PSDP Overview

The Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP) is a significant investment by the Department for Education (DfE) and aims to provide high-quality continuous professional development (CPD) to up to 1000 social workers taking up their first role in which they are responsible for supporting and developing the practice of others.

Key aims and values of the PSDP include empowering practitioners to build confidence, mobilising academic knowledge and practice expertise, and working in partnership with the sector. The programme will also engage with organisational culture, recognising the key role that employers and leaders play in enabling high-quality learning for Practice Supervisors.

Find out more (PDF) if you have been nominated for the programme and would like to know more about the registration process and course structure.


Research in Practice, together with a group of Partners, have formed a Consortium to develop and deliver a national Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP) funded by the Department for Education. This page covers some of the frequently asked questions about the PSDP.

Programme Management and Commissioning

Who is in the partnership?

Research in Practice (RiP) is leading a consortium which includes: The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, University of Sussex and Goldsmiths, University of London. The Consortium is supported by a network of Local Delivery Partners. These are:

Goldsmiths will act as the Local Delivery Partner for London, and University of Sussex will act as Local Delivery Partner for the South East region.


How will the regional delivery structure be managed?

Local Delivery Partners will be allocated course deliveries in their region, dependent on the final design of the programme and taking into account capacity and geographical considerations. The number of course deliveries scheduled will depend on the number of local authorities in each region. The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust will be coordinating and scheduling course deliveries and the designated Learning and Partnership Lead at Goldsmiths University will also be on hand to assist Local Delivery Partners.


What if our local Higher Education Institution / Teaching Partnership is not one of the Local Delivery Partners?

We had to select one Local Delivery Partner per region, which means that some Higher Education Institutions and Teaching Partnerships have not been included as a Local Delivery Partner within our partnership. This is certainly no reflection on their strengths and skills; we just had to be pragmatic. We made selection decisions based on a number of factors, including how long a Teaching Partnership had been operating, how many local authorities were already accessing their CPD offer and so forth.

The PSDP does not replace the wealth of existing CPD provision available. With limited numbers of places on the PSDP, local authorities will need to select carefully which supervisors should attend the PSDP, and should certainly continue to engage with their local teaching partnership / Higher Education Institution. Every effort will be made to ensure the PSDP builds upon and complements existing CPD. Organisations have been invited to submit any materials to the programme, and their work will be fully cited.

Planning the Programme

What will we be doing?

Scoping and surveying the sector to gain an understanding of current best practice and then using this understanding to shape a training and development programme. This programme will be delivered with/through our Local Delivery Partners for up to 1000 newly-appointed Practice Supervisors across England between November 2018 - March 2020.

Values and Principles

What are the key values, principles and related expectations for the wider PSDP partnership?

The programme aims to provide consistent and coherent delivery that is a positive experience for participants and facilitators with the best outcomes for all concerned. We can achieve this by collectively adhering to the principles reiterated below:

Target audience

Is the PSDP just for local authority Children's Services?

Yes, the PSDP was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) and is focused on child and family social work within local authorities. We are, however, very keen to learn from and share learning with the adults' social work sector. Any colleagues wanting to explore this issue should contact .

About the Programme

What are the links with the National Assessment and Accreditation System?

The materials developed for both the PSDP repository and the formal course will clearly reflect – but not be limited to - the Knowledge and Skills Statement (KSS) for Practice Supervisors. The PSDP is developmental, and does not include any formal assessment. The PSDP should therefore be highly valuable and relevant for those going on to undertake the assessment and accreditation for Practice Supervisors, but the PSDP is not intended to ‘teach to the test'.


What does the programme look like and what will be covered?

The PSDP has an applied and experiential framework, which will provide a solid grounding in the values, skills and knowledge that the evidence suggests are important for Practice Supervisors.

The course spans a three-month delivery period and comprises of:

Attendance is expected at all elements.

This full programme aims to support practice supervisors to embed their learning as follows:

Five-day face to face learning

The five days of face-to-face learning will include two residential modules.

Day 1 & 2: Residential – accommodation and meals provided

Day 3 & 4: Residential – accommodation and meals provided

Day 5: Refreshments and lunch provided.

Each day consists of four themed sessions covering topics such as shaping and influencing the practice system; enabling change; emotion in social work; leadership and management and developing excellent practitioners.

Small group practice development sessions:

These comprise of three small group practice development sessions, the first of which takes place during the face to face element of the programme on day 3. These are an opportunity to bring live issues from practice for discussion and reflection with peers and a facilitator, using a specific method of reflection. The practice development sessions (up to 10 participants) will be facilitated by Local Delivery Partners who will discuss with course cohorts the best way of structuring these e.g. face to face or via online platform.

