How is social pedagogy valued in our home?
A brief reflection – Hannah Severn (Assistant Manager and SPPA trustee)
When Fallon, a friendly Cockapoo came to visit our local authority children’s home, we saw a new side to one of our children. They adopted a caring and protective role we had not seen before. They radiated a sense of joy, and identified with being kind to animals. This is just one example of how we value our social pedagogical approach and was recognised when Ofsted visited in January 2019 and again awarded us an ‘Outstanding’ grade. We are very proud of the way education in the formal and holistic sense hold a place in our Home. Through our Social Pedagogy influences we have come to appreciate the value of learning and education in the “everyday” as well as the more classroom-based curriculum goals. The idea behind this is to help raise children’s self-esteem as they discover skills they may not have had a chance to uncover in the formal school setting – we would never have known how to interpret and build on the huge shift in self-perception that occurred when Fallon visited a child who had in past described themselves as “unmanageable” and “dangerous” without social pedagogical theories and influences.
The Ofsted inspectors recognised the contribution of social pedagogy to our practice when they commented in their report:
Children experience warmth and attentiveness from highly skilled staff who understand the complex needs of children. Children enjoy excellent relationships with staff who are committed and determined to help them develop, manage their emotions and keep themselves safe. In this nurturing, welcoming and stable home, children feel safe and respond to high quality care from staff.
The value of learning and education is embedded in the ethos of the home. Using a social pedagogy approach, children’s formal education is supplemented by staff encouraging them to learn through the ‘everyday’ to develop their self-esteem, communication and day-to-day living skills to prepare them for their futures. Staff work effectively with school staff and the virtual school to ensure that children have positive educational opportunities appropriate to their needs.
Wherever we can we try and draw on theories and models and reflect this in our practices; as a manager I can see this in the way we talk about our Home’s values and the way information is captured and recorded. We are committed to sharing our understanding and experiences in how learning about Social Pedagogy has directly impacted the lives of those around us. We are starting to see success stories for our young people and are delighted to see this recognised in external reports of our work:
“[Senior Practitioner] is an advocate of the Social Pedagogy framework which is concerned with wellbeing, learning and growth of each individual. The ethos being that each person has potential, is valuable, resourceful and can make a meaningful contribution to the to the wider community if we seek ways to include them… [Senior Practitioner] also stated that the team are aspirational and child centred and providing stability to the vulnerable young people placed within their care”
(NYAS’s Independent Person’s Report, December 2018).
Another way our holistic learning is reflected is in the time we spend in restoring relationships when things have gone ‘wonky’. We believe that children can develop skills in reparation and communication that can be transferred to other areas of their life. Indeed, two residents were involved in creating a film led by the Restorative Development Team about living here, with particular emphasis on what they have learnt and experienced in terms of relationship building. In this exercise their experiences of being in care; their stories around transitioning to and then living with us and explanations of the roles they perceive us as their “carers” playing in their lives has been captured. With their consent this footage was shared with some of the County Councillors – it was a powerful moment to observe as these two children were able to creatively challenge some of the perceptions that were held about what is it is like to live in a Residential Home and how we can complement a child’s support network without challenging the place of the birth family.