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Samantha Mc Dermid, Loughborough University

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Developing a Social Pedagogy for UK foster care: emerging finding from a UK study

While social pedagogy is common across continental Europe, social care in the UK is relatively unfamiliar with the approach. Interest in social pedagogy has, however, increased in recent years with more organisations exploring the potential for the approach to make a difference to children, families and the professionals and systems that support them. “Head, Heart, Hands” is a programme of work to introduce social pedagogy into seven fostering services in England and Scotland.

This presentation will explore the emerging findings from the first two years of the four year independent evaluation of Head Heart Hands. The evaluation is being led by the Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University and draws on data gathered from surveys, interviews, focus groups and in-depth case studies, along with quantitative analysis of child level data to examine how social pedagogy is impacting the development of both individual foster carers and the wider system that supports them.

An overview of the views and experiences of foster carers involved in the programme will be presented. How foster carers’ practice is being developed will be explored including their understanding and interpretation of social pedagogy, how they are assimilating social pedagogic approaches into existing models and activities and the impact that it has had on them and the children and young people they support. The emerging findings on the sustainability of the programme will also be explored.

The presentation will also examine cultural and systemic similarities and differences between the current UK foster care system and social pedagogic approaches, and will explore the emerging challenges of adopting social pedagogy.

Keywords: Social Pedagogy, foster care, practice