Yesterday I represented NAFP at a very interesting seminar hosted by KPMG, and focusing on a review of the projects they are supporting to pilot social pedagogy in a range of settings in England and Scotland.

What is social pedagogy? That’s a good question, and at the moment the answer can depend on who you ask. My understanding has always been that it is a set of beliefs about how children learn and develop which has its roots in continental Europe. 

The managers, practitioners and researchers who reported back were across the board enthusiastic about the impact of taking this approach. It was said to improve relationships between foster carers and SSWs, improve the quality of care in residential homes and even change the culture across a local authority’s children’s services.

So could this be the way forward for fostering services? It would be good to know more. If it means recognising the importance of the quality of everyday life in fostering households. And providing carers with practical strategies which will help them do what they do well. And giving them the support which recognises the emotional costs of their role – as well as the confidence and energy to keep going – then of course yes.

But there are other approaches which make claims to do all of these things too. So I am looking forward to hearing more – especially from the participating carers – about how it worked for them and the children they look after. And how these ideas can be implemented to shape (and improve) our fostering practice.