Thames Reach
Friday 17 November 2017
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Placement supervisors

Trainees need a dedicated supervisor during their placement.

Photograph of two men and two women
John Barker and Andy Lillicrap were placement supervisors to trainees

This placement supervisor is there to:

  • Take responsibility for a trainee’s induction into the team, project and specific role
  • Ensure they are provided with learning opportunities
  • Oversee the development of their competencies
  • Conduct regular supervision
  • Conduct quarterly reviews
  • When appropriate, update the trainee’s other support network, such as their life coach, about issues impacting on work and progress in their development

The placement supervisor job description can be downloaded from the traineeship resources page.

Lessons learnt

Thames Reach’s experience: Who should be a placement supervisor?

There was much debate within Thames Reach about who was best suited to supervise trainees. Some thought that team managers should take on this responsibility as they had the most managerial experience. Others believed that experienced project workers who were keen to gain some supervisory experience should be offered this development opportunity.

In conclusion, team managers were encouraged to select the most appropriate team member to supervise the trainee. In most cases, team and deputy managers opted out of supervising trainees due to their own heavy workloads. Managers delegated the majority of the management responsibility to an experienced project worker who had expressed an interest in developing management experience in their last appraisal.

In these instances, managers retained responsibility for monitoring and managing sick leave and annual leave.

In all cases, new supervisors were keen to do a good job. Most were able to provide trainees with:

  • A clear induction

  • Regular meeting times

  • Informal support, when required

  • Learning opportunities

  • Feedback

In a few cases, however, supervisors felt under-confident, a lack of training, or too busy with their own workload to properly supervise a trainee. This variation resulted in our group of trainees receiving a mixed level of work-based support from their supervisors. 

After the first two years of the traineeships, Thames Reach has concluded that the benefits of involving interested, experienced project workers as trainee supervisors far outweigh the disadvantages. The organisation and individual project worker have both benefited from the supervisory experience the project worker gained.

However, the organisation has also learnt that in order to provide trainees with the best support we need to ensure placement supervisors:

  • Attend all required training

  • Understand the competency framework and how to implement it

  • Have enough time to provide a comprehensive induction, regular supervision, on-going informal support, examine and assess a trainee’s competency evidence and give feedback each month to life coaches

  • Have access to support from their line manager to discuss progress, concerns and insecurities

  • Are on shift with trainees a significant number of times, particularly during the first few months, for those who work in hostels

New placement supervisors receive training on the traineeships, their role and responsibilities, the competencies framework and ways to manage issues that may arise for trainees.

The competency framework can be downloaded from the traineeship resources page.

“I thought GROW was a really good idea when it was first mentioned to me. My line manager approached me about becoming a pacement supervisor and I thought it was a really good opportunity for myself and the GROW trainees – simply because it was, as the name says, giving people real opportunities for work.”

Project Worker and Placement Supervisor