Early Years PVI Safeguarding Supervision & Policy Guidance, Luton

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Early Years
  • Safeguarding
  • General resources

Basic details

Organisation submitting example

Luton Borough Council [commissioned provider In Trac]

Local authority/local area:

Luton Borough Council

The context and rationale

This example relates to the commissioning of the development, roll out and embedding of safeguarding supervision across the Early Years Private, Voluntary and Independent workforce. It involves identifying the process taken and highlighting the way in which it was founded within LSCB good practice expectations. 

The idea
• Once the Early Years Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) sector gained a representative voice at the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) groups, it became evident that there were key areas where risk was considered to be high due to the apparent lack of compliance measures around PVI safeguarding interventions. The lack of baseline evidence and inability of the LSCB to be reassured that the sector could fully meet increasing responsibilities in contributing to keep children safe at the earliest opportunities, created the need to action plan. This was in order to demonstrate reassurances to the LSCB that the sector could contribute effectively to the Local Authority (LA) early intervention programme. With the increased focus on safeguarding and agency involvement the lack of supervision and risks associated with staff not receiving appropriate support became clear. Therefore, it became clear that there would be a need to build the capacity of the sector to be able to provide supervision within its organisations. The LSCB focus on early years was recorded within their auditing programme; this ensured that the key areas were revisited on a regular basis to determine if the planned interventions were in turn reducing risk across the sector. 
• The aim was to commission the development of co-produced safeguarding supervision policy guidance with supported training to roll out across the private, voluntary and independent Early Years settings including Children Centres. This included supporting the development of the workforce skill set to deal with their increasing remit around early concern identification and the potential impact this has on staff. It was needed to help embed the significant changes that have evolved around the sector’s safeguarding responsibilities and the way in which this is moderated and monitored. The LSCB was keen to support the non statutory sector to hold itself accountable for their safeguarding responsibilities. Identifying professional support, appropriate training opportunities and practice development was considered pivotal in order to enable and support the development of appropriate safeguarding cultures. It was decided that supervision needed to be owned by the sector as it would be non sustainable for the LA to own this process, nor would it be practicable in operational terms.


• The additional driver besides the need for LSCB reassurance was the publication of the Plymouth Serious Case Review, which highlighted the lack of supervision as one of the key contributory factors in the development of an inappropriate safeguarding culture. Once released, it was anticipated that this was likely to be an area that would be picked up by Ofsted. The revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and focus on supervision has confirmed this.

• When considering who would be best placed to work with us in a commissioned process, advice was sought from the LSCB who had used the services of the selected company in the past. The work was underpinned by Working Together 2010, the Early Professional Development Supervision Guide, The Laming Report 2009, Morrison & Wonnacott 2010, Broadhurst et al 2010. The process was built on the published research identified above and others. The research information was then used to develop a fit for purpose model for a sector where formal supervision had not historically played a specific role. Similar models were not found elsewhere.

• To introduce effective supervision and help participants to develop the skills and knowledge to deliver effective safeguarding supervision.

Underpinning principles

• Child’s needs and welfare are of paramount importance.
• Commitment to equal opportunity.
• Responsibility to take appropriate action to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.


• Well qualified workforce with robust processes in place to support the safeguarding and welfare of children;
• More resilient staff who are better able to deal with the increasing concerns they will encounter given the focus of the early help agenda and expectations of the universal provider;
• Recognition from the sector that working with safeguarding concerns is complex and emotionally demanding;
• Workforce who are responsive and proactive in recognising potential harm to a child and work effectively within a multi agency context, to address children’s needs;
• Improved outcomes through early recognition, appropriate action taking and reflection on learning.

