International Journal of Social Pedagogy – call for papers

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Read these latest articles and special issues from the journal, freely online:


Call for Submissions and New Special Series

The Editors of the International Journal of Social Pedagogy welcome new submissions for publication in 2022 and invite papers on social pedagogy as defined in its broadest sense which includes all aspects of social, philosophical, and pedagogical dimensions. The journal publishes articles open access (meaning anyone with an internet connection can read the full articles for free) and doesn’t charge any author a few to publish in the journal – the whole open access publication process is free of charge!

The journals full aims and scope as well as submission information can be found online at



In addition to general submissions, we are excited to announce a new special issue open for submission that aims to examine social pedagogical practices, ideals and ambitions of social inclusion and active citizenship in the global context of anti-extremism and anti-terror politics. This special issue looks to shine a light on how those practices and traditions vary in different countries and contexts.

Abstracts (up to 300 words) should be submitted by January 14th, 2022. Journal Editors will then invite successful authors to submit a full draft for editorial review by June 15th, 2022. Publication is anticipated for autumn/winter 2022/23.

For more information about submitting to this special issue please see the full call for papers here or contact the Editors by email at


Follow the UCL Press and the International Journal of Social Pedagogy on Twitter @UCLPress


virtual Social Pedagogy Development Network – 02/12/21

The SPDN is a community of practice for nurturing change in education and social care through social pedagogy. Join our virtual gathering.

About this event

We warmly invite you to join our next virtual Social Pedagogy Development Network event. The virtual gathering offers a forum for practitioners, students, service managers and academics alike to find out how organisations are developing social pedagogy within their services, to share ideas and to connect with other professionals who have a similar passion for their practice. We hold two free events each year, which aim to increase our collective understandings of social pedagogy in ways that are inspiring, practice-relevant and reflective of social pedagogical principles and values. We aim to stimulate reflection on how you can further develop your practice and thus make an even greater difference to the individuals, groups or communities you engage with.

Thanks to the diversity of participants, the SPDN offers you a real flavour of what social pedagogical practice looks like in children’s homes, fostering services, family support services, communities for adults with disabilities, residential schools and many other settings. For us it’s about enabling a thousand flowers to bloom – so instead of the conformity of monocultures you’ll get a flavour of the rich diversity in which social pedagogy is growing in different practice settings.

The virtual gathering offers an open space for you to talk about what matters most to you with people who share your interest and thus help shape the social pedagogy discourse. If you’re interested in learning a lot more about social pedagogy, then join one of our experiential online courses, our webinar series and other learning events.

Relationship-Centred Practice in Care Homes

by Andy Carter & Maggie Bagley

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘a rough diamond’ to describe something that has potential which is not immediately obvious at first look. The same could be said of human beings who do not have access to the best conditions for their self-development. Relationship-Centred Practice sets out to realise the potential in all of us to be a shining diamond.


The Care Act 2014 section 1 creates a general duty on local authorities exercising community care functions to promote the well-being of the individual. The Diamond Model is a strengths-based approach with an overarching aim of nurturing long-lasting holistic well-being and happiness for people by considering four core aims that provide a scaffold for organic personal growth and in doing so supports that duty in practice.


Well-being and ‘happiness’ are sometimes seen as one and the same, but in our understanding they are notionally different: happiness describes a present state whereas well-being describes a long-lasting sense of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being.  In combination we can get a holistic view of a person’s well-being and happiness.

Importantly, well-being and happiness are very individual and subjective: what causes happiness is highly individual, meaning that it is context-specific and highly responsive to the individual rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. In practice it is important to seek to understand the person we are working with, and then work alongside them to achieve this. This means simple things like joy, laughter and kindness are at the centre of relational practice.


Holistic Learning is much more than what happens in formal education. It is a process of realising our own potential for learning and growth at any point in our lives, which can take place in every situation that offers a learning opportunity. By experiencing these learning opportunities, people get a sense of their own potential and how they have developed. As we are all unique, so is our potential for learning and our way of learning and development. These learning opportunities can be seen in most aspects of daily life such as learning how to ​​​​​​cook a new recipe or having a go at belly dancing (something you always wanted to try). It’s a matter of looking for ways in which we can stimulate people’s learning.


