MOOC Fire Starter Event

‘Education is about filling a pail but lighting a fire’


We are plased to invite you to our exclusive MOOC fire starter event to bring together as many people from our collective networks, who are willing to help us reach as many future MOOC learners as possible. Hosted by the University of Central Lancashire on the 6th of September, 2018, the event is an exclusive opportunity to find out more about the MOOC and our ambition:

  • Get a first look at the final MOOC before its official launch in January 2019,
  • Talk to some of the pilot learners and find out how they have used the MOOC to develop their practice and team culture,
  • Get in dialogue with our cross-national MOOC team from the 8 organisations involved, and
  • Learn how you can embed the MOOC in organisational practice, training and academic courses.

We have been developing the MOOC with the aim of providing an exciting and meaningful learning resource about central principles in social pedagogy and how these can enhance social pedagogical practice beyond national boundaries. And we are inviting you, because we hope you can help us make the MOOC freely available to interested learners across the globe. We hope you’ll be able to join us and become part of a dynamic international network committed to developing social pedagogy.

The fire starter event forms part of our Erasmus+ funded 3-year project and is therefore completely free to attend, with overnight accommodation for international guests and food provided. Please note that places are limited and allocated in accordance with our funding conditions. Please register here or contact us for further details.

Crossfields Institute Level 3 Diploma in Social Pedagogy – Open Course


Join our brand new qualification

We’re pleased to announce the first open course forming part of our new Crossfields Institute Level 3 Diploma in Social Pedagogy. This is an excellent personal and professional development opportunity for anyone interested in social pedagogy. The 47-credit qualification is regulated by Ofqual and divided into 7 units:

(Unit 1) Key theories and principles in social pedagogy
This unit will explore key theories and principles of social pedagogy. A brief overview of its history, the key thinkers who have shaped its European/UK development and social pedagogy’s relationship with social justice will enable you to understand social pedagogy today and how it can be applied across different fields of practice and across the life course.
(Unit 2) Learning perspectives on human development
This unit will introduce you to key learning theories and principles around holistic learning and human development. Using experiential learning activities, this unit will enable you to develop an understanding of how relationships and well-being affect learning processes, and vice versa, and how they can create learning opportunities in everyday practice.
(Unit 3) Communication and understanding lifeworlds
In this unit you will explore how verbal and non-verbal communication can impact on our relationships, information sharing and perception of each other as individuals and professionals. It will introduce you to key communication theories, link these to practice and emphasise the importance of giving and receiving authentic feedback.
(Unit 4) Building meaningful relationships
This unit will focus on establishing, maintaining and promoting meaningful relationships with people and within inter-professional practice. Drawing on care ethics, you will explore various theories and principles, such as reciprocity, authenticity, empathy, trust and equality, that seek to include individuals in wider society and ensure that their diversity is recognised as valuable.
(Unit 5) Creativity in working with individuals, groups, and communities
The unit will introduce you to the power of creativity when working with individuals, groups and communities. It takes a broad definition of creativity, which similarly to multiple intelligences considers every individual as having unique creative potential.
(Unit 6) Safer practice from a social pedagogical perspective
Through this unit you will gain social pedagogical perspectives on safer practice. You will explore how you can best balance safe practice with the need to develop risk competence in other people – their ability to understand, assess and manage risks themselves. You will also learn about the role of children’s and human rights in framing safer practice by considering in particular the right to the best interest of the child/adult, their right to be involved in decisions that affect them, their right not to be discriminated against and their right to survival and development.
(Unit 7) Observation and reflective practice within a social pedagogical culture
In this unit you will explore the role of reflection within social pedagogy, highlighting the importance of making observations that avoid interpretations or judgments. By engaging with different reflection and appreciative inquiry methods, you will become familiar with practical and thorough reflective processes that are solution-oriented and thus enable you to develop your practice further.

The qualification consists of our 8-day, face-to-face course, which draws on experiential, active and reflective learning methods to:

  • Develop practice by integrating social pedagogical theories and principles
  • Practice with greater confidence, intention and creativity
  • Enhance important interpersonal skills such as communication, relational and reflective skills

You will have access to our Moodle virtual learning environment and be supported in your learning and assessment through a variety of tasks, including some written and reflective work, presentation, and a creative scrapbook.