The practice

Process towards implementation – The How

• The PVI early year’s sector has a representative voice on the LSCB groups through the Luton Borough Council workforce development role. While early years is not a statutory partner for the LSCB, within Luton much work has been undertaken to ensure this sector has robust processes in place which are regularly quality assured. Through this mechanism it was identified that the sector was not as robust around safeguarding, including supervision, as some of the other agencies represented. This was evidenced through a range of LSCB auditing tools, including case files and multi agency engagement quality measures. Findings were collated and presented to the LSCB on a regular basis, which then contributed to the action planning to develop supervision across this sector. 
• Following the publication of the key learning from the Plymouth Serious Case Review which was disseminated through Luton’s well developed PVI Designated Officer Group and which highlighted a need for Ofsted to address gaps in supervision/performance management, it was anticipated by the LA that supervision would be likely to feature in the proposed Early Years Foundation Stage revision. It was decided to consider options that would support the sector in developing robust systems that would incorporate safeguarding supervision. Advice was sought from the LSCB and LA around commissioning an appropriate agency in order to co produce the guidance and training delivery.
• A proposal was developed and we sought approval to commission; this approval process included the Departmental Management Team and the LSCB. The proposal clearly set out the need for the sector to be fully engaged with the initiative, as without this level of buy in the system, it would not be sustainable.
• The LA engaged with the agency (In Trac) who had historically provided supervision training for the LSCB to develop localised model for delivery.
• Information packs and marketing materials were developed and rolled out to the sector through distance and face to face sessions. This ensured that from the very early stages all plans for development were shared with and shaped by the sector. Presenting all the information together from idea to how it fitted in with SCR responses, LSCB requirements and potential regulatory body statutory requirements set a framework around which to achieve sign up. The well established Designated Officer group provided a vehicle to identify groups of supervisors and supervisees and the expectations for all involved. 
• Targeted booking for providers into supervisors and supervisee groups for training delivery followed on from the foundation work. Time was taken to engage with the providers on an individual basis to book them onto the session most appropriate for them, as either supervisor or supervisees. By including both elements, the intention was to embed a better understanding across a staff team from leader through to staff as to what this could look like in practice. 
• Quality assured training was delivered;
• Supporting guidance was distributed, including working templates.
• Feedback from a consultation with the workforce about the guidance was then incorporated into the final version. Throughout the roll out of the initial sessions all materials were held in draft. Providers were encouraged to feed into the materials in order for them to be owned by the sector once the main roll out of training was completed.
• The final guidance was issued.
• This was followed up with skills workshops four months after initial roll out of guidance. This supported supervisors to develop further skills and it also encouraged peer support and problem solving.
• Practitioners then began to develop their own working agreements, measured through the use of LSCB interagency safeguarding audits which are applied universally as a matter of course across all providers in Luton.
• Impact continues to be measured through the LSCB self audit process and data will continue to be collected and presented to the LSCB executive as part of the quality assurance process.

Stakeholders Involved

In Trac, the Early Years and Childcare Safeguarding Lead and Workforce Development Manager, Luton Borough Council, all of Luton’s Private, Voluntary & Independent settings [excluding childminders] and the Children Centres.

Training Package

The training package included:
Safeguarding supervision face to face training for:
Supervisors – targeted for those delivering supervision to staff
Supervisees – targeted for those receiving supervision.
The aims of the training were:
• to consider what is safeguarding supervision
• to consider why it is important
• to consider what is effective
• the role of the supervisor/supervisee
• skills knowledge of the supervisor
• use of authority
• accurate listening
• learning style
• Kolb learning style.
The training included work on the draft supervision policy, which then went out to the sector for final consultation before printing and dissemination as both hard and electronic copy. The four functions of supervision were covered, models for use discussed and a wide range of supporting materials and templates provided for personalisation and use. Delivery used a range of techniques including interactive input from delegates.
The policy guidance included:
• Introduction
• What are safeguarding responsibilities of early years and childcare staff?
• Why is safeguarding supervision important?
• Aims of the policy
• Objectives of the policy
• The principles underpinning policy 
• Purpose and Scope
• Definition of safeguarding
• Functions of supervision
• Supervision methods and frequency
• Which children will be discussed?
• Roles and responsibilities
• The supervision agreement
• Difficulties in the supervisory relationship
• Supervision agenda
• Confidentiality
• Monitoring and review
• Nine appendices providing a range of working templates to support the process.

Supervision skills workshops

Designed to build on the introduction to effective supervision in order to help participants to develop/enhance the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver effective safeguarding supervision. These workshops consisted of some taught input, with a focus on skills development and use of tools and frameworks for effective practice, looking at interactive role playing and the analysis of practice dilemmas. Other input included: learning styles, emotional intelligence and parental styles and links to supervision.

Final element yet to be completed

Anticipated to run January 2013 is a drop in supervision support session with a focus on practitioners dropping in to discuss development so far, identify further training and any targeted support to further embed the model. At this stage the supervisors and supervisees will be contributing to identifying and analysing which elements work well and which would require further support to develop. Early indications suggest group supervision where providers have no specific child protections cases but do work with emerging needs is developing well. Supervision is being recorded effectively and actions, including further training, are being identified. Individual supervision where Child Protection cases or those with multi agency involvement is working well across the Children Centre Merged Model and links directly into cases. PVI providers are developing in this area as well but at a slower rate. This will be part of the focus of the drop in supervision session. One of the barriers they face is confidence within their own skills set to fully engage with actions and measure outcomes. However, that said, we would have anticipated that we would be at this stage at this point in time. 

