Social Pedagogy in Child Development

Published: Mon, 12 Jun 2017

The education success of
both children and young people cannot be comprehended, not in education
terms, but must also align with social and economic circumstances that
afflict them. Community education can be perceived as grounded in three
key pillars, namely: the nature of man; the prevailing social conditions
and social challenges; and, pedagogy. The idea of social pedagogy
avails a fascinating collection of paradigms in facilitating education
for sociality. The social education plus the social group manifests some
overlapping concerns as pedagogue has tended to strip away its
democratic and communal significance minimizing it to pedagogy for case

Until the end of the last century, in UK, the local and national
policy remained grounded in concise boundaries between the disciplines
of education, social care, and childcare. The distinct divisions were
evident at diverse levels whether conceptual, organizational,
professional, and in relation to training and education. Nevertheless,
the UK has witnessed significant changes in administrative
reorganization of the responsibility for children’s services and a
change in the manner in which individuals envision provision for both
children and young people.

Social pedagogy delineates education in the expansive sense of the
word or a perspective entailing social action that aims at facilitating
human welfare via child-rearing and education practices; to safeguard or
ease social problems by availing individuals with the means to manage
their own lives, and effect changes within their circumstances. The
fundamental notion of social pedagogy centres on facilitating social
functioning, inclusion, involvement, social identity and competence as
fully functional members of the society. Social pedagogy in practice
incorporates an all encompassing and personal approach to child care in
all its facets that connects education and care, and support for
families. In addition, social pedagogy avails a prospective approach to
training at diverse levels that integrates education, psychology, and
philosophy with the spheres of child care, family support, and the
advancement of children’s rights.

Social pedagogy can be viewed as an activity and a collection of
ideas that, while mirroring the broader concerns for the welfare of
children, is organic and adjustable to the attributes of the society,
and mirrors humanistic values grounded in a representation of children
as active agents in society. As such, social pedagogy operates in “the
here and now” and employs “the moment” as a launch pad for pedagogical

Social pedagogues have been implemented across Europe in a broad
range of service such as early years, schools, residential care, youth
work and family support, disability services, and in some instances
support for the senior citizens. Public policy within England has
started to acknowledge that social, pedagogic training is a significant
way to enhance practice within social care. This stems from the
realization that this bears the potential to underpin a more
collaborative approach, and aid to establish a shared language for
working with children that could be adopted by diverse professionals
operating within their own practice contexts.

Social pedagogy bears a critical focus on constructing relationships
via practical engagement with children, the youth, and families. It
avails the basis for training entities working with children and young
people and presents a certain expertise in working with groups and
utilizing the group as a support. Social pedagogy can be employed as a
foundation for workforce reform within UK since it can avail a strong
basis for an approach to children, young people, and families that
exemplify ideals of active citizenship, rights, and participation. The
positive aspects that can be derived from social, pedagogic practice
entail: it avails a holistic view to engaging children and youth by
exploring on the “whole child/young person” and availing support to
their overall development. Social pedagogy underlines relationship
building with children and young people, especially in the development
of practical skills to assist in the relationship building. Similarly,
social pedagogy highlights children and young people’s development,
especially on their emotional wellbeing. Social pedagogy demonstrates
the significance of reflection, and the capability to herald both
theoretical understanding and self knowledge to the process of working
with young people, besides it facilitates children’s rights,
participation, and empowerment.

Effectiveness of social pedagogy in working with children, young people, and families

Drawing from several case studies on successful approaches to
enhancing the wellbeing of looked after children within other countries
such as Denmark, Germany, and France, British stakeholders working
within childcare settings and with young people can draw immense and
promising lessons from social, pedagogic models with the primary social,
pedagogic objective being fostering healthy cognitive, and social
development within everyday settings. Bringing social pedagogy to
England is likely to better children’s services and herald greater
coherence with several services becoming largely social pedagogic

The holistic notion of social pedagogy combines two dimensions: the
social (caring) and the pedagogic (cognitive). This prompts some
elementary alterations in the way in which the government should engage
children and young people. The adoption of social pedagogy will aid to
deliver a stronger workforce manifesting better communication
professionals engaged with both children and young people, thus
highlighting elevated focus on every aspect of the child’s life.
According to the UNICEF report (2007), UK ranks low in terms of child
wellbeing assessment in which factors such as health and safety,
material wellbeing, children’s relationships, education wellbeing, young
people’s behaviours and risks. Thus, is essential that action
undertaken by UK at the national level matches its European
counterparts. The incorporation of social pedagogy in the work of
children and young people will work towards elevating UK standards, and
enhancing children’s and young people’s overall wellbeing.

The adoption of social pedagogy can avail a number of benefits to
social policy. As an overarching concept, social pedagogy could bring
enhanced coherence to children’s and young people’s services as
demonstrated by the adoption of Children’s Plan. In addition, pedagogy
could also avail a platform for discussing aspirations of children and
young people within the society. Social pedagogy also manifests the
capability to establish the family support network and reinforce
children’s overall development.

