Relational Leadership – new dates for our experiential online course

How Social Pedagogy and Human Learning Systems can enable you to be an effective relational leader

This course is for you if ...

Whether you’re an experienced leader or are hoping to take on greater responsibility, our Relational Leadership course could be just what you need. It’s one of the first courses to draw on Human Learning Systems, exploring how HLS can enable purpose-driven leadership in complex environments across organisations and local systems. With a strong emphasis on learning transfer and peer learning, the course enables you to connect your learning straight to your unique practice context and critically reflect within an inspiring peer group on how your leadership can have the greatest positive impact.

Relational leadership is important because it:

  • Strengthens team morale by empowering and valuing employees.
  • Develops teamwork by fostering cooperation and collaboration among people.
  • Achieves positive change by aligning people with a clear and ethical purpose.
  • Enhances learning by embracing complexity and diversity.
  • Builds trust by creating authentic and empathetic relationships.

Our next cohort starts in spring 2024

Session 1: 24 Apr, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 2: 25 Apr, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 3: 15 May, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 4: 16 May, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 5: 5 Jun, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 6: 6 Jun, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 7: 3 Jul, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 8: 4 Sep, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 9: 25 Sep, 2024 – 9.30-12.30


Find out more here or click the button to enquire about joining our next cohort.

Further questions?

Please get in touch with us via email if you would like to know more about this course or any of our other learning activities.

Making Co-Production Meaningful – new dates for our experiential online course

Learn how to co-create and co-produce positive change with the people and communities you serve

This course is for you if ...

Designed for anyone working in public service, such as social workers, educators, health professionals, community workers, managers, and leaders, our course will introduce you to the key principles of social pedagogy and Human Learning Systems, and how you can use these approaches to co-create change with the people you support. With a strong emphasis on learning transfer and peer learning, the course enables you to connect your learning straight to your unique practice context and critically reflect within an inspiring peer group on how your co-production practices can have the greatest positive impact. Here are some of the benefits of taking this course:

  • You will gain a deeper understanding of the key principles of co-production, collaboration, and participation.
  • You will learn how to apply these principles in your own practice.
  • You will develop the skills and confidence to co-create meaningful change with the people you support.
  • You will connect with a community of practitioners who are also committed to co-production.

Our next cohort starts in February 2024

Session 1: 27 Feb, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 2: 5 Mar, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 3: 12 Mar, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 4: 19 Mar, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 5: 16 Apr, 2024 – 9.30-12.30

Find out more here or click the button to book your place on our next cohort.


Further questions?

Please get in touch with us via email if you would like to know more about this course or any of our other learning activities.

Developing Relationship-Centred Practice – online course

How the Diamond Model can help you place relationships at the heart of your practice

This course is for you if ...

Do you want to build meaningful and authentic relationships that foster well-being, learning, empowerment, and social inclusion? Our course will help you learn and apply the Diamond Model, a powerful concept in social pedagogy that visualises the potential and richness of every human being.

In this course, you will learn:

  • How to express your values and ethics in your interactions with others
  • How to develop authentic relationships that support social inclusion and meaningful belonging
  • How to support people’s well-being and happiness through holistic and strength-based practice
  • How to facilitate learning opportunities that enhance resilience and empowerment
  • How to create positive experiences in the everyday that enable independence and inter-dependence

Our next cohort starts in January 2024

Session 1: 26 Jan, 2024 – 9.30-12.30  
Session 2: 02 Feb, 2024 – 9.30-12.30
Session 3: 09 Feb, 2024 – 9.30-12.30  
Session 4: 01 Mar, 2024 – 9.30-12.30  
Session 5: 08 Mar, 2024– 9.30-12.30  
Session 6: 15 Mar, 2024 – 9.30-12.30 


Find out more below or click the button to book your place on our next cohort.



Further questions:

Please get in touch with us via email if you would like to know more about this course or any of our other learning activities.

The Social Pedagogy Development Network is back!

Have you been missing the excitement and networking opportunities of our Social Pedagogy Development Network events in the pre-pandemic past? Then we’ve got exciting news!

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been working on a plan to return to in-person events very soon. We’re delighted to share this with you below and hope you like it!

