Social pedagogy

“One should teach children to dance on a tightrope without a safety net,
To sleep at night alone under the sky,
To row a boat out on the open sea.
One should teach them to imagine castles in the sky, instead of houses on the ground,
To be nowhere at home but in life itself
And to find security within themselves.”

Hans-Herbert Dreiske, Poet and Social Worker

At Lighthouse Pedagogy Trust, we use social pedagogy as a base for our practice.

Social pedagogy is a holistic, multi-disciplinary, strengths-based approach focused on relationships, empowerment, learning and wellbeing.

There is no one consistent definition for social pedagogy. It is not a method, instead it acknowledges how our thoughts, feelings and actions are driven by our values. A helpful explanation for social pedagogy has been coined by Charfe and Gardener (2019) in their book “Social Pedagogy and Social Work”:

“it encourages us to acknowledge that the people we are working with have value and are equal human beings and that our relationships with them have to be based on equality, inclusion and true participation”

It starts with the belief that there is a ‘diamond’ of rich potential inside every child (see diagram by ThemPra (Eichsteller & Holthoff, 2012)), which can be developed and strengthened through authentic relationships and shared activities. It is a common foundation in services for children and families in continental Europe, but relatively new and unfamiliar to the UK.

There are a number of ways we will use social pedagogy in our homes:

  • Using everyday opportunities to create a nurturing environment.
  • Finding children’s existing strengths and interests, and allow them to have new experiences.
  • Learning from children, and seeing them as the expert.
  • Taking an active interest in the children’s lives, learning who and what is important to them.
  • Supporting children to grow and strengthen relationships outside of the home.
  • Supporting young people to actively participate, take decisions and take ownership of actions, and to develop independence skills.
  • Having a presence in our community and participating in local events.
  • Informing our risk management approach (appreciating that children can take risks and see mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning).

Staff will be trained in social pedagogy alongside their mandatory qualification to work in a children’s home. Lighthouse Pedagogy Trust is a Bronze Member with the Social Pedagogy Professional Association (SPPA) and our Manager is a trustee for SPPA.