Social Pedagogy

If you’re new to social pedagogy, why not watch this short video. Stuart provides supported lodging to young people leaving care. He participated in the Head, Heart, Hands program and has gone on to qualify as a social pedagogy practitioner. Listen to him talk about the positive and significant impact social pedagogy has had on his practice.


The identity of social pedagogy is in its values and approaches to work with people. As an academic discipline, the theoretical foundation draws from related fields, such as sociology, psychology, philosophy, education, medicine, politics and law. In addition, social pedagogy includes practical and creative activities such as sport, outdoor activities, music and arts. This does not restrict the application of social pedagogy to so-called direct work, but rather prompts us to reconsider our approach to social interaction with service-users in all aspects of work in social care and social work.


As an approach with a humanist value-base, social pedagogy offers a coherent way of thinking and working across complex systems. The social pedagogical setting or practice is held within an institutional context, which in turn is part of the wider community and society, including the political context. Theory underpins practice, both practice and theory link to policy, and research informs all areas. In the words of Karl Mager (1844) “Social Pedagogy is the theory of all the personal, social and moral education in a given society, including the description of what has happened in practice.”1 Social pedagogy can be applied in any work setting where the focus is to support individuals and/or groups. It enables staff to support children and adults alike in order to overcome challenging life situations, and social pedagogical leadership supports this work. The aim is to initiate and support processes of empowerment, the creation of learning opportunities with trajectories to growth and wellbeing. Social pedagogy simultaneously aims for more inclusive systems of community and society by effecting change within these systems. The social pedagogue works alongside people, in interaction with them and also acting within and on systems – be they institutional, community and/or societal. Part of the meaning of the “social” in social pedagogy is a solidarity with vulnerable and marginalised individuals and groups; a social pedagogue supports them, with the aim of reducing their vulnerability and marginalisation. In their work, social pedagogues use broadly educational means, working towards social justice. Social pedagogy practice is focussed on purposefully and reflectively building relationship with the service-user and realising the potential of the relationship, which can be strengthened through social interaction and joint activities. The social pedagogue steers this relationship and common activities in such a way that they result in authentic, positive experiences. An important dimension of social pedagogy is to empower people in a democratic way to achieve positive and lasting change. This is well described in the words of Chinese thinker and social philosopher, Confucius (551bc-479bc):

‘Tell me and I forget Show me and I remember Let me do and I understand’

Social pedagogy has long history in continental Europe and a growing level of interest in the UK and Ireland. Jacaranda is an approved assessment centre for two qualification at levels 3 and 5. Why not contact us to learn more about the general development of social pedagogy in the UK?


Jacaranda offers work-based learning and development in social pedagogy. We provide systemic support which helps to realise the efficacy of your investment. Changes in beliefs and ways of doing do not occur in bubbles, nor solely on the front-line;  research, learning theories and our experience show the importance of a systems approach in fostering meaningful practice development. See Develop for further details. Jacaranda Recruitment provides social pedagogues, social educators and social workers (HCPC registered) with a social pedagogic orientation. See Recruit for further details.

1 Winkler, M. (1988) Eine Theorie der Sozialpädagogik. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.