Readers’ views, 11 March 2010

Issue of the week Michael Fitzpatrick’s article on social pedagogy, 25 February

Offensive and ignorant attack

For Michael Fitzpatrick to associate the development of social pedagogy with Nazi Germany is offensive and does not reflect practice today (“Forget the pedagogy waffle”, 25 February). You only have to look at the Unicef report on the well-being of children to see that our European neighbours are clearly achieving better outcomes for children and young people than we are. Social pedagogy plays a significant role in these achievements.

Fitzpatrick is clearly ignorant of the strong youth work tradition in the UK which shares the values of social pedagogy and the work of educationalists such as AS Neil whose work predates the rise of fascism in Germany.

Robin Konieczny, County active citizenship co-ordinator, Norwich

The rest of Europe values pedagogy

We explored the issue of social pedagogy in a recent Nuffield briefing paper, drawing on two cross-European studies (

The work generated fresh perspectives on the conceptualisation and delivery of child welfare services that are highly relevant to current debates about UK social work.

We found that elsewhere in Europe social work teams commonly included other specialist graduate professionals, including social pedagogues but also psychologists and (in some cases) legal professionals.

Social pedagogy was not seen as an alternative to social work, but as a key complementary profession, specialising in direct work with children and families.

To position social pedagogy as a competitor to UK social work, as Fitzpatrick does, is misleading. A better question is whether it is reasonable to expect UK social workers to do a job, albeit with support from less qualified workers, that is shared among members of multi-professional graduate teams in other European countries.

The development of professional differentiation within social work teams, may offer a way of addressing the challenges facing UK social work.

Dr Janet Boddy, Professor June Statham, Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London

Draft guidance up for consultation

Two factual inaccuracies in Michael Fitzpatrick’s article need to be cleared up. Firstly, social pedagogy isn’t recommended in the Scie/Nice draft guidance as it has not yet been fully evaluated in the UK.

Secondly, the draft guidance is now out for consultation.

It’s important to get all views on board so that, by the time the final recommendations are published in the autumn, effective change can be brought to the health and well-being of children and young people who are care-experienced.

We invite Michael Fitzpatrick to join the stakeholder consultation and engage in what is a robust process getting to the heart of the evidence-base.

Organisations can register to be a stakeholder via the Nice website.

Amanda Edwards, Deputy chief executive,Social Care Institute for Excellence

Education and care combined in one

Social pedagogy has the potential to professionalise the care workforce in a distinctive way not, as Fitzpatrick suggests, as a replacement for social work.

Few qualified social workers actually work in children’s residential care in the UK, partly because of its low status. In their own countries, however, social pedagogues mostly work face to face with the same group of children, every day.

Their work is both education, in the broadest sense of the word, and care. Recognising work in children’s residential homes as social pedagogy would be a step towards improving the lives of looked-after children.

Professor Pat Petrie, Centre for Understanding Social Pedagogy, University of London

Approach resonates with care staff

As I travel all over the country, speaking with staff in residential homes, time and again I hear about the resonance the social pedagogy approach has. Like-minded people meet in the Social Pedagogy Development Network.

We extend a warm welcome to Dr Fitzpatrick to attend the next meeting in June. For a full response to Dr Fitzpatrick go to and select Publications and Media.

Abby Ladbrooke, Managing director, Jacaranda

These letters are published in the 11 March issue of Community Care magazine under the heading Pedagogy criticism out of place


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