The qualification is approved by the Social Pedagogy Professional Association and meets its Standards of Proficiency in Social Pedagogy. As a graduate you may carry the title of Social Pedagogy Practitioner. The qualification is also accepted as an entry requirement by the University of Central Lancashire for their BA in Social Pedagogy, Advocacy and Participation.


Dates and Location

The open course will be offered by ThemPra and hosted by the University of Central Lancashire at their campus in Preston. The dates are:

  • 4th to 6th July, 2018
  • 25th and 26th July, 2018
  • 3rd to 5th September, 2018

All days are 9.30am to 4.30pm, and we ask you to take part in all dates.



The cost for the whole qualification is £2,400 (no VAT applicable), which you can pay in two instalments – one upon registration and the other upon commencing the assessment process. The fee includes the £350 learner registration fee, which we pay to the awarding organisation Crossfields Institute. Please see our Terms & Conditions for further details.


Next Steps

If you’re interested in finding out more, please get in touch with us. We’re happy to answer any further questions. You can also download the application pack here.

Become a MOOC Pilot Learner

Piloting the MOOC

From November 2017 we will be piloting the MOOC with a cohort of critical friends, who will help us beta-test the course in all aspects. We’re keen to find out whether the content presented and the style of delivering it are engaging, insightful and practice-relevant. Interested? Learn more in this short video.



The pilot is the first chance to get insights into the brand new MOOC in social pedagogy. We’re testing this to get a better sense of how well the course works and what we can do to further improve it before we’ll make this available to anyone around the globe. The online course will run over 8 weeks, with each week consisting of around 30-45 minutes of video resources, 30-45 minutes of further reading materials, some suggested activities to relate your learning to practice, reflective questions and an assignment task. We’ll need pilot learners to commit to road-testing the whole 8-week course (within a 16-week timeframe) and providing us with detailed feedback on each session as well as the overall learning experience. In addition, you can also become more actively involved as a critical friend, for instance by writing a blog on a specific thematic session (we’ll give you advance access to that week’s learning materials), taking part in week 8’s live review session to share your learning, joining a focus group conversation a few weeks after the pilot to share your perspective on the key learning points, and acting as a ‘multiplier’ by disseminating information about the MOOC via social media and your professional network. In addition to getting exclusive access to the MOOC, as a pilot learner you will receive a free certificate of completion upon successfully passing the assessment. If you would like to register as a pilot learner, please complete the below form, and we’ll send you all relevant details in due course.

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By submitting your details you agree for us to use your in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. We will share your details only with our project partners for the purpose of realising this project. To support your ongoing learning about social pedagogy, we may occasionally send you relevant information via email. You’re free to unsubscribe at any time.



An important part of the learning journey throughout the 8-week course is the interactive assessment process. Each week includes an assingment task, which enables you to gradually compile a scrapbook illustrating your individual social pedagogy journey. (We’ve even included some resources and ideas on how to make a virtual or actual paper scrapbook, so that this can be an enjoyable creative process even for people who don’t consider themselves artistically gifted.) Whilst assessments aren’t graded, they are regularly peer-evaluated, and we will review the entire scrapbook before awarding you with a certificate of completion.


For further details on the MOOC please click here.

Counting down to the pilot of our Social Pedagogy Across Europe MOOC


With the pilot of our new Massive Open Online Course just a few weeks away, we met up with our brilliant team of international partners last weekend to review the video contributions from each country and plan the next steps. We’re already very excited about the variety of themes and the diverse styles in which every team has brought their topics to life.

Over the course of the weekend, we also undertook some creative activities that will feature in the MOOC and filmed a few scenes for the introduction. We’ve also been working out the evaluation strategy and shared ideas for promoting the pilot. If you’d like to be amongst the pilot learners and help beta-test the course (which is free of charge), we’d love to hear from you! Just drop us an email at We’ll share further details next week, so make sure to check in again!

Cultivating a Relational Universe

By Andy Carter & Gabriel Eichsteller

The relational universe of a child in care can be quite curious. There is no shortage of people appearing like a multitude of distant stars in a universe and disappearing long before they’ve even become visible. But there are also others, those who are close enough to develop a gravitational pull, who become central to the child’s relational universe. This is true for every person, yet what is different for children in care is the ways in which their relational universe is often thrown out of equilibrium by decisions outside their control: placement moves resulting in loss of friends, school changes as well as new carers, limitations to family contact, changing social workers, gaining new friends. The frequency with which many children in care experience such upheaval and its potentially negative consequences makes it imperative to put greater emphasis on developing and sustaining relationships. We argue that a social pedagogical perspective with children’s relational universe at the heart of care and educational practice can provide a useful and visually stimulating framework that considers all past, current and future relationships that surround a child in care. (The model is of course not limited to children in care and can equally be applied to working with families, elderly people or any other individuals, groups and communities.)

