Final Report of the Social Pedagogy Pilot Programme: development and implementation
Authors: Cameron, C., Petrie, P., Wigfall, V. and Kleipoedszus, S.
Publisher: Thomas Coram Research Unit
In 2008, the government commissioned Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education University of London to develop and implement a pilot programme in order to determine the impact of, and best method for, introducing a social pedagogic approach in residential children’s homes in line with the Care Matters White Paper’s commitment (DCSF 2007). The intentions were modest - to make some ‘ripples’ in the world of residential childcare. This report is of the development and implementation part of the pilot programme. There are around 2,000 children’s homes in England, run by private for profit, independent and public sector employers and around 6,500 young people are in residence at any one time (SFR 2009). Since 2002, children’s homes, as with other services for children, have been regulated by, and inspected against, national minimum standards, which, although not intended to be a benchmark of practice, or representing standardisation of provision (DH 2002), arguably implied just that. Clough, Bullock and Ward (2006) viewed the requirement to meet bureaucratic standards as risking the undervaluing of important and complex issues of quality and process. It was in this context that the pilot programme took place. As an established tradition in continental Europe, social pedagogy is often understood as ‘education in its broadest sense’ (Petrie et al. 2009) - an educational approach to social issues. Its breadth can be seen in its concern for the whole person as emotional, thinking and physical beings, promoting their active engagement in decisions about their own lives and as members of society. It is a discipline that takes account of the complexity of different social contexts. In continental European countries social pedagogues typically have a bachelor’s degree, combining academic knowledge, with practical, organisational and communication skills and often, the expressive arts and/or outdoor adventure/ environmental activities. Social pedagogues working in residential care in continental European countries expect to exercise a range of responsibilities both inward looking to the home itself and outward looking to the interface between the children’s home and the wider society to which the young person belongs. The pilot programme was designed around three groups of children’s homes or ‘pilot sites’ with differing social pedagogic input, ranging from social pedagogues trained overseas but working to residential care worker job titles, to social pedagogues working to social pedagogue job titles with, in addition, part of their time devoted to training and awareness raising activities. Children’s homes were selected for their stated support of the programme objectives and their willingness to learn about social pedagogy from the social pedagogues. Forty eight social pedagogues were recruited through employer’s recruitment procedures although some left before the end of the programme period.