1:1 individual reflective development sessions:

Practice supervisors will have access to specialist 1-1 development sessions from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust to support them in applying their learning from the programme to their practice setting. Structured online self-directed study and reflection is the final dimension of the programme using the Tavistock’s virtual learning environment, Moodle, which will be available as a resource beyond the duration of the programme.

Self-directed study

A range of materials are available on the Moodle. Moodle enables you to access course and other materials as well as book your 1-1 individual reflective development sessions and be part of the online cohort community.


Are we just talking about 1:1 line management supervisors being able to access the course?

No, not necessarily. Practice Supervisors are defined by Department for Education as those whose professional role is to support and develop practitioners who are working directly with children and families. These Practice Supervisors may not hold formal line management roles; they may be called ‘advanced practitioners', ‘consultant social workers', or something similar.

Importantly, the programme is aimed at ‘newly-appointed' Practice Supervisors – this means that participants should have taken on this role within the past 12 months.


Is the residential element compulsory?

This programme is deliberately designed to be an opportunity for participants to fully immerse themselves in learning, which is the primary reason for offering the residential element. Additionally, this is a highly intensive course which will potentially require late finishes and early starts in order to maximise the time and cover the content within the 5 days of face-to-face teaching. We also recognise the advantage of offering networking and shared learning opportunities to participants to further increase the value of the course.

Nonetheless, we also recognise that some participants will be unable to commit to a residential course. As such, we would consider participants' request to opt out of the residential element providing they could commit to attending all session across the 5 days, and these could be as starting as early as 8 am and finishing as late as 7pm. Start and finish times are to allow for a full day of training despite the need for travel time for some delegates on the course.

We will also look to run some non-residential accessible courses if there is high demand after 2019/20.


What if I can't make all 5 days of the face-to-face teaching element of the PSDP?

The expectation for participants signing up for the course is that they will be able to attend all 5 planned days of the programme, and as such we ask that this time will be protected in participants diaries by their managers and we will ask for confirmation of this from both participant and manager as part of the agreement of the Terms of Engagement.

We do however understand that in rare cases, unavoidable and exceptional circumstances may arise that make it difficult for a participant to attend a particular day or session. In these circumstances we will make every attempt to accommodate the participant whilst ensuring the delivery and experience of others is not impacted, but unfortunately we cannot guarantee that they will be able to fully complete the course.

Getting a place

How will places be allocated?

The scoping phase (summer 2018) will determine exactly how the c. 1000 places should be allocated and therefore the exact number of course deliveries. At this stage, it is envisaged that ‘wave one' will allow up to three places per local authority, for the whole of England. We will then pause, analyse take-up and demand, and discuss with Department for Education and sector representatives how the remaining places should be targeted.


How many places will be available per local authority?

Initially, in wave one, there will be at least three places per local authority – totalling just over 450 places. Following analysis, the second wave will be determined taking into account learning from wave one, regional needs, etc and to ensure that we provide access to up to 1000 participants over the two years. This will allow us to understand what is effective and in what context, ensuring the programme has maximum impact.


How many participants will there be per course?

Courses will be delivered to cohorts between 18 and 21 particpants.


How will local authorities get the 'right' people on the course?

The programme is aimed at newly-appointed Practice Supervisors. Employers will be provided with tools to help select prospective candidates and will be encouraged to consider how the selected participants will ensure the wider organisation can benefit from their experience on the PSDP. Additional support will be provided by the Consortium to those local authorities and ‘alternative delivery models' (eg independent tusts) facing specific improvement challenges, to assist them in identifying participants and creating the necessary conditions for effective learning transfer.


Why are we asked to register now when our course delivery isn't until much later in the year?

We need to ensure participants and their managers have as much time as possible to complete the pre-course learning needs evaluation, and to help participants and their employers to ensure dedicated time is blocked out in their calendars and for making any other arrangements to enable them to fully participate in the learning. The course is proving to be very popular and we would like to ensure that all Local Authorities / independent trusts have an opportunity to take up their places before we offer them to candidates on the waiting list. To do this effectively we need all registrations completed with a long lead in time in order to identify spare places and offer them to those on the waiting list.


Are there any pre-course requirements?

Yes, we are keen to retain a focus on learning needs and achievements throughout the programme. This is to ensure that participants are able to recognise the value, impact and benefit of the learning and transferring it into practice.

A pre-course requirement to confirm a place on the course is completion of a three-fold evaluation process. This comprises of a self-evaluation, a managers evaluation and a guided conversation with one or more supervisees. This provides an indication of the objectives you want to focus on and acts as a baseline for measuring progress. The participant and their manager are also required to sign a Terms of Engagement document as both an individual and organisational commitment to allow protected time for this important CPD initiative.