Evidence and evaluation - making a difference to children, young people and families

Staff involved

• Within the LA, one staff member was directly involved in the development of the project and roll out of the programme. The auditing of implementation and progress forms part of the work of a team of three led by the newly titled Early Years Foundation Stage Safeguarding and Welfare Manager. In total 69 provisions were invited to participate in the initiative. This would equate to approximately 69 leaders/managers/owners and a further 69 staff representatives of the supervisees (potentially 138 staff) who then disseminated the messages into their service delivery. In addition to this and since the programme, the Children Centres have become engaged and the centres have restructured into merged hub and spoke models, so this would represent a further seven managers. While it is fair to note that not all providers physically engaged in the roll out of the face to face sessions, all materials where shared and compliance is measured across all providers and is reported to the LSCB. The changes to the revised EYFS places supervision as a must, therefore it is also measurable by the regulatory body and forms part of wider performance mechanisms.

Performance measures/Data

• Success will be measured by the implementation of effective safeguarding supervision processes across the sector. This will be undertaken using the LSCB supervision audit tool and in the interim period measures will be taken using the revised LA quality monitoring EYFS universal tool.
• It is also anticipated that provider emerging need recording which is captured using Luton’s Case Recording processes will highlight need, intervention, outcomes and will then be directly linked into supervision records. This could be in both group and individual supervision records, which will then in turn link into provision performance management systems.
• It is anticipated that by the end of this financial year we will be in a position to count where emerging need is identified, what actions are taken, and the impact on outcomes which would include a move from targeted input back into universal services. Early counting is already in place in Luton’s merged Children Centre Model. We have also had the development of a children centre referral form for the Early Years PVI sector where they can approach their linked CC for additional support around low level emerging needs which may not hit the threshold for other agency involvement. These interventions will then form part of supervision discussions.
• Feedback from the sector and engagement in further initiatives. 
• Few Ofsted actions or inadequate judgments in relation to safeguarding at point of registration or inspection. 
• Sector engagement with the LA early intervention agenda.
• Stronger, more resilient workforce.
• Predominantly using the auditing process to measure before and after impact of all our interventions. Supervision forms one part of this. 
• Base auditing indicated that most providers had no formal processes in place for carrying out supervision and had limited understanding of its function. This finding was consistent across the whole of the sector and there was little in the way of any performance management functions, in particular systems to challenge under performance. 
• Post auditing – early indications suggest that work across many settings is underway to formalise agreements and to start the cycle of supervision. In many settings group supervision is already operating and being recorded. Further clarity is expected around complete measures by the end of November 2012, once the revised EYFS requirement becomes statutory. Early indicators through the Ofsted judgements in relation to ‘the effectiveness of leadership and management of the early years provision’ are also expected. Ofsted will pay regard to evidence of monitoring; coaching; mentoring; support; impact of child protection training on improving children’s well-being; how well safe practices and a culture of safety are promoted and understood and that high quality supervision is provided.


• As noted, early indications already indicate a changing culture across the sector and we will have more quality measures available in the early part of 2013. 
Difference made
• Predominantly around the expectations set for the sector, which should place them in a stronger position to deliver early help/intervention. We expect to see an increase in pre CAF/CAF use post September 2012 which will further evidence the impact of the work undertaken. This will provide evidence of the level of early help being identified and held within universal / targeted service delivery. Early counts are indicating an increase in single agency emerging need identification, response and links to supervision. In many provisions where emerging needs are below multi agency engagement thresholds, we are seeing the use of group supervision. Where children are receiving multi agency involvement, 1-1 supervision is developing. Work has yet to be undertaken around measuring the effectiveness of the interventions which is clearly linked to improving outcomes for children and families.
• We will help LA teams to determine where to best place resources on a universal / targeted response basis.


• This is an area that will require further development. At this stage feedback and engagement with families is through the Luton Case Recording Procedures, whereby, when a provider has a concern a dialogue is had with the family in order to identify how best to support moving forward. If they continue with a single agency intervention, they would be working with the family around actions and outcomes which would all be recorded in a chronological fashion. The outcomes of such dialogues would then be incorporated into the supervision framework both on case loads and on an individual staff basis if required. 

Sustaining and replicating your practice

Sustaining practice

• Auditing processes – once the self audit has been completed, random sampling of LSCB formulated supervision auditing will be carried out relating to the EYFS safeguarding & welfare statutory requirements.


• The training package with supporting materials and roll out costs in the region of £18K, which equates to a unit costing per setting of approximately £257. While we are still in the early stages of measuring impact, initial indications are good. The auditing, inspection outcomes and setting organisation all suggest that the funding invested is having a positive impact on the organisational culture.

