Social Pedagogy in Schools as a Promoter of Civic Engagement

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This paper draws upon multidisciplinary research in Europe, particularly at the interface between education, psychology and social work, to explore the extent to which the adoption of a social pedagogic approach in schools can provide a basis for promoting civic engagement. This paper focuses on the use of a social pedagogic approach to addressing the needs of pupils in secondary schools whose circumstances are identified as giving a cause for concern. Such concerns cover a range of problem areas, which includes poor attainment, disaffection, an unhealthy life style, child abuse (as the abuser or victim), bullying (as the bully or victim), physical and mental health problems, poor career aspirations and prospects, anti-social behaviour and criminal activity. The essence of social pedagogy lies in the empowerment of the pupil, through their relationship with a social pedagogue, in addressing the problem they are experiencing. Such empowerment can lead to civic engagement by the pupil in the short term (as a pupil) and in the long term (as a young adult and beyond) and by the social pedagogue in bringing about changes in policy and organisational structures that appear to contribute to the problem arising and/or making the problem difficult to solve. In some cases the pupil and social pedagogue may act together to argue for such changes to be made in their local community or beyond, and in some cases a group of pupils will act together to advocate change. The paper also draws, more specifically, on the emerging findings of an on-going research project looking at student teachers’ views concerning the adoption of a social pedagogic approach within schools in England, Norway, Switzerland and Greece, to highlight the implications of this approach for the civic engagement of teenagers and young adults.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 12 May 2011


  • social pedagogy
  • civic engagement

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