Standard 5 - Supervision

This standard is about making sure students and qualified practitioners can reflect critically on their practice through high quality, regular supervision being an integral part of social work practice.

Someone giving a helping hand to another

This will start with students on placement, continue with the ASYE, and then throughout the individual’s social work career. Supervision should challenge and foster an inquisitive approach to social work.

Supervisors’ practice and skills should adhere to the post qualifying standards for social work practice supervisors in adult social care or the post-qualifying standard: knowledge and skills statement for child and family practice supervisors. Practice educators supervising student social workers should adhere to the Practice Educator Professional Standards (PEPS).

Frequency of supervision

All employers should:

  1. ensure that supervision takes place regularly and consistently and lasts for an uninterrupted duration of at least an hour and a half
  2. make sure that supervision takes place:
    • for students on placement - as agreed with students and programme providers
    • for newly qualified social workers - at least weekly for the first six weeks of employment of a newly qualified social worker, at least fortnightly for the duration of the first six months, and a minimum of monthly supervision thereafter
    • for social workers who have demonstrated capability at ASYE level and above - in line with identified needs, and at least monthly.
  3. ensure that they have a policy in place which governs supervision, and which:
    • locates responsibility for that policy with the principal social worker or other appropriate senior manager
    • requires the actual frequency and quality of supervision to be monitored against clear expectations.

Quality of supervision

All employers should:

  1. ensure that social work supervision is not treated as an isolated activity by incorporating it into the organisation’s social work accountability framework
  2. promote continuous learning and knowledge sharing through which social workers are encouraged to draw out learning points by reflecting on their own practice in the light of experiences of their peers
  3. promote the use of supervision as an opportunity for social workers to critically reflect on, and identify their learning needs, using evidence, research and other social work frameworks where appropriate
  4. actively use the regulator’s professional standards as the basis for supervision, including evaluating capability and identifying development needs, ensuring that social workers are able to draw on and use additional resources such as the professional capabilities framework and knowledge and skills statements to develop their day-to-day practice and skills base
  5.   ensure that supervision supports students and qualified social workers to meet the regulator’s professional standards
  6. provide regular supervision training for social work supervisors
  7. assign explicit responsibility for the oversight of appropriate supervision and for issues that arise through supervision
  8. provide additional professional supervision by a registered social worker for practitioners whose line manager is not a social worker.

Useful resources

Post-qualifying standard: knowledge and skills statement for child and family practice supervisors 

SCIE supervision guides

BASW supervision policy

SCIE Research briefing 43: Effective supervision in social work and social care

Reflective supervision