Developing the Skills of Your Team Members

Providing high-quality services that make a positive difference for children and families is the raison d’etre of social work. Practice-focused supervision that addresses what social workers should do and, crucially, why and how they should do it is best placed to support high-quality direct practice.

This section focuses on how you can support and guide your supervisees to deliver excellent social work practice with children and families.

Knowledge Briefing – Promoting high-quality practice

This knowledge briefing is written specifically for practice supervisors. It includes key messages from research and practice evidence about:

  • How practice supervisors can support and motivate social workers to develop a clear conceptual framework about what excellent social work practice is (and why this is important).
  • How practice supervisors can support and mentor supervisees to be ethical social workers who understand how to intervene effectively and build relationships with children and families to support a change process.
  • The importance of practice supervisors observing supervisees in practice with children and families and providing clear, developmental feedback about this.

Challenge questions and reflective prompts are included to help you consider how you might use these ideas in your role as practice supervisor.

Practice observation tool

It is important for practice supervisors to observe social workers working directly with children and families and provide feedback which supports their development. This tool helps you structure feedback on practice observations to focus on key communication skills which research suggests are essential in child and family social work. The tool can also be used as a prompt for discussion in group supervision to develop shared understanding about what kind of communication skills social workers need for excellent social work practice to occur.

Helping social workers prepare for practice observations

This learning tool provides guidance about how you can help social workers prepare for practice observations. The tool introduces a number of key areas and questions to consider in reflective discussion with your supervisee in order to help them prepare for and receive feedback from a practice observation.

Giving feedback to social workers in your team

Giving clear, constructive feedback to a supervisee about any aspect of their work or practice which requires improvement can be challenging as a practice supervisor. This tool helps you review how effective you are in setting standards and providing guidance about how you want work with children and families to be progressed in order to ensure that they receive an excellent social work service.

The social discipline window

The social discipline window is a core element of restorative practice which illustrates that families are more likely to be motivated to make changes if social workers work collaboratively with them. This tool includes prompt questions which can be used to help social workers evaluate their practice skills and consider how they can work purposefully and collaboratively with families.