Participants risk losing their place on the course if these pre-requisites are not completed prior to the course starting. The PSDP Team are available to support participants and their managers to complete the evaluations where necessary.

A pre-course reading list will also be provided to help you prepare and benefit fully from the topics covered in the programme.

Course Delivery

Who will facilitate the course?

Facilitators will be identified by the Local Delivery Partners. Each course will have two facilitators who will be experienced practitioners with experience of continuing professional development (CPD) delivery and/or will be experienced CPD facilitators from a local Higher Education Institution with good knowledge and understanding of practice. As part of their engagement with the course, these facilitators participate in a Community of Practice which will ensure the core values and principles are embedded across all Local Delivery Partners and that a consistent body of knowledge is applied across all delivery. Peer review activities between Local Delivery Partners will also quality assure the consistency of course design and delivery.

Outside the criteria

What about participants not being put forward by their local authority? Or those that work outside of local authorities?

An open access online repository will be created so that all social work professionals can engage with high-quality materials to support their own professional development.


How are you making sure the sector is involved in your work?

The course itself will not start until November, as we are undertaking a comprehensive scoping and design phase. This phase includes:


What about service users?

We have worked with a number of organisations to ensure that we heard from children, young people, parents and carers about what makes a good Practice Supervisor. This was done through focus groups, surveys and other consultation activity. We are grateful to the following organisations for their help with this work: Barnardo's; Become; Catch 22 / National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum; Family Rights Group; Grandparents Plus and TACT.


How can I/my organisation submit CPD materials to the programme, and how will the work be cited?

We are inviting colleagues across the sector, including Higher Education Institutions and training providers, to share existing CPD materials that are useful to Practice Supervisors. If included in the repository, they will be fully sourced and credited.

Organisations should not submit any CPD materials that they do not have permission to share – for example if the intellectual property rights belong to someone else. We appreciate that it will not be appropriate to share some CPD materials, for example if they are commercially sensitive, but we hope that organisations will contribute what they can in order to share learning across the sector.

A call for practice was issued on Monday 11 June. There is a short submission template that should be returned to: with the subject heading ‘CPD materials'.

If materials are to be included in the repository, the PSDP team will contact submitters to ensure that we have the correct citation, as well as any organisational logo and further reading links. Materials may be adapted, and original sourced materials will be clearly referenced.


Will participation in the PSDP be accredited?

There won't be any formal academic accreditation, as this was not part of the contract with the Department for Education. However, all candidates who successfully complete the programme will receive a certificate in recognition of their participation. An inclusive and flexible approach to recognition will be offered with two tiers of award as agreed by DfE.

Level One - PSDP Certificate of Participation will be awarded to participants who have:

Level Two - PSDP Certificate of Completion is optional and will be awarded to participants who hold a Certificate of Participation and have:

Find out more about the PSDP Reflective Log

Submit your PSDP Reflective Learning Log

Data Protection

Who will have access to data about participants?

The events team at RiP, together with Local Delivery Partners, will have access to the basic data they need to book people onto the course/s. Only The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust will have access to sensitive/ personal data (eg scores from individual skills analysis exercises, etc). Nobody else – including other Consortium members and the Department for Education – will be able to access individual participant data. Aggregated data will be available so that course take up can be monitored and promoted.

We recommend that participants and their line managers discuss the Learning Needs Evaluation responses. Where requested Manager LNE's will be shared with participants.


Is there a cost associated with this programme?

The PSDP programme is funded by DfE, so there is no direct cost to LAs or participants apart from their travel costs to the face-to-face course (which are being delivered in regions to reduce the travel costs). PSDP is funded by public money – please help us to ensure maximum value is achieved from this investment by keeping us informed if you/ one of your nominated participants are no longer able to take up the place on the programme so we can reallocate it to someone else.

Learning Transfer

How can organisations support participants’ learning on PSDP?

We have developed a report which explores how organisations can support participants’ learning on PSDP based on our delivery of the programme during Wave 1 (Sep 18- July 19). This focuses on the role which organisations play in supporting participants to make the most of the learning opportunities available during PSDP and continue to develop their skills and knowledge after the programme has ended. You can find the full report here. A short summary report is also available here.

Tell us about it

Compliments, Concerns and Complaints Procedure

We hope there will be more Compliments than Concerns or Complaints around the PSDP and its delivery. However we acknowledge that there is room for continuous improvement so we want participants, their employers, facilitators and all partners to express any complaints and concerns and of course compliments where appropriate. Find out more.

Contact us

If you have a question that hasn't been answered, please contact

For any further information or clarification on any aspect of the Programme, please contact us.