PSDP - resources and tools for Practice Supervisors

This website contains resources and tools to support practice supervisors in child and family social work who are responsible for supervising the practice of others. Many of the resources are adapted from teaching materials used on the Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP).


Any leader knows that first-line practice supervisors are one of the most important roles. As a leader you are entirely dependent on their sensibility, capability and resilience.
Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families


Movie icon Chief Social Worker for Children and Families

Isabelle Trowler talks about how important the practice supervisor is in child and family social work. You play a key role in ensuring social workers provide an excellent service to children and families. This means that it is essential that you have opportunities to continue to develop your skills, reflect on your learning and be introduced to new ideas.

PSDP is a high quality continuing professional development programme for practice supervisors in England who have made the transition from social worker to first-line manager. Over one thousand practice supervisors will take part in the programme, which is funded by the Department for Education, between October 2018 and February 2020. PSDP focuses on six key aspects of professional leadership as a practice supervisor.

Being a practice supervisor is a skilled and challenging job. You are responsible for the quality of service which children and families receive. You also play a key role in supporting your supervisees to become emotionally resilient practitioners. One of your principle tasks is to provide reflective supervision which guides ethical and proportionate state intervention in family life. The relationship which you develop with your staff team is critical in supporting and sustaining their ability, and motivation, to forge similar relationships with children and families.

The resources and tools in this website are designed to support individual learning and development and to extend skills and knowledge in these aspects of your role. The importance of building strengths-based relationships with children and families, which allow their voices and experiences to be heard and understood, is a key theme throughout.

This website is a resource for all practice supervisors in child and family social work regardless of length of time in role or experience. The materials draw on research and practice evidence, as well as learning from the lived experience of children and families, to support practice supervisors in key aspects of their role. They have been developed in consultation with experts by experience, social workers, first-line managers, Principal Social Workers and academics.

The materials are informed by the Knowledge and Skills Statement (KSS) for child and family practice supervisors. The focus on promoting strengths-based and relational approaches to child and family social work, which features throughout, means that  much of the content will also be relevant to practice supervisors working in other settings.

How to use the resources in the website

The learning resources are organised into six key themes:

Your Journey to Being a Supervisor

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Understanding the Lived Experience of Children and Families

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Emotions, Relationships and Resilience in Child and Family Social Work

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Talking about Practice in Supervision

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Developing a Culture of Excellent Social Work Practice

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Maximising your Impact as a Practice Supervisor

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In each section you will find a mixture of knowledge briefings, audio podcasts, presentations, films and learning tools.

Learning tools can be used to review and audit your skills or learning needs in a particular area. Some provide information about approaches to use in supervision discussions which are helpful for practice supervisors. Other learning tools are designed to be used as discussion prompts in individual or group supervision with your team. All resources have been developed specifically for practice supervisors.

The resources and tools are designed to be quick and easy to use. The exception to this are the knowledge briefings which provide a more detailed overview of a topic area.

Many of the learning tools can be used flexibly. At the end of each tool we provide brief suggestions about other ways you can use the tool in one to one supervision or in discussions with your team.

Each section also has a briefing for senior managers which highlights key messages for organisations to consider, focusing on how practice supervisors can be supported to work more effectively in relation to each topic area. The last section of the website ‘Maximising your impact as a practice supervisor’ provides you with an opportunity to review your learning and support needs and plan how you can continue to develop as a practice supervisor.

You can work through the sections in order or dip in and out.  Each contains a range of tools which are designed to cater to different learning styles. Please use the tools as you see fit. Some of the tools in different sections are similar. This is intentional given that we are focusing on the importance of relationships and promoting reflective discussions in supervision throughout. If you don’t find a tool useful or find that the focus is too similar to another – please feel able to select tools which are more suited to what you need.

We hope that you find these resources useful. Please share your thoughts and learning with us in conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #PSDP

Film icon Film – The inspiration behind PSDP - Resources and Tools for Practice Supervisors

This short film explains the inspiration behind the PSDP - Resources and Tools for Practice Supervisors

Movie icon Practice supervisors’ perspectives

In this short film practice supervisors, who attended the PSDP, talk about the benefits of having time and space to develop their skills and knowledge further and the impact of this on the quality of work with children and families.