Meaningful supportive Relationships are essential to achieve the elements mentioned above. Only through genuine connections can a person experience that someone cares for and about them, that they can trust somebody. This is about growing and maintaining social skills and being able to have strong positive interactions with those around them. Therefore, the relationship must be a personal authentic relationship between human beings, making use of our personalities and bringing our whole selves to the work we do. This can be as simple as remembering how someone likes to have their tea or which is their favourite biscuit.


Empowerment, together with relationships, is crucial in order to ensure that an individual experiences a sense of control over their life, feels involved in decisions affecting them, and is able to make sense of their own universe. Empowerment also means that the individual is able to take on ownership and responsibility for their own learning and their own well-being and happiness, as well as their relationship with the community to the maximum that they are able.  This could be taking time to really understand their needs in detail or chairing and organising resident/service user meetings.


Positive experiences are at the centre of the diamond and helps us to realise these core aims. The power of experiencing something positive – something that makes someone happy, something they have achieved, a new skill they have learned, the caring support from someone else – has a double impact: it raises the person’s self-confidence and feeling of self-worth, so it reinforces their sense of well-being, of learning, of being able to form a strong relationship, or of feeling empowered; and by strengthening their positives the person also improves their weak sides, so that negative notions about their self disappear.

Perhaps by having a pen pal and receiving letters or entering home grown veg into the local show.


This blog has been published in NAPA’s The Activity Providers Magazine Summer 2021 issue.

Webinar series exploring social pedagogy concepts at turbulent times

When the COVID-19 pandemic first started to cause huge upheavals in social care practice, we felt it was time to learn more about how a social pedagogical perspective could help practitioners navigate the uncharted territory they found themselves in. We wanted to offer a forum for dialogue and ideas about how to make sense of the uncertainties and unpredictabilities at these unprecedented times and how to keep connected to a deeper sense of moral purpose. Our webinar series ‘Exploring Social Pedagogy Concepts at Turbulent Times’ is the result of this ambition. Register now for free to join future sessions!

The series exploring social pedagogy concepts during turbulent times launched on 17th June as part of the International Online Conference with a webinar on the Common Third. Run by ThemPra in partnership with both the Social Pedagogy Association (US) and the Social Pedagogy Professional Association (UK), each webinar is free to attend and we’re keen for you to share any reflections, ideas and examples you have to offer. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to actively contribute to any of the upcoming webinars.

Below is the scheduled programme for the first part of 2022:

  • 21/02/22 – 10-11am: Balancing Values
    As social pedagogical practice requires us to be highly reflective of our values and how we bring these into our interactions, it’s important to have a conceptual framework for balancing values that might appear to be in conflict. The value squares (developed by Schulz von Thun) can guide us in achieving a greater sense of balance. Intrigued? Then join us for the discussion. Sign up by clicking here.
  • March (date and details to follow): Co-production
  • 26/04/22 – 10-11am: The Riemann-Thomann-Model
    How can we better understand human diversity and draw on its strengths when we work with people who are different to us? Developed by Riemann and Thomann, this model suggests four fundamentally opposing human orientations along two dimensions: proximity and distance, and continuity and change. Join the conversation to learn more about the model and how it can guide social pedagogical practice, especially during the pandemic. Click here to register.
  • May (date and details to follow): Lifeworld Orientation
    How do we ensure that social pedagogical practice is focused on the lived experience of the people we work alongside and takes their ‘lifeworld’ as the starting point for our support? Join us to explore the concept of lifeworld orientation in this webinar.

And here is an overview of previous webinars in the series, together with links to the video recordings (where available):

The Common Third

Our first session on 17/06/20 focussed on the Common Third and how we can develop relationships through purposeful shared activities at a time when lockdown restrictions on meeting face-to-face create huge challenges. We had a brilliant discussion with Jameel Hadi (Salford University), Danny Henderson (Common View) and Vasileios Tiliakos (Athirma) sharing their experiences and ideas.

Diamond Model

This session from 27/08/20 explored the Diamond Model, a reminder that every person is inherently rich and that we all benefit when we look for the best in people. We were delighted to be joined by Lowis Charfe (UCLan), Kara O’Neil (Social Pedagogy Association), and Robyn Kemp (Social Pedagogy Professional Association) as well as an inspiring group of participants who joined the conversation.

