Welcome to the Social Pedagogy Development Network

The SPDN is a grassroots movement, a community 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


Since its inception in 2009, the SPDN has come together regularly at free events hosted by different organisations involved in the social pedagogy scene. In 2020, we celebrated the 20th SPDN event by holding the first virtual gathering due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since 2023, we’re back to an annual in-person event with a new hybrid format that connects in-person mini-events across different locations via Zoom.

Future SPDN events

The SPDN is now combining the power of face-to-face conversations with the opportunities of connecting online across geographical locations. So there are two types of annual SPDN events: The mini-SPDN event and the online gathering. The annual mini-SPDN event happens in lots of different locations all at the same time, all inter-connected via video link and social media. This means that, no matter where you are in the UK or beyond, you’re hopefully able to join an in-person event near you – or put one on yourself for a small group of 10-20 people, with our virtual support! If you’re interested in hosting a mini-event, then please click here for further details. The online gathering thematically complements the mini-SPDN event, so is particularly interesting for participants coming together at the mini-SPDN, but equally open to anyone else who is interested.
In 2024, the SPDN events will focus on the power of storytelling in social pedagogical practice. We started with an online seminar led by Nick Andrews, research and practice development officer at the Developing Evidence-Enriched Practice (DEEP) project on 11 March. The free seminar introduced participants to the essentials of Most Significant Change technique. It outlined the principles and practice of gathering MSC stories and exploring and learning from them in MSC story selection panels, with a range of examples that enabled participants to determine how they might integrate MSC in your own practice. Watch it below.


Our next face-to-face event will be happening in October, 2024 from 10am-12.30pm (GMT) and will take place across different locations, all to be confirmed soon.

Joining the SPDN

Participating in the Social Pedagogy Development Network is free of charge and more like becoming part of a community rather than registering with a membership network. To join the SPDN and receive regular email updates about its activities, please click here – and most importantly, take part in one of our regular events!

The organisers

The Social Pedagogy Development Network is co-ordinated by ThemPra in partnership with the Social Pedagogy Professional Association (SPPA) and the Global Alliance for Social Pedagogy and Social Education. We have worked together with Jacaranda Development, Treehouse Associates, and the Centre for Understanding Social Pedagogy at the UCL Institute of Education, who have previously been involved in organising the SPDN. Together we have been developing a stronger identity of social pedagogy in the UK and collaborated on various pilot projects, including the Head, Heart, Hands programme led by the Fostering Network. We have also been working together on developing standards in social pedagogy and setting up SPPA. Our collaboration has been underpinned by a shared vision for social pedagogy in the UK and our commitment to demonstrating the synergies and strength that come from co-operating.