City of York Logo

Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

12.1 Supervision Policy and Guidance to Staff


The Guidance has been written for all staff and managers within City of York Children’s Social Care for whom accountability for casework is a core function of Supervision.


In November 2015, Section 6 Supervision Standards was updated with regard to Professional Supervision and Case Supervision.

This chapter is currently under review.


  1. Introduction to the Guidance
  2. The Context of Supervision
  3. Definition of Supervision
  4. Link with Professional Development Review
  5. Reflective Supervision
  6. Supervision Standards
  7. Auditing and Quality Assurance

1. Introduction to the Guidance

The Guidance is for all staff and managers within City of York Children’s Social Care for whom accountability for casework is a core function of Supervision. It is not therefore applicable to administrative staff.

2. The Context of Supervision

The Guidance is informed by the standards issued by the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) in relation to the practice of Supervision.

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.

And, in relation to Children’s Social Care as an 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.

3. Definition of Supervision

Supervision is defined in this guidance as:

The regular one-to-one planned meetings which take place between a member of staff and a manager who has responsibility for the quality of their casework, professional development and individual welfare. Its purpose is to ensure that the best possible outcomes are obtained for service users, and that staff receive effective personal and professional support to achieve this”.

Supervision is the primary means by which social care staff are supported to fulfil the professional and organisational requirements placed upon them by their work roles. Informal case discussions, Team Meetings, group discussions and professional development opportunities also support staff and complement formal supervision. They are not however to be regarded as an alternative to formal Supervision. Recorded one-to-one meetings - Supervision - with a manager remains the central feature of personal and professional support and development within Children’s Social Care.

4. Link with Professional Development Review

Every Supervision session should include a discussion regarding professional development. These discussions should contribute to the annual Personal Development Review (PDR) process. Following the annual Review, the objectives set in the PDR will be reviewed and monitored within Supervision. In this way, there should be a clear link between the two processes.

5. Reflective Supervision

The Case Supervision section of the Supervision Record requires the Supervisor and Supervisee to discuss cases reflectively. The record prompts consideration of all four elements of the Supervision Cycle - experience, reflection, analysis and action planning. For problem solving to be fully effective, all four parts of the cycle need to be addressed. Rushing or skipping the reflective and analytical stages of this process might provide a quick fix solution, but could also increase the likelihood of problems reoccurring as it will not have been addressed sufficiently. The level of reflective discussion should be lead and determined by the Supervisor, informed by a consideration of risk, complexity and progression of a case.

The Experience - Telling the story

For this the social worker needs to tell the story (the main issues of the case) of the child and family that they are working with. Often this could include engaging with multiple stories such as those of different family members who are involved. The story also includes the worker’s observations on how the user has interacted with them emotionally, their presentation during assessment or discussions with the family, children and young people and how they have interacted with others (i.e. other agencies, members of the public etc) The discussion will also include the social workers own responses and actions to the those they are working with. The social worker should seek information from other agencies who are involved as this will provide additional information and will add an extra dimension to the story and situation.


Reflection explores feelings, patterns and connections arising from the experience. It is also through exploring emotions that social workers identify what values or assumptions are triggered during the time they are involved with the child and family. It needs to be noted that social work can produce strong emotional and moral responses that need to be acknowledged and processed during this supervision process.

The Social Worker needs to consider that the child and family’s feelings and responses to them may be compounded by pervious unresolved stories of loss of powerlessness. These earlier issues may include patterns, habits and learned responses, such as an inability to trust or previous social work involvement and that this may create further difficulties and complicate the current story/intervention.

It is important for the social worker to recognise that there may be earlier stories or experiences of resilience, courage or care that act as potential strengths or protective factors. These are important to also explore during the discussion.


Reflecting on the story should lead to analysis. If the Social Worker is unable to reflect fully then false and subjective conclusions may be drawn. Analysis will support the social worker in ensuring that evidence and feelings are located within an external body of knowledge, theory, research and professional value, and then tested against it. Analysis translates information and observations into professional evidence. It will support the social worker to make sense of the situation and sense of their assessment, intentions and plans.

Analysis should incorporate the meaning of the issue for the child and family as well as the social worker and the organisation. If analysis is not done and things do not happen the way considered, it will be impossible to understand why. This will also prevent social workers from being able to learn from difficulties or to improve their practice.

Action Planning

In order for effective services to implemented, the analysis of the situation needs to be translated in to plans and actions which will be specific, measurable, and achievable and within a realistic timescale (SMART). At this stage within the supervision cycle goals needs to be set and practical options examined. Before the social worker tries out a new approach or a change of tack, the supervisor may need to go through the plan with the social worker, facilitate co-working or identify contingency plans.