The 3 Ps

In this session from 28/09/20 we examined how we can be professional AND personal whilst leaving the private self out of practice. We also focussed on how lockdown has changed this balance. Thanks to everyone who contributed with their thoughts and reflections, particularly Alicja Kabat-Pastwa (Coventry Council), Cath Barton (Community Circles), Cecile Remy (St Christopher’s Fellowship), and Ali Gardner (Head, Heart, Hands in Practice).

Relational Universe

Our session from 26/10/20 focused on the Relational Universe, given that the pandemic has higlighted how crucial it is to feel connected. As human beings we are all interdependent, and the Relational Universe expands our professional understanding of what relationship-centred practice is all about. We were delighted that Nicola Boyce (Lighthouse Children’s Home) and Krysta Parsons (Lincolnshire County Council) shared examples from their practice, which stimulated participants to bring in their thoughts and insights.

Learning Zone Model

Uncertainty and upheaval make it challenging to be in the learning zone when the panic zone feels just around the corner and the comfort zone feels like the only safe place. So how can the Learning Zone Model help us? Watch the recording from the session on 23/11/20 with Elaine Hamilton (Nether Johnston House) and Krysta Parsons (Lincolnshire County Council) joining the fishbowl conversation.

Critical Reflection

In the session on 14/12/20, our focus was on critical reflection, which is never more needed than when things are turbulent, chaotic and messy. By using a structured process to examine more deeply what’s happening, how this is affecting us and others, what influences there are, how we can critically analyse the situation to learn and act, we’re ensuring that we feel better equipped to deal with uncertainty and complexity. We discussed the FEIALA model for critical reflection, which we developed together with Robyn Kemp, and heard how this can be used in practice, with contributions from Robyn herself, Chardelle Margerison (St Christopher’s Fellowship), Simon Johr (Coventry Council) and Diana Schmidt (Brent Council).

Nonviolent Communication

The new year started off with our webinar on 18/01/21 focussing on Nonviolent Communication and how we can connect to what’s alive in people. Marshall Rosenberg’s concept helps nurture kindness and compassion at a time when the challenges of the pandemic tear at the fabric of societies, and it was exciting to explore these tensions with Kara O’Neil (Social Pedagogy Association), Simon Taylor (Derbyshire County Council), and Maggie Bagley (MA Social Pedagogy Leadership graduate).

Multiple Intelligences

In this session from 26/02/21, we discussed Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory and how we can create learning situations that bring out the best in people and recognise their potential. Thanks to Martin Schwarz (Camphill Community Glencraig), Nicola Boyce (Lighthouse Children’s Home), Lowis Charfe (University of Central Lancashire), and Dan Nester (Barnardo’s) for sharing their experiences and examining links with creativity.


Axel Honneth’s theory of recognition provides a valuable framework for how we can create the conditions in which people feel validated as human beings. A focus on recognition offers a rich understanding of how we can build meaningful relationships with the people we support, strengthen the structural aspects that ensure they feel heard, and cultivate social inclusion. We had a fascinating discussion on 23/03/21 about why recognition is such a crucial concept, with contributions by Adam Pagett (Bradford Council), Lotte Harbo (VIA University College), and Daniela Reimer (Zurich University of Applied Science).


Often translated as ethos or stance, the German term Haltung refers to the way in which we bring our values and beliefs to life in the interactions with others. In this webinar on 27/04/21, we enjoyed an insightful discussion about how we can be authentic at a time when our Haltung is challenged. Ian Jones (Nottingham University), Cath Barton (Community Circles) and Mike Crowther (Empowerment) shared their practice experiences and why it’s important for us to be mindful and constantly reflective of our Haltung.


The concept of lifespace highlights that much of the support we offer in social pedagogical practice happens in the space that people inhabit, in their homes, their community, their lives. Lifespace also emphasises the importance of everyday activities to develop meaningful relationships. On 26/05/21 we were joined by Alex Priver (ThemPra), Matthew McFadzean (Pebbles Care) and George Evans (Camphill Community Beannachar) to reflect on how conceptualisations of lifespace have evolved during the pandemic.


In our session on empowerment on 28/09/21, we explored how we can flip the narrative about power and create the conditions in which the people we support feel a sense of ownership, control and empowerment. Re-watch the conversation with June McDonald & Joe Gibb (Renfrewshire Council), Georgina Evans (Empowerment) and Cecile Remy (UCL Institute of Education) here.

