Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Child and Family Research

News and events

Implementing social pedagogy in fostering services: New publication
15 August 2016

Implementing social pedagogy in fostering services: New publication from the Colebrooke Centre and the Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University  

This new report on the implementation of an ambitious four year national programme to introduce social pedagogy into seven fostering providers in England and Scotland is published ahead of final outcome and costs results (forthcoming, winter 2016). It focuses on the implementation successes and challenges in individual sites and across the group as a whole.  Training for carers and some staff was well received and professional social pedagogues were successfully integrated into the work of several sites. In four sites, definite plans for sustaining and scaling up the approach in locally-appropriate ways were being made by the end of the period.  The study shows that implementing this kind of fluid and intangible approach is particularly challenging, at all levels. Planning and agreeing key parameters at early stages is particularly important to ensure that roles, responsibilities and methods are as clear as possible. Strong leadership is vital to prevent ‘fluidity’ leading to over-complexity; social pedagogues needed ongoing support in the difficult role of ‘change agent’; and finding effective ways to keep up the momentum once initial training was over was sometimes challenging. Organisational commitment was strengthened where there was seen to be alignment and potential for blending social pedagogy with other promising approaches to working in children’s services. There was, however, a persistent lack of clarity and agreement about how to define and implement a social pedagogic approach to fostering, and whilst all stakeholders firmly endorsed the principles and aspirations of social pedagogy as far as they understood them, some were much more persuaded of the difference from ‘good practice as usual’ than others. Reaching and influencing the wider system of care around fostered children also remained more of an aspiration than a reality. Whether social pedagogy in fostering can be implemented and sustained in the UK at scale other than through routine basic training of carers and social work staff is not clear.

Three linked publications are available:

Further information on the Head, Heart, Hands programme can be found here: HHH.



Contact us