions every two months). This includes part time and agency staff. The frequency of supervision may be increased if the worker is new in post or inexperienced or if the job they undertake requires it. For example workers in an Assessment Team may require more frequent supervision because of the short timescales involved.

Supervisees and supervisors will select which priority cases will be discussed in each session; it is not necessary to discuss every allocated child each session, but each child (that continues to receive a service from CS&SS) must be discussed at least once every 12 weeks, and that discussion must cover the developments, against the Care Plan, since the last formal supervision discussion. These discussions may not all be full reflective discussions, but two cases ( i.e. two single children/two  sibling groups) must have a reflective supervision discussion each supervision session. Social Workers  are required to update Chronologies and Case Summaries for these children on LCS following this reflective supervision, and using the analysis derived from it. 

6. Recording of Case Supervision

Supervisors need to use (new) Form CSF 3655. This will be provided by Business Support at each supervision and are to be handwritten by the manager. The headings are shown below, and should be completed thoroughly. The aim is to demonstrate that cases have been considered for safeguarding, effective planning and the avoidance of drift, and the impact of services on the child and family.

  • Current Situation;
  • Matters Arising from Previous Supervision;
  • Risk Assessment;
  • Analysis (this should be completely comprehensively when the case is subject to reflective supervision);
  • Achieved Outcomes for Child Since Last Supervision;
  • Management Decisions;
  • Actions.

The completed form should be passed to the Support Officer to type into the child’s LCS supervision casenote. The Support Officer will also enter the management decision into the LCS management decision casenote. The supervision monitoring form can also be completed at the same time. The casenotes must be added within 2 working days of the supervision session.

7. Supervision Files

Supervision files should include CS&SS Performance Management and Development records as well as records of  staff welfare performance and development  supervision sessions and should be kept in a locked cabinet or drawer. The supervision file is the property of Hertfordshire County Council.

8. Recording of Management Decisions

To record a management decision, go into Casenotes and click on Create Casenote. Hover over the space, and a drop down will give options for the type of Casenote. Select Management/Panel Decision and then enter the required information. (Please see screen shot below).

Recording a Management Decision

Managers are responsible for ensuring the decisions that they make, outside supervision, are recorded on LCS. They may ask another member of staff to enter it on LCS and finalise the casenote.

Decisions of Herts Access to Resources Panel (HARP) are recorded on the Management/Panel casenote tab by the Social Worker. Other Panel decisions (e.g. MAP or Adoption Panel) should all be recorded using the same tab.

It is essential that all formal decisions about the child are recorded under the Management/Panel Decision tab. In this way, it should then be possible to track all decision making through a case, no matter what the pathway.

9. Recommended Further Reading

  1. Staff Supervision in Social Care. Tony Morrison Pavilion - Chapter 5;
  2. The Munro Review of Child Protection: Final Report (Munro, 2011) - especially chapters 6 and 7, and paras 6.41.