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IOE Blog


Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society


Early childhood education and care – taking a long view

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 7 September 2023

Small children sit around a table

Credit: Rodnae Productions.

Alison Clark, Claire Cameron and Peter Moss.

Political parties are preparing their offers on early childhood policies for the next election. While it’s encouraging to see consensus exists that early childhood education and care is a priority, the myopic and short-term approach shared by all parties – more and cheaper ‘childcare’ seems to be the common theme – is deeply disappointing. Tinkering with a dysfunctional system is preferred to taking the long view and transforming early childhood in England.

Taking the long view on early childhood is the subject of the next event in our programme marking the 50th anniversary of the Thomas Coram Research Unit.  Since 1973, TCRU has conducted ground-breaking national and international research on early childhood policy, provision and practice, research that has collectively presented a more ambitious path for the early years. (more…)

Exactly what is social care and how can we solve the crisis?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 7 July 2021

annawaldl / Pixabay

Claire Cameron, Peter Moss and Pat Petrie

Social care has been in crisis for years, now made even worse by the pandemic. All agree something must be done, many ‘urging the Government to act now’ – but we are still waiting. What can be done? The problem with ‘social care’ and a promising solution are the subjects of a new article we have published in the International Journal of Social Pedagogy.

In it, we argue that ‘working with people’ should become a rewarding, well qualified and properly funded enterprise, with a highly skilled workforce, and ask why Britain has taken such a different path from much of Europe.

The social care crisis is driven by several factors. ‘Social care’ covers a plethora of services for children and adults including elderly people with additional needs; working-age adults with mental and physical disabilities; and children and adolescents unable to live with their birth parents, assessed as ‘in need’ or subject to child protection (more…)

Young people in care: how lockdown provides a haven of security and belonging

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 27 May 2020

Claire Cameron.

Amidst all the gloom, and concerns about what effect the lockdown is having on children, there is a small group of young people finding positive benefits.

Children in foster care were thriving under lockdown, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services told the House of Commons education select committee. In residential care homes, where about ten percent of young people looked after by local authorities live, the national restrictions have created opportunities for them to take up new skills, get fit and get along better with those around them.

Staff at Care Visions, Scotland’s largest independent provider of residential services for children and young people who have complex needs, say young people are less distressed than before lockdown, and fewer are running away. Danny Henderson, one of Care Visions’ managers, says that many young people seem happier than they were before the measures were (more…)

Supporting young people in care: teaching the next generation of professionals ways to think creatively at the point of crisis

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 15 February 2018

Claire Cameron. 
Driving through a wood, late at night, a streetwise 17-year-old becomes panicky as her mobile signal dies. John, her foster carer, knows she is entering her panic zone, turns the car around and sees the girl’s face relax as signs of more familiar urban environment reappear and she returns to her comfort zone. ‘Knowing that once she was in a panic zone and there was no longer any learning for her, was down to my learning on the social pedagogy diploma course I did’, he says.
Social pedagogy combines a holistic approach to care and education practice and utilises theories from psychology, education, sociology and anthropology to create a unique, empathic, democratically oriented relationship-based profession. John was a learner on the Crossfields Institute Diploma in Social Pedagogy, which was developed in collaboration with the Scaling Up Social Pedagogy project based at the IOE’s Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU).
The Diploma focuses on applying theories in practice with a high degree of critical (more…)

Social pedagogy: the approach that intertwines well-being and learning

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 28 February 2017

Claire Cameron
Young people growing up in care get some of the best GCSE results of anywhere in England if they are looked after in the London Borough of Hackney. This is a remarkable turnaround for what was once a ‘troubled’ borough, which remains one of the most economically deprived places in the country.
One important element in Hackney and its young people’s success is the Virtual School, run by headteacher Nick Corker. ‘Exam results are important,’ he says, ‘but they are not the only measure of success for young people.’ Just as significant are experiences such as expeditions to new places and regular poetry workshops. The strategy in Hackney Virtual School is to invest in good, purposeful and meaningful relationships, imaginative solutions, and Social Pedagogues. Social Pedagogy is an emerging field in the UK but well established in continental Europe, where theory and practice are concerned with finding solutions to social problems through an educational lens.
A new Social Pedagogy Professional Association (SPPA), (more…)

Looked after children: how can teachers help them achieve and thrive?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 31 October 2014

Claire Cameron
“What did you do at the weekend?” It seems like an innocuous question to ask pupils at the start of the school week. But for children in the care system it can raise a whole range of uncomfortable feelings. One child, filmed as part of a teaching resource based on real life,  gave the same answer to this harmless question every week: “I went to the zoo and saw lions and tigers.” Finally, one Monday, another child declared: “I went to the zoo this weekend and there were no lions and tigers.”
What do teachers do if they realise that their well-meaning approach, intended to be warm and inclusive, is just not working for some of the most vulnerable (more…)