Due to the centrality of relationship in the social pedagogic approach, which includes an unconditional positive regard for the individual, a service user experiences a more personalised belief in themselves as people, and in their capacities. This is achieved via an authentic relationship that is both professional and affectionate.
Evidence shows that service users develop a sense of self-responsibility and risk-competence, from which certain actions are triggered. Agency and self-efficacy are encouraged and supported and thereby provide trajectories to reaching potential.
For example, children living in a residential home who are consulted and are part of decorating the common room are much more likely to treat the interior with care. This results in positive experiences such as pride in showing the home to visitors, confidence in their own abilities, and so on, and fewer negative consequences such as damage.
In February 2014, the Ofsted inspection for Derbyshire Children and Young Adults, with whom we have worked, stated:
“The Local Authority is committed to further improving outcomes for children through the use of systemic practice across frontline teams and the social pedagogy model within residential care. This is already having a positive impact on outcomes for children. For example, the social pedagogy model has resulted in reductions in the need for restraint and a reduction in the numbers of children missing education. It has also been effective in improving staff morale and reducing sickness levels.”
An effort is made to resist the belief that there can be a linear causality between a particular method and a particular outcome. A social pedagogic approach takes the service user themselves as the starting point for all measures of success and as such narratives and stories offer great insight into benefits. Incremental steps are taken in the work of Social Pedagogy with the aim that a service user gains independence and trust in being supported by the immediate community.
Social Pedagogy provides a common language and works towards shared understandings. The resultant coherence within systems is something we are told time and again by service users is highly desirable and its absence at the outset of a programme of Social Pedagogy development a cause of considerable frustration.
Social Pedagogy is a safe and caring approach to working with people that aims to achieve a non-stigmatised sense of belonging to community and society. It is this, particularly from children in care and young people who have left care, that we hear is the most highly prized outcome of all. A young person who misses a school trip with friends when a booking deadline is missed because permission requests float through a system designed to support her, says, “I just wanted a normal life.”
2A young person who has left care, member of a Social Pedagogy development Steering Group