6. Supervision Standards

6.1 Supervision Agreement

STANDARD 1: Supervisory relationships must be based on a written agreement between the Supervisor and Supervisee

All supervisory relationships should be built on explicit understandings, as opposed to assumptions, between the two parties about the process. To facilitate this, a Supervision Agreement (see template on Mosaic) should be completed between the Supervisor and Supervisee whenever a new supervisory relationship begins, or is renewed after an interval such as an extended period of sickness absence or other extended leave.

The Supervision Agreement forms part of the Professional Supervision Record for the individual staff member. A completed Supervision Agreement should be read and checked for accuracy by both parties and then e-signed by both parties as a formal indication that the record accurately reflects the discussion held.

6.2 Frequency and Duration of Professional Supervision

STANDARD 2: Professional Supervision must take place at least once a month

The standard minimum requirement for Professional Supervision for all Children’s Social Care staff is once a month. The requirement for applies to all staff regardless of their status, including students, agency, temporary or part time staff.

The duration of Professional Supervision will depend on how familiar the supervisor is with the Supervisee and any personal and professional issues the supervised person wishes to raise

It is noted that the frequency and duration will need to be adapted in particular circumstances. For example, Social Workers subject to ASYE requirements or newly appointed staff will require more frequent supervision, as will any who have a temporary need for additional support, for example if returning to work after an extended absence or subject to Capability procedures. Any change to frequency should be recorded within the Supervision Record with reasons given.

6.3 Frequency of Case Supervision

STANDARD 3: Case Supervision must be systematically undertaken, proportionate to risk and complexity, and not less than every three months

The standard minimum requirement for Case Supervision for all open cases is once every three months. This timescale is a ‘backstop’ to ensure there is regularity to Supervision of every case whilst acknowledging that certain cases will achieve a degree of stability of risk and complexity.

It is an essential part of Case Supervision that it the frequency of the Supervision is proportionate to the risk and complexity of the case. Determining whether a case should be discussed is a partnership between Supervisor and Supervisee with both enabled to ‘table cases’ for discussion. Ultimately, the Supervisor has responsibility for deciding which cases are discussed more frequently than every three months.

6.4 Content of Supervision

STANDARD 4: Both Professional Supervision and Case Supervision must be based on a standard format

In order to ensure a consistent approach to both Professional and Case Supervision, standardised formats must be used to structure the discussions and subsequent recording. The formats on Mosaic act as a prompt to ensure that all elements of Supervision are covered.

6.5 The Production and Distribution of Supervision Records

STANDARD 5: A written record of Professional Supervision and Case Supervision must be produced by the Supervisor and then jointly agreed with the Supervisee

It is the responsibility of the Supervisor to record the discussions that take place within both Professional and Case Supervision on Mosaic using the templates provided. Whilst recording methods may vary - some Supervisors will hand write notes within Supervision, some will type - it is the responsibility of the Supervisor to ensure that the completed Records of Professional and Case Supervision accurately reflects the discussions held. Whilst it is acknowledged that the written record will not be a verbatim record, the final Records of Professional and Case Supervision must nevertheless be as accurate a record as possible of the discussions held and care needs to be taken by both Supervisor and Supervisee that the records do not omit significant information.

6.6 Storage and Archiving of Supervision Records

STANDARD 6: Supervision records must be stored securely

From January 2016 both Professional and Case Supervision will be recorded on the appropriate Forms on the Mosaic Case Management System. This will ensure that they are stored securely. Copies should not be stored outside of Mosaic given the sensitive nature of the information contained - both personal information and information on service users.

6.7 Access to Supervision Records

STANDARD 7: Supervision records must be confidential but accessible

The City of York permits Professional Supervision Records to be accessed by third parties - other than the Supervisor and Supervisee - only for prescribed purposes, namely where Management and Supervision responsibility is transferred, where there is a formal concern about the work of an individual, or for audit/quality assurance purposes. If either a supervisor or a supervisee considers that a Professional Supervision record should not be read by a third party because it contains sensitive or personal information, representations should be made to a more senior manager for the relevant section to be removed. The final decision will be taken by the Assistant Director, in the light of any relevant legal or HR advice available.

With regard to Case Supervision, the record will be part of the case record for the child and will be subject to case file permissions.

6.8 Retention and Destruction of Supervision Records

STANDARD 8: Supervision records must not be retained any longer than necessary

Professional Supervision Records are the property of the Supervisee and City of York Council. The Supervisee will have access to Mosaic and should be encouraged to retain a record for their own reference. With regard to the copy retained by the City of York on Mosaic, copies will be retained for a minimum of three years after the departure of a staff member from the employment of City of York and then deleted.

With regard to Case Supervision, the record will be part of the case record for the child and will be subject to case file retention and deletion criteria.

7. Auditing and Quality Assurance

Periodic audits of the frequency and quality of supervision against the standards in this Guidance will be undertaken on no less than an annual basis. Additionally, an annual Questionnaire to staff about their perception of the quality of their supervision will be undertaken.