Welcome to the Social Pedagogy Development Network

The SPDN is a grassroots movement, a place for practitioners, students, service managers and academics alike to find out how organisations up and down the UK (and beyond) have so far developed social pedagogy within their services, and to share ideas and connect with other professionals who have a similar passion for their practice. Its free events, hosted twice a year by different organisations, 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 professionals can further develop their practice and thus make an even bigger difference to children, families and groups they engage with. And through the SPDN we have learned a lot about what social pedagogical practice might look like in children’s homes, fostering services, family support services, communities for adults with disabilities, residential schools and many other settings.


Underpinning ideas

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that every has.’ (Margaret Mead)

The SPDN is underpinned by social pedagogical principles about engaging in open dialogue, of valuing people and their experiences, of connecting with others in a democratic way. We firmly believe that change happens through people, when they have opportunities to pursue what matters to them, and that we can collectively achieve meaningful change from the ground up if we recognise and nurture their sense of inspiration. We therefore aim to provide the conditions in which SPDN participants can both engage with each other and with those themes or issues they feel most passionate about, thus laying the ownership for the SPDN in their hands. Following Margaret Mead’s words, the SPDN aims to bring together small groups of thoughtful, committed citizens in order to do no less than change the world by developing a better understanding of social pedagogy. You can find out more about our vision for the SPDN here.


SPDN activities so far

To give you a flavour of what Social Pedagogy Development Network events are like, we’ve included a section with summaries of previous SPDN events. We have also drawn together a map outlining the developments of social pedagogy in the UK.


Future SPDN events

Organisers SPDN Aberdeen

The next meeting of the Social Pedagogy Development Network will be held in Aberdeen on June 9 and 10, 2016. Hosted by the Camphill School Aberdeen and the Robert Gordon University, this SPDN event explores a specific theme in order to support participants on their social pedagogy journeys as well as further the discourse on social pedagogy here in the UK: social pedagogy across the lifecourse. As a holistic, relationship-centred approach to supporting individuals, families and groups in their human development, social pedagogy has a longstanding tradition in many European countries and can be found in educational and care settings from the cradle to the grave: in early years settings, schools, play work, youth clubs, care and family support services, youth and adult justice institutions, community support, care for people with disabilities and for older persons at home, in residential homes, including hospices. Across all of these diverse settings and drawing on a variety of methods, social pedagogy seeks to ensure that people are treated with dignity, are supported in unfolding their unique potential, feel more strongly connected to other people and their community and enjoy a higher quality of life.

Whilst social pedagogy has gained much interest within the children and young people’s workforce here in the UK, it has yet to gain ground in adult settings. By exploring its integrative potential as an academic discipline and field of practice across the entire lifecourse, we aim to strengthen emerging interest and demonstrate the benefits of an overarching ethical and conceptual framework that spans both services for children and adults. And our hosts at Camphill can offer fascinating insights into how this can be done. We hope that participants will leave both with new ideas of how social pedagogy can enhance their own practice and how they can help widen its scope into other practice settings. Please click the button at the left or this link for further details and free registration.


Joining the SPDN

Participating in the Social Pedagogy Development Network is free of charge and more like joining a movement rather than registering with a membership network. To become part of the SPDN and receive regular email updates about its activities, please click here.


The organisers

The Social Pedagogy Development Network is co-ordinated by ThemPra in partnership with Jacaranda Development and the Centre for Understanding Social Pedagogy at the UCL Institute of Education. Since 2008, we have been working together on developing a stronger identity of social pedagogy in the UK and have more recently formed the Social Pedagogy Consortium in order to jointly deliver the learning and development programme on the Head, Heart, Hands programme.