Keeping the SPDN free and affordable

As you might be aware, all of the SPDN events in the past have only been possible, because we’ve had brilliant host organisations who have kindly provided the space for us to get together. And as organisers, we’ve been happy to co-ordinate the SPDN, because we know that change happens when people come together to share insight, inspiration and ideas.

Like everyone, we’re acutely aware that we’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. This means we’re determined to keep participation free of charge and were looking for a solution that doesn’t incur huge travel costs for those of you who want to take part. We were also very mindful that it makes it all the harder for any organisation to just find the funds to host an in-person event for 100+ people. So here’s what we thought would work:

Small is beautiful: simultaneous mini-events in different locations

Instead of one large central event, we’re hoping to hold several small events, all happening at the same time and in various locations, all inter-connected via video link and social media. This, we hope, will mean that you’ll be able to join an in-person event near you – or put one on yourself, with our virtual support!

What will happen at the mini-events?

One of the most foundational tenets of social pedagogy is that every single person is intrinsically rich and resourceful. Everbody, no matter their age, has the potential to thrive if we can create enabling conditions. However, many of us work within organisational and societal contexts that restrict these enabling conditions. So how can we bring the notion of the rich child/young person/adult to life in our practice? Exploring responses to this question will be the main focus of an engaging, fun and creative session!

When will it happen?

We’ve not yet decided on a date but plan to do this in June, across 4 or more locations on the same morning (10am-12.30pm). We’re also planning to hold an online-only follow-up session a week or so later to share insights and learning across the events. We’ll set the date together with whoever would be happy to host a mini-event, which is where we need your help!

Help us make it happen!

To realise this idea we’re hoping to find a small number of convenors who will each host an in-person event for 10 to 20 people. Could you be one of them?

All mini-events will follow the same format, which we will co-design together with the convenors, so you’ll know exactly what to do and can bring in any ideas of your own if you want. To connect all different events with each other, we’ll provide an introductory input via Zoom, gather the outputs from each local event and share these at an online-only session shortly after the in-person event.

All registrations will be made centrally, so that these are accessible to anyone in the SPDN and beyond, and will remain free of charge. Local catering arrangements will be at the discretion of each host and could range from everyone bringing their own lunch, or something to share or paying a small catering contribution.

Let us know if you’d like to convene a mini-event

If you’d be happy to be actively involved and have access to a meeting room or any other space that can comfortably accommodate between 10 and 20 people, then please let us know by 24 March at the latest! You can find out more here or just click here to drop us an email.

Courageous Conversations – upcoming online courses in 2023

Join our new course to improve constructive communication that leads to greater connection

The Elephant in the Room

We’ve all been there. Yet another elephant is on the loose and has taken centre stage in the room. Yet again, everybody is trying hard to pretend that it isn’t there. After all, elephants are big and heavy, so pushing it back out of the room isn’t really an option. But what if we could find the courage to address the elephant in the room constructively? Better yet, what if we could have meaningful conversations about difficult issues in ways that improve the relationships between us?

These are the questions at the heart of our new experiential online learning programme, tailored to the particular professional context of social care. We know how challenging it can be to have to deliver difficult messages to the people you support. We also know how beneficial it can be to create the conditions for meaningful dialogue with the people you support, so that you can have a courageous conversation.

Social work requires practitioners to work in challenging situations and sometimes hostile environments. Lord Laming (2003) called for ‘respectful uncertainty’ whereby social workers are able to capture the delicate balance of trust and doubt. Likewise, Cooper (2018) suggests these are often the instances where professionals can lose their heads with anxiety and become very reactive. And Dolezal & Gibson (2022) argue that social workers need to be attuned to the corrosive impact of shame and shame-avoidance, which plays a particularly important role when we have to talk about challenging things. Being self-reflective in how they communicate within these tension fields is therefore a critical skill. Through this learning programme we want to enable you to develop your skillset and experience the benefits of having courageous conversations within your organisation and with the people you support.

Learning Takes Courage

Learning requires a leap of faith into the unknown, the courage to try things out, and the support of people who share the learning journey. We have therefore designed this learning programme to draw on the power of peer learning, combined with insights from communication theory, conflict resolution methods, space for self-reflection and action planning.