Learning from experience

• In isolation this training would not have had a significant impact; it sits within a raft of other interventions that have been undertaken to up skill the workforce to meet the increasing needs of children and families. Success is increased if the vision around what you hope to achieve is clear and the quality measures are well appointed, transparent and realistic. The thread throughout is the desire to provide high quality experiences for children and families which will ultimately impact on improved outcomes. In order for this to be successful investment has to be made by way of commitment and focus, there is no quick win to improving safeguarding cultures, other than through hard work from all agencies. One key measurement of success has been around the inspection outcomes for safeguarding, nationally Ofsted indicate 18% of early years providers rank as good or outstanding, in Luton this rises to 32%. Audit evidence also indicates a higher level of engagement with changing agendas. The workforce is better skilled, is engaging with other agencies, raising its own challenge, identifying concerns and responding appropriately [to date] when disclosures are made.


• We continue to encounter barriers around bringing on board providers who struggle with the changing agenda. The changes to the EYFS will positively drive change forward in those areas.
• While reducing resources does potentially impact on the ability to sustain initiatives, as much of the work around introduction was carried out prior to substantial financial reductions, we have had a foundation to work from. The success was dependent on the engagement of the sector; therefore, one of the key challenges is around the strength of the relationships with the sector in the first place. By having strong relationships, where the safeguarding agenda is also driven by the LSCB which incorporates quality assurance measures, this helps embed expected levels of working practice.
• Another challenge is the shifting focus on priorities driven by central government funding. Where the potential is for focus on non statutory sectors to be reduced, it makes it more difficult to embed change. This is currently addressed in Luton, by building LSCB safeguarding compliance into all Code of Practice expectations; this includes the need for supervision and audit compliance. Supporting teams then structure their support, challenge and intervention in relation to the priority grouping of the provider, interventions are then provided accordingly.
• Ensuring long term sustainability across the sector – this is always a challenge. At the moment we are working with the LSCB and sector to identify potentially 19 PVI safeguarding champions who will fly the flag both in their own organisations and those of others. This launches in November 2012.
• One of the biggest challenges is the supervision of supervisors. Currently they are working on a location model where small groups of providers come together to supervise each other. In other provisions, it is managed between the supervisor and the named deputy in a reciprocal model. While it is not for the LA to dictate how it should look as we would want to see elements of localisation, the LA team is supporting providers to find a solution which best fits their situation/circumstances. 


• There is no reason why this initiative could not be replicated, providing the support and vision to carry it out is in place. However, it is more likely to be successful where you can dedicate resources including support to create a firm foundation which includes LSCB involvement throughout the process. 

Core Leadership Behaviours 

The following eight core behaviours have been identified as part of successful elements of leadership (see National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services/C4EO (2011). Resourceful leadership: how directors of children’s services improve outcomes for children. Full report. Nottingham:NCSL.

All of the eight leadership behaviours below apply to this example.
1. openness to possibilities

2. the ability to collaborate

3. demonstrating a belief in team and people

4. personal resilience and tenacity

5. the ability to create and sustain commitment across a system

6. focusing on results

7. the ability to simplify

8. the ability to learn continuously.

All eight characteristics were equally important within the example of service redesign provided; successful leadership ultimately has a positive impact on the services provided for children and families and will contribute to longer term sustainability. 

Luton Borough Council believes the development of effective safeguarding supervision contributes to creating a safer working culture within an organisation which is only fully realised when the above leadership elements are in place. Research indicates there is a strong link between supervision and improved outcomes for children and families. Leaders in high performing companies have twice as much emotional intelligence as those in low performing organisations – self awareness, self management, empathy and social awareness, inter-personal skills and awareness of values (Goleman, 1998). By ensuring service redesign involved both managers and employees it was anticipated that organisations via their leaders will be able to effectively shape their own service delivery which will be sustainable and will contribute to safer working practices. This in turn strengthens the sector’s self belief and enables them to create systems that support individuals, teams, children and families. 


Broadhurst et al (2010). Ten Pitfalls and how to avoid them. Available at www.nspcc.org.uk/inform
CWDC/Skills4Care (2007). Providing Effective Supervision: Effective Workforce Development Tool. Leeds: CWDC/Skills4Care

Goleman, D. (1998). Working with Emotional Intelligence. London: Bloomsbury Publishing

HM Government (2010). Working Together to Safeguard Children. Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Laming, Lord (2009). The protection of children in England: a progress report. London: The Stationary Office.

Morrison, Tony & Wonnacott Jane (2010). Supervision: Now or Never Reclaiming Reflective Supervision in Social Work. Available at www.in-trac.co.uk/reclaiming-reflective-supervision.php

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