Social pedagogy can serve several aspects of government policy
towards both children and young people. Pedagogy manifests the
possibility for an inclusive approach. The normalizing approach inherent
in social pedagogy aligns with government’s aims for children with
exceptional needs. Pedagogic approaches are mainly child-focused,
instead of procedure-focused. Although attention to procedures is a
significant part of work, it should not necessary shape it basis.
Overall the adoption of social pedagogy will deliver immense support to
reinforcing professionalism of the worker and enhancing the transparency
of practice, which avail best guarantee to child safety.

Social pedagogy plays a role in working with young people via the
provision of personal advisor services. Fundamental to the concept of
social pedagogy is the pursuit to enhance current welfare practice by
facilitating creativity. Creativity depicts an active process whereby
the social pedagogue works with the individual employing their service
in the manner in which they maximize their potential, their capability t
arrive at decisions and enhance their life chances. The inventive and
all-encompassing approach to social pedagogy can deliver beneficial
effects with regard to enhancing self belief and self confidence of
individuals within a range of varying situations. A critical feature of
social pedagogy is the recreation of relationships depicted by an
attempt to enhance social assimilation and a commitment to guaranteeing
that the people pedagogues work with, connect and/or re-engage with the
communities in which they reside.

According to Eischesteller and Rapey (2007), social pedagogy could
play a critical function in reclaiming the nucleus values of the youth
work within the UK. The adoption of social pedagogy can empower the
participants and reinforce their self esteem, their acting, skill and
individual development of productive new life. As such, young people
will be able to turn a problem into something that they can be able to
work with as mirrored by the close and compassionate character of the
social pedagogues’ rapport with the young people. The social pedagogues
can aid young people to exercise significant steps with regard to
developing essential life skills.

Social pedagogy is likely to benefit children and young people within
the UK, as is avails support and direction to young people who might
feel dislodged and cut off from the society by aiding them to gain
support and direction. Social pedagogy highlights excellence in youth
work and social work practice and facilitates children and young people
to be proficient fully functional members of the society. Social
pedagogy is beneficial in constructing positive informal relationships
that enable professionals to view individuals in a holistic way.

Problems and/or Barriers to the adoption of Social Pedagogy

It is apparent that the implementation of social pedagogy is reliant
on its social context; therefore, the implementation of social pedagogy
within the UK will differ from that of the European counterparts and
must be assembled in dialogue with professionals, building on the
present practice, motivating them with diverse ideas, and underlying
their practice with pedagogic thinking, concepts, and theories. There
may be barriers to introducing the term social pedagogy to the children,
and youth workforce n England owing to deficiency in familiarity with
the language of social pedagogy, diverse interpretations on the
connotation of social, pedagogic policy, and absence of a tradition of
social pedagogy policy, training, theory, and practice.

One of the outstanding problems that manifests in the adoption of
social pedagogy is the perceived competition with social work, plus
other professions. The greatest divergence social work and social
pedagogy centres on the degree to which social pedagogues remained
trained for work within group settings, in which they share the daily
lives and activities of both children and young people. This is less
factual for social work within UK since in the rest Europe, social work
and social pedagogy do not appear to be in competition as they manifest
diverse complementary facets of work.

Another barrier to the introduction of social pedagogy into the UK
entail the possibility that it will be perceived as being too
idealistic; not adequately appropriate; not adequately well understood
or valuable within a UK context; not essentially appropriate for all
professionals working with young people or children; and, a discrepancy
in its education and training. There may also be concerns centring on
the challenges of funding and the potential dilution of individual
specialisms, and the possibility of resistance of the workforce in the
event that appropriate account was not considered of the cultural
variations between the UK and the European countries.

Another barrier stems from the observation that devoid of publicly
funded training opportunities that match the duration and depth of those
found in the rest of Europe a profession comparative to that of the
pedagogue cannot be effectively established. Youth work within UK stands
to be re-energized by the incorporation of social pedagogy framework
within the activities of youth workers. The adopted perspective should
move beyond an individual focus to one that employs an approach that
appreciates structural perspectives.

Nevertheless, in adopting a social pedagogy for work with children,
young people, and families, it is critical to consider the difficulties
of integrating social pedagogy into a diverse cultural, political, and
social context. The practice and cultural shift apparent in the adoption
of social pedagogy may not be always welcome. For instance, social
pedagogy perceives risk taking as an educational goal that conflicts
with the considerable priority awarded to health and safety within
children’s homes. Whereas the values and the general approach of social
pedagogy appeals to practitioners, there remain embedded difficulties
within the organization of services for children within residential care
when it comes to initiating social pedagogy. This implies a need to
respond to social pedagogy not only as a training issue, but also a
sector development issue.


UK should integrate social pedagogy for work with children, young
people, and families in a constructive and beneficial way. The adoption
of social pedagogy in the work with children and young people is likely
to create an environment that cultivates relationships between young
people and staff, and fashions a sense of positivity and wellbeing. The
social, pedagogic model should be grounded in nurturing relationships,
creativity, and individuality. Social pedagogy spotlights positive youth
development that highlights young people’s assets rather than their
deficits. This perspective can be broadened by identifying young people
as agents of change. Social pedagogy would promote the children and
young people’s workforce as it: persuade professionals not to
compartmentalize certain facets of children or young people’s lives;
delivers more person driven approach; persuade professionals to
highlight the views of the children or young people; and, persuade
professionals to consider all facets of a child’s life.

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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