After testing different approaches to find out what works best, our new supervision standards to support learning reps and safety reps are now being rolled out across the UK

The standards mean that learning reps and safety reps will now be offered regular supervision meetings. 

“This may be a one-to-one or group meeting, but it will offer an opportunity for reps to talk about their roles, their achievements and the activities they will engage in over the next few months,” says Jonathan Bowker, RCN UK Programme Manager for the Member Journey.

The standards were drawn up because it became clear that while supervision has been available to RCN stewards for a long time, learning and safety reps were receiving different levels of support from their region or country offices.

“We now have one set of standards so that you’ll be offered a supervision meeting at least quarterly,” Jonathan says.

Resources to support the new supervision and support sessions can be found in the Reps Hub on the RCN website. 

They include a template to be completed before a supervision meeting, which can be used by reps to record recent role-related activity and any actions agreed or development needs identified during the session.

It will offer an opportunity for reps to talk about their roles, their achievements and the activities they will engage in over the next few months

Practical support

The standards are designed to be meaningful, practical and easily implemented, says Jonathan. “They’re intended to support learning and safety reps to be more active in support of members. And there ‘s flexibility built in, so you can make them work for your own circumstances.”

The standards evolved out of an improvement project run last year with reps and RCN staff in four sites across the UK – North Wales, London, North West and Lothian. Different approaches to learning and safety rep support were tried. Some worked better than others, but only those that were successful were considered for wider implementation.

In Lothian, for example, all learning reps and safety reps received one-to-one supervision, and group supervision sessions with all reps were held quarterly. These were well received and well attended. An assessment of the impact of the supervision pilot showed it had increased:

  • officer understanding of the rep role
  • rep confidence
  • officer/rep engagement.

Janette Astles, who is a learning rep and was part of the Lothian pilot team, said: “The project was about making sure learning reps and safety reps get regular support but it was also about encouraging and promoting joint working between the different types of reps.

“It’s shown me how beneficial regular supervision and support is. Just knowing that the support is there makes a big difference. You feel more confident.”

Jonathan adds: “I urge all learning and safety reps to take a look at the information about the support and supervision standards on the RCN Reps Hub. It includes videos and presentations, as well as the template for recording supervision sessions.”

Read more about Janette's experience as part of the pilot team

Janette, RCN Learning Rep, and Linda, RCN StewardJanette Astles (left) with RCN Steward Linda Rumbles

Words by Daniel Allen

New supervision standards for learning reps and safety reps

  • The relationship between the rep and the supervising officer or RCN staff member must be established, nurtured and built on.
  • All learning reps and safety reps will be offered support and supervision to strengthen the impact of their role. They will be expected to take up the offer.
  • As a minimum, reps will receive support and supervision quarterly. It will be delivered creatively and flexibly.
  • There will be a range of delivery options including one-to-one, face-to-face, by telephone, in groups, masterclasses or network meetings.
  • Both the offer of support and its occurrence must be recorded on the CRM so it can be demonstrated that all reps are accessing the support they need.
  • Supervision and support must be meaningful and worthwhile for both parties, with the discussion tailored to reps’ workplace needs.

For more information, including videos, presentations and supervision templates, log in to the RCN Reps Hub and go to the Online Learning Zone.

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