The foster carers are based in six demonstration sites and their next step on the programme will be an eight day core learning and development course. During this they will gain an understanding of social pedagogy and how they can put its principles into practice to help the children in their care.
Through the core course, which has been designed by the Social Pedagogy Consortium, the foster carers will learn about the development of social pedagogy theory and its key values and principles. They will also explore issues such as childhood development, attachment theory, risk management, children’s rights, communication theory and reflective practice.
The first few foster carers to join the programme have already been through the course and the early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with some reporting they are starting to change the way they care for children. The aim is for all the foster carers to have completed the course by April 2014.
Over the following two years the foster carers will put what they have learnt into practice with the support of 13 fully trained social pedagogues. In addition, the foster carers will also work with the evaluation team led by Loughborough University to help the programme understand the impact they and their new way of working are having with the children in their care.
Raina Sheridan, deputy chief executive at the Fostering Network and the Head, Heart, Hands programme director, said: “We have been delighted by the appetite among foster carers to learn about social pedagogy and be a part of the programme. It is unfortunate that we haven’t been able to accept everyone, but we are pleased that more than 200 foster carers have been confirmed.
“The foster carers are embarking on an exciting journey of discovery, not just learning about social pedagogy as a new approach to fostering children in this country, but also about themselves and the different ways they can help to improve the lives of children.
“We hope they all enjoy the experience of being a part of Head, Heart, Hands, and that with the support of the social pedagogues and their fostering service they are able to help the children in their care to have a better experience of childhood and go on to achieve their potential.”
The Social Pedagogy Consortium is the Fostering Network’s delivery partner for the programme and consists of Jacaranda Recruitment, Thempra Social Pedagogy and Professor Pat Petrie from the Institute of Education.
For more information about the programme, visit the Head, Heart, Hands section of the Fostering Network website.