University course designed to help social care workers and foster carers has contract extended

24 June 2015

A pilot University of Derby course, which was introduced to help social care teams interact more effectively with children, young people and families, has had its contract extended for a further two years.

The programme, called An Introduction to Social Pedagogy, was designed following discussions with Derbyshire County Council to introduce a higher education strand to a programme of holistic learning by the authority in 2011.

The authority put forward more than 100 foster carers and social care workers for the pilot course, which is one module taken over an academic year.

And due to the success of the programme, Derbyshire County Council has requested a further two-year contract to be rolled out to another 100 staff.

To celebrate, along with recognising the students’ personal achievements, an event was held at the University of Derby’s Kedleston Road campus where each student was presented with a certificate of achievement.

John Bowie, Senior Lecturer in Social and Community Studies and Module Lead for An Introduction to Social Pedagogy, said: “This was a new learning pathway designed with the participants in mind.

“The University of Derby assembled the course in close discussion with our partners at Derbyshire County Council.

“The learners on the pilot programme included students who had not been involved in formal study for some years and the high pass rate reflects the enthusiasm and dedication of workers charged with the delivery of care for children and young people in Derbyshire.”

Stephen Wood, Head of Department for Social and Community Studies at the University of Derby, added: “Social Pedagogy is widely used across Europe as a way of communicating and establishing a professional relationship with children, young people and adults who, for a variety of reasons, have been difficult to engage with.

6 people at the social pedagogy event

“It is a means to consider the person as an individual, to treat holistically and importantly, the Social Pedagogue as a practitioner, who works alongside the individual using a set of principles.

“An evaluation of the two-year programme was undertaken by Derbyshire County Council and was applauded in terms of the structure of the learning, the delivery, the pace of delivery and crucially the noticeable impact on the staff who took the module and how they transferred their learning in to direct work with the children and young people and helped to change lives.

“In order to recognise the achievement of those who took the module, it was felt appropriate to hold a celebration of achievement event. In addition, it seemed only right to acknowledge the positive partnership that made the process possible between Derbyshire County Council and the University of Derby.”

Berni Hughes has been a foster carer for three-and-a-half years and has recently passed the course.

She said: “After doing a two-day Derbyshire County Council course, together with the regular County Council reflective practice meetings, my interest grew in the concepts of a more holistic type of caring of a foster child. After undertaking the course, I now appreciate that experience alone does not necessarily lead to learning.  It is the deliberate reflection on the experiences that is vital to self-development as a carer and the subsequent quality of care of the young person.

“The celebration was an upbeat, well-organised event, with a sense of sincere appreciation for efforts of the students in the completion of their project.”

The celebration event saw more than 50 students attend, along with Ian Johnson, Strategic Director for the Children and Younger Adults Department at Derbyshire County Council, Professor Rod Dubrow-Marshall, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Derby, Dr Paula Crick, Dean of the College of Health and Social Care, John Bowie, as well as Stephen Wood, all of who delivered short speeches on the concept of social pedagogy.

Ian Johnson said he was “enormously pleased” to attend the graduation event.

He added: “The carers and staff involved have worked really hard to bring theory and working practice together to gain this qualification.

“We are pleased to be able to continue the relationship with the University to further support this work which is clearly providing improved outcomes for children, young people and their families.”