Social Pedagogy in the UK: Gaining a firm foothold?


  • Pat Petrie



social pedagogy, pedagogical theory, UK


The paper asks why, unlike much of Europe, the UK has not adopted social pedagogy. It looks at the meanings of social pedagogy, including the importance of both ‘social’ and ‘pedagogy’ in understanding the term and argues that social pedagogy policy, practice and theory are interlinked and develop out of specific national contexts. There is an account of the fairly new UK interest in the subject, including some interest from government. The paper argues that this interest springs largely from concerns about the welfare of disadvantaged children, especially those that are in care, and an aspiration to improve the practice of people who work with them. There has been much less interest in social pedagogic theory. The paper concludes that unless theory, grounded in a UK context, is given equal prominence to practice, together with education and qualifications in the subject, social pedagogy will not achieve a firm footing in the UK.


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Author Biography

Pat Petrie

Pat Petrie is Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Education, University of London, where she heads the Centre for Understanding Social Pedagogy and researches social and educational policy and practice towards children in the UK and elsewhere. A strong theme has been about social pedagogy in continental Europe.





How to Cite

Petrie, P. (2013). Social Pedagogy in the UK: Gaining a firm foothold?. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 21, 37.