Human Learning Systems

A radical alternative to New Public Management is beginning to rehumanise public service. To celebrate the launch of the free e-book ‘Human Learning Systems: Public Service for the Real World’, our webinar on 27/10/21 explored how HLS can strengthen social pedagogical practice in organisations. Watch this recorded conversation with contributions by Dawn Plimmer (Collaborate CIC), David Barr (Aberlour Child Care Trust) and Lowis Charfe (UCLan).

Human Rights

In many countries, social pedagogy is characterised as a human rights profession. In the UK, we haven’t actually talked too much about that yet, so in this webinar it was time to explore what this means and why this is so important for practice. Taking a human rights approach has profound implications, and in this webinar from 27/11 we explored these with Jameel Hadi and Seamus Martin who have both been involved in some amazing creative community projects in Salford.

The 4 Aspects of a Message

A powerful communication model developed by German communication theorist Friedemann Schulz von Thun, the 4 aspects of a message explains just how easily we can miscommunicate, how we can clear up misunderstandings – and how we can make healthier choices about what we read into other people’s messages. In this webinar from 14/12/21, we discussed the model’s practice applications with Nicole Ashworth (Middlesbrough Council) and Alex Priver (ThemPra).

The Relational Universe in Practice

By Nicole Ashworth

I recently completed a course called “Developing Relationship-Centred Practice”. During this course, we were introduced to different social pedagogical concepts. I would like to focus further on one of those concepts, as this one really resonated with me.

The concept of the “Relational Universe” is based on using the universe as a metaphor of someone’s relationships and support systems. It is linked to systems theory. Maclean and Harrison (2015) suggest that systems theory incorporates the forming of a web, or system. The person is connected to other people who can be family, friends and wider organisations. This system should sustain and enrich people. However, it is also recognised that someone’s support system can be placed under strain due to ever changing circumstances.

We were asked to draw the relational universe of someone we are working with. I chose to draw the universe of someone I have recently supported. For the purpose of the activity, I called her Marie, which is not her real name.  Marie has experienced abusive relationships which have led to longstanding problems with drinking alcohol to excess.

In Marie’s universe, I placed her at the centre as the glowing force in this. She can be fiery at times, but also she is naturally the central focal point. Marie lives on her own. Her husband passed away years ago, and their children were removed when they were young. I depicted them as stars in the distance. Whilst they are no longer physically there, they continue to shine for Marie in her memories. Marie’s most important factor in her life is her dog, which I drew close to her. A little further along in the constellation is her friend, who I imagined as a small red planet. The reason why I chose red, an alarming colour, is because her friend has her own issues, and she and Marie can negatively influence each other. They appear to have a symbiotic relationship (although it is not for me to judge this). Marie would have probably not chosen red to describe her friend! Further down in the universe, there are two black holes which represent the alcohol. They have a strong pull on Marie and influence her a lot. In the left hand corner we have a beautiful, sparkling and rare shooting star. The shooting star in Marie’s universe stands for previous professionals who were involved in her life, and there were lots of them! Initially they were keen to support her, but Marie finds it difficult to build and maintain relationships. She easily withdraws her engagement. So, these shooting stars appear in her life or “knock on her door” and, as quickly as they appear, they disappear again; if you blink you miss them. Shooting stars are seen as something amazing and rare, something you’re lucky to have seen. People make a wish and wait for it to come true. How many times did Marie wish for someone to come along and understand her? And I don’t mean: “Yeah, I totally get you. Let’s get you sorted!” No, what I mean is for professionals to use their empathy to fully explore Marie’s feelings and thoughts and her reasons for non-engagement with professionals. The new social worker is depicted as a small blue planet, almost blending into the background and sitting on the periphery for now, until Marie invites them to move closer into her universe’s constellation.

I found the concept of the “Relational Universe” extremely valuable in order to explore relationships. It really made think about how I perceive the relationships someone has, and how the person, in this case Marie, would view them. I have no doubt that she would have had a very different constellation of planets and forces if she would have drawn her own universe. As professionals, we sometimes want to feel as if we are the most important person in someone’s life, as we want to be the agents of change. However, looking at our own universe, do we perceive our GP or dentist to be a big influencing factor in our lives? Of course not, they are metaphorically on a different planet! This concept really helped me to analyse relationships more deeply, and it acts as a stark reminder of how privileged we are to be part of someone’s universe.

Nicole Ashworth is a Social Worker, ASYE and Student Lead at Middlesbrough Council