The Social Pedagogy Momentum project Bulletin
Momentum Bulletin


Welcome to the fifth issue of Momentum Bulletin. This newsletter is circulated by email to foster carers, social workers and trainers who choose to subscribe for free. Please pass it on to anyone who may be interested. You can also join our Facebook group.

It is a forum for us all to share ideas about social pedagogy, feedback on training, book reviews, recipes, activities etc.

It has been sparked off by a group on the social pedagogy training course in Hackney, London, but it is open to everyone. We hope it will help to keep up the momentum between training and beyond!

Social Pedagogy concepts

I think the Common Third is a concept that foster carers grasp easily and we think we do it all the time. I have to give a little presentation about it at our last HHH training group so I revisited the folder to see if there was more to it.

Common Third is about using an activity to strengthen the relationship between a foster carer and a child and to develop new skills. This could be an activity such as fixing a bike, cooking, going on an outing together. It needs to be more than just doing something together.

It is about sharing an activity that becomes a symbol of the relationship, something else that brings us together - two people connected by an activity we enjoy.

The Common Third requires full participation of the child in all aspects, including planning and evaluating the activity. It is about both the child and the adult learning something and both reflecting on it.

The activity itself doesn't really matter, it is about how we interact with children, how our relationship develops, learning together and sharing a sense of happiness.

An example for me is learning to ski with my two foster children. We were all novices so there was no power imbalance. We were all a bit scared to start with but encouraged each other along and had a laugh videoing each other looking cool one minute and tumbling the next!

I think it was good for the children to see that adults can  make mistakes and learn from them by listening to instructions. It was also useful to see how we all overcame fear and enjoyed an activity together. They didn't help to plan the activity this time but they certainly want to go again!

Inspirational words

"I prefer the word pedagogue to teacher. A teacher is someone paid by the hour to drill something into the child, while a pedagogue draws something out.

If you want to be a pedagogue you have to learn to talk with children instead of to them. You have to learn to trust their capacities and possibilities."

Janusz Korczak (1878-1942) Polish pedagogue and paediatrician

Dates for your diary

Hackney social pedagogues are in the process of planning dates for two Scrapbook Events for HHH Core Course participants and their families during the May Half Term Break.

The Open Space Event to discuss the future of Social Pedagogy in Hackney will take place on 9th May from 10am to 4pm at the Tomlinson Centre, Hackney - all welcome.


Your feedback

Would you like the opportunity to tell us what you think about fostering, and Head, Heart, Hands?

The Head, Heart, Hands independent evaluation team would like to invite you to share your thoughts and opinions about the Head, Heart, Hands (HHH) programme to introduce social pedagogy into UK fostering. This is an opportunity to feedback your thoughts and experiences of HHH, and fostering in general, to local and national decision makers.
Your views are extremely important!

You can take part in the evaluation by completing a survey by Monday 31st March 2014. In addition, or instead, we would like to invite you for an interview. The interviews are very informal, and can be done over the phone at a time that suits you best. They usually take about an hour. We have appointments available going into April for any interviews.

We are also looking to speak to the children and young people who you foster, aged five years or older. We would like to know more about their experiences of foster care to date.  These interviews will also be very informal and take about an hour to an hour and a half. 

Anything you or your foster child say in the interview will be anonymous and stay confidential to the evaluation team.

Participation in the evaluation will be a fantastic opportunity for you and your fostered child to feedback views about the Head, Heart, Hands programme, social pedagogy and fostering in general to local and national decision makers.

If you are interested in finding out more about the survey or the interview, please contact Helen Trivedi, 01509 228759, or Sam McDermid, 01509 228365,


Click on these links for more information

Social Pedagogy Development Network (SPDN);

Staffordshire Head Heart Hand video clip;

More background on social pedagogy (useful links to history on bottom of first page);

Ofsted praises Derbyshire County Council's use of Social Pedagogy

"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."

Source: Ofsted report on Derbyshire County Council

A good read

The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz is an interesting distillation of lessons Grosz has learned from 25 years of psychoanalysis.

Each chapter is a short story about a patient as well as his reflections on his work with them. Grosz has changed all identifying details to protect patient confidentiality. However, this doesn't make them any less vivid.

He came to fatherhood later in life and says he wrote the book to pass on his learning to his children, as a kind of legacy.

One of his reflections is on the excessive praise heaped on children which can become meaningless and at worst, damaging and counter-productive.

For example, he says it is far better to praise the effort a child makes rather than praising them for being clever. This can put them under pressure to always be clever and lead to under-achievement, as experiments he cites have shown.

It is a book that initially seems quite light but actually has nuggets of valuable insights for parenting and life in general.
Keith Clark, a foster carer in Surrey, says: "The boy who was raised as a dog is not a pedagogic book but I would say a must read for any foster carer."

You can order it here

Following on from LGBT adoption and fostering week, you may be interested in Proud Parents, my book of case studies of lesbians and gay men who have adopted or fostered children for at least three years.

You can order it here

Can anyone else recommend a good book? Please email any reviews or recommendations.

What does Social Pedagogy mean to you?

Keith Clark, a foster carer on the Surrey HHH training says: "I describe Social Pedagogy as a way of life that enables me to live and work with a child to help the child in every way, working with their Head, Heart and Hands.

"For most people this is enough, for some they want or need more information, so I will tell them that it is also a set of tools that I can use to help a person to improve their life, it is a way of understanding where a child has come from (lifeworld orientation) so that we can understand why a child behaves as he/she does.

"Using the Diamond Model theory we can look at what is good in the child so that we can start to build in areas of strength. I could go on for hours, as the Surrey Core Course knows, but I would like to see what others think and maybe discuss how others are using what we have learnt to help with their foster children."

Please share your thoughts and experiences by emailing Nicola or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Items for next issue

Please email Nicola Hill with items for the next issue.

Do you want to respond to any of the items in this issue?

What are your thoughts on the Social Pedagogy training?

Have you read a good book about Social Pedagogy or parenting in general?

Can you contribute a favourite recipe?

Have you found any good activities to do with your children?