The importance of positive relationships for children in care and leaving care is becoming clear; however, the ‘how, who and when’ is often driven by real and perceived barriers, resources and professional roles. Many children in care have fragmented relationships in communities and once they leave care will often attempt to return to them, even if this exploration is painful when relationships are not as ideal as expected. To identify these relationships early on is crucial to nurturing them and establishing a supportive emotional and social network during their time in care and also for their move to in(ter)dependence. As the Care Inquiry (2013) noted:

‘Whilst the importance of relationships is often implicit in what we already do for and with children, what has been missing is the determination to view relationships – their extent, their quality, their supportive character and the likelihood of their lasting – as the cornerstone of planning and practice. We need a renewed focus on using resources and approaches that will nurture positive relationships for children who cannot live with their parents. This must drive practice in the future – moving away from the focus on process and on administrative requirements that have come to dominate practice in recent years.’

Our universe evolves from birth, where as a baby it consists of our parent(s) and expands as grandparents, relatives and family friends enter it. That universe continues to grow throughout our life as we develop relationships with more people, evolving in ways that are highly individual and unique. In practice, it is therefore important for the child to define their relational universe, supported in this by carers and others as the child explores who they feel is able to support them now or in the future. This is unlike other models, which do not always take the views and needs of the child into account as a central planet in the universe around them, especially if these are in conflict with the professionals’ views.

For children in care, their universe includes many professionals who have involvement at different times, often entering the close universe and latterly moving to a more distant position as their role changes. This doesn’t mean that this relationship which has been established disappears; it may be that the gravitational pull of this professional decreases, but they will still remain within the universe and perhaps move closer again as the needs of the child change. For example, a foster carer may move into the further reaches of the universe, but when the young person experiences a crisis after leaving care they may re-establish this relationship by having their former carer in their near universe for a period of time for support they can offer. Even if not in close proximity, the knowledge that this support is there may in itself be sufficient. It is therefore crucial that we professionally support such ‘planetary movement’ in children’s relational universe.

The relational universe also acts as a reminder that we mustn’t exclude those individuals we may not see as ‘ideal’ from a professional assessment, such as a grandparent who has used alcohol in the past. Once a young person has left care, these are often the people they turn to and, if engaged early on, they could play a vital long-term supportive role in the young person’s life. Recognising that they are part of the relational universe – whether or not we like this as professionals – can help us put a clear emphasis on the assets rather than the deficits of these people, which is key to this process.

Children in care are often cautious of relationships with adults or resentful as their previous experiences may have been very negative, so a primary task is for professionals to offer a safe environment where they can model positive, trusting relationships for the child and allow them to build trust in others. Over time, this can then extend to other relationships in the child’s universe, including those outside the looked-after environment. A social pedagogical approach is a key factor in the ‘why and how’. Nurturing children’s sense of empowerment plays a crucial part in this and can be achieved in a number of ways, including non-judgemental acceptance of children’s views and choices of who to develop relationships with, while offering safeguards, supporting children in differentiating which relationships are positive for their well-being and which ones aren’t and how they themselves can cultivate their relational universe.

With the metaphor of the relational universe we aim to highlight that human beings are intricately connected and interdependent. This is often undervalued in social care practice, where it is independence that remains the stated end goal in preparing looked after children for leaving care. Rather than suggesting that human beings are constantly dependent on others, interdependence conveys mutual support, reciprocity and a strong, reliable social network with a multitude of different connections. Within the relational universe, some of the connections may be temporary, some may have a strong and lasting impact, some might be considered positive and others problematic or even toxic. Irrespective of any attributes or judgments we as professionals might use to describe certain relationships, there can’t be any doubt that they are part of the child’s universe. Each of these people will bring some positive aspects to the life world of the child, which are potentially neglected by professionals and needed by the child in their universe to sustain their further interdependence.

If you would like to find out how you can use the relational universe in your practice, we’d be delighted to hear from you. We can offer tailored team seminars and strategic consultancy and are always open for any other ideas. Just email us at


N.B.: We refer to ‘the child’ for simplicity and would view this as including young people and young adults as respectful descriptors.