Over the course of 6 3hr sessions, we will build a peer learning community in which participants increasingly take on greater responsibility for supporting each other in the ongoing process of applying your learning to your respective practice context. Why is this a powerful way to achieve practice improvement? Because converting learning experiences into meaningful behaviour change relies on three factors:

  • CAPABILITY: Acquiring new skills and insights into relevant communication theory and conflict resolution methods
  • MOTIVATION: Being eager and feeling confident to create positive change, finding your inner courage to address conflicts pro-actively and constructively
  • OPPORTUNITY: Finding ways to apply learning in practice, creating the space for self-reflection within the peer learning community, and identifying further opportunities for leading courageous conversations

We expect participants to commit to taking action in between each session, so that you can practice having more courageous conversations both in your professional and personal life.

Session Content

We explore courageous conversations as the interplay between you and another person, framed by the environment in which this interplay takes place. Importantly, we believe that courageous conversations should be an empowering encounter for everyone involved.

Sessions 1 & 2: Find your courage, face your fears

In the first two sessions, we start off your learning journey with you. By introducing you to a range of communication theories, including non-violent communication, we help you better understand the dynamics at play in communication, how you usually communicate and the implications this might have for leading courageous conversations.

Sessions 3 & 4: Connect with empathy

In the third and fourth session, we shift the focus towards better understanding the other person’s role and how you can help someone else be open to what you wish to convey, provide relational certainty, and empathically listen to truly understand their point of view.

Sessions 5 & 6: Create the conditions for learning together

In the last two sessions, we explore how you can create an environment that enables people to have courageous conversations, for instance through imaginative ways to provide feedback, by framing courageous conversations as learning together and integrating critical reflection processes into existing structures such as supervision, team meetings, review meetings, and appraisals.

Each 3-hr session is designed to connect capability, motivation and opportunity by giving you time to explore an area of your practice that you’re determined to change, plan a micro-intervention – a small thing you’ll do to communicate more constructively – and commit to your peers that you’ll come back the following session having tried this out.

Who We Are

The course is designed and delivered by Ali Gardner, a registered social worker and director of Head, Hearts, Hands in Practice, and Gabriel Eichsteller, a social pedagogue and co-director with ThemPra Social Pedagogy CIC. Our backgrounds are in social work practice, policy, education, training, publishing and international projects in the field of social pedagogy, so we’ve worked with a broad range of people in environments where authentic dialogue and trusting relationships are critical. Ali has harnessed these experiences to create the new Research in Practice for Adults briefing paper on Courageous Conversations. This learning programme builds on this and our other work around relationship-centred practice to help you transfer these insights into your practice.

Course Dates

We’re currently fully booked and working on identifying new course dates. Please check back here soon or leave your contact details below.


The cost per participant is £300 (ex VAT). We offer a 5% discount per place to organisations purchasing 5+ places and a 10% discount per place for 10+ places. Payment can be made either by bank transfer or invoice and must be received at least 14 days prior to the start date.

Register Your Place

To enquire about upcoming courses, please leave your details in the below form:

Professional Standards

Upon completing the learning programme, we will provide you with a certificate over 21 hours of CPD. You can use your applied learning from this course as part of your CPD requirements, including towards the following professional standards:

Post-qualifying standards: Knowledge and Skills Statements:

Person-centred practice | Effective assessment and outcome based support planning | Direct work with individuals and families | Supervision, critical analysis and reflection | Professional ethics and leadership | Values and ethics | Influencing and governing practice excellence within the organisation and community | Developing confident and capable social workers | Assuring good social work practice and development | Relationship-based practice supervision | Effective use of power and authority as a practice supervisor

Care Quality Commission – Key lines of enquiry:

Effective | Caring | Responsive | Well-led

Professional Capabilities Framework for Social Work in England:

Professionalism | Values and ethics | Diversity and equality | Rights, justice and economic well-being | Critical reflection and analysis | Intervention and skills | Professional leadership

Royal College of Occupational Therapists – Professional Standards:

Understanding relationship | Service users | Screen needs | Develop intervention | Evaluate impact | Collaborative | Communication | Support development

Further Questions?

Please get in touch with us via email if you would like to know more about this course or any of our other learning activities.