Social pedagogy is an incredibly common education and social care practise in continental Europe and the Fostering Network has launched a ground breaking programme to bring it to the UK.
Head, Heart, Hands will be based in six demonstration sites across England and Scotland for the next four years. Over the duration of the programme foster carers will participate in a social pedagogy learning and development programme.
The foster carers in all demonstration sites will be supported by the Head, Heart, Hand social pedagogy consortium and two social pedagogues in each site, and their training courses will provide foster carers with increased understanding and new techniques to apply in their fostering.
The aim is that the training and guidance from the social pedagogues will support them to strengthen the relationship they have with their fostered child. It is also hoped that it will also empower them to confidently make decisions in the best interests of the child, enabling a shift away from the overly risk-averse approach so prevalent in our social work culture at present.
As well as working with foster carers, Head, Heart, Hands will also invite social workers to take part in the same social pedagogy learning and development courses. The programme will also provide support and guidance to the sites with the aim of helping to identify and then reduce any barriers to a social pedagogic approach that may exist within the system.
Simon Johr is a social pedagogue who is working at Staffordshire County Council as part of the Head, Heart, Hands programme: "Pedagogy, to me, is "the art of education". I really like the idea of seeing myself as an artist because like an artist social pedagogues are very creative people. They have to because social pedagogy itself is a very flexible approach to working.
"What might work very well for one person may not for someone else. For example social pedagogues are not big advocates of raising children with very strict rules and boundaries, but we do acknowledge that there might be some children need them.
"Social pedagogy uses a holistic approach to understand people's behaviour. If a child shows challenging behaviour then instead of just confronting them with the issue as we often do now, social pedagogy will enable us to look for the underlying reasons behind the behaviour."
You can find out more about Head, Heart Hands on the Fostering Network's website.