What does #supervision really look like for a #DSL? @AndrewHall2015

Andrew Hall andrew.hall@safeguardinginschools.co.uk writes amazing Safeguarding briefings which get emailed out.  Short, sharp but exceptionally helpful they often raise awareness but also reassure Designated Safeguarding Leads.

This week he discussed supervision for DSL and broke it down into three aspects that we need to consider:

·         Oversight of the issue

·         DSL personal experience

·         and the stress of the role

Twitter is full of comments about how depressing safeguarding training or Child Protection training is, so the actual reality of dealing with these issues must be worse. It doesn’t just effect DSL but the whole team and it is for this reason that I have just invested in supervision for my school nurses. Our school counsellor is now available every week for an hour for the 6 part time nurses to discuss matters. I did consider if I should set up the same for myself however as line manager to the counsellors I am not sure that I would feel comfortable use this service. I have however encouraged my DSP team to utilise this services as much as they require. I am not convinced they are using the service. This could be because they offload to me.  I don’t mean that to sound like I am a martyr but as the DSL you know the buck stops with you. You may or may not be the one that talks to helps the child but you are still aware of the issues and trauma that they are going through. You are the one who reports to the Headmaster, Governors and LSCB.  You are the one who is called upon for case reviews, audits and inspections.

I did a poll on twitter to see how many DSL were getting supervision. Although only a few voted ( L) it was obvious DSL are not using supervision. It’s unclear if this is through choice or because of lack of offer. Or perhaps it is because it unclear how this should look. Andrew made it very clear that supervision was not the same as talking to your line manager.  He pointed out “It is difficult to find one person to provide all these different aspects of supervision, so will be important to identify who can help with each of the three areas.”

So what would I want from supervision and how could I see it working?  Well oversight of the issues works better in a team situation for me. It can be slightly intimidating sharing with a large group who would question every decision you make, however prepares you well for any audit or inspection and could count as the reviews you should be doing for each child.

DSL experience and the stress of the role seems more personal and something I would struggle to discuss with someone I work with. Perhaps this is my own demon, but being a woman SLT is hard and you feel like you have to prove yourself.  People expect SLT to be calm and collected.  They don’t want to see weakness, they want strength and to feel reassured that this person can and will cope. It always interests me when I speak to our sch counsellors. There is no taboo there, they have to have it. They refer to their supervisor with admiration and authority, yet I as their line manger have no idea who their supervisor is. Well I do but I have never met them.  “ I talked it through with my supervisors and we agreed that I should…….”.  “ My supervisor and I feel……..” Not sure DSL would ever go down that route nor if it should but it is such an interesting thought.


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Assistant Head ( DSL) at a boarding school. Interested in all PSHE and safeguarding topics.

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