Until the end of the last century, in England local and national policy was mostly based on clear boundaries between the fields of education, childcare and social care. These divisions were apparent at many levels: conceptual, professional, organisational, and in relation to training and education. However, over the last decade there has been an administrative reorganisation of responsibility for children's services and a shift in how we envisage provision for children and young people. The following are all of relevance for the subject of social pedagogy:
• Responsibility for childcare (for working parents) and social care (for children in need including those in need of protection) has moved from the Department of Health to what is now the Department for Children, Schools and Families, with:
• responsibility for early years education and childcare, out-of-school care, child
protection and schooling;
• a Children's Workforce Unit and a School's Workforce Unit;
• structural links to other government departments.
• Integrated structures such as Children's Trusts, and local authority Children's
Departments, and comprehensive provision - Children's Centres and extended
services delivered through schools - have been introduced.
• Parenting and family support has a central role, across government departments. For
example, Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003) and the Children's Plan (DCSF, 2008),
have emphasised what is called progressive universalism: ‘support for all, with more
support for those who need it most' (Balls, 2007). Within this conceptual approach,
there is a need for child welfare, childcare, parenting and family support, education and
health services to work more closely together. The approach also requires the different
occupations involved to be more interconnected, with a core training for workers
across the children and young people's sector.
This is a time when the borders and relations between different types of services are changing, workforce issues are to the fore, and there is a desire to find new approaches. Not least, children are being seen as persons in their own right, rather than as ‘problems' to be managed. With these changing directions comes the opportunity to seek fresh options and to identify the best possibilities for realising government's intentions. One model for work in the children's sector is that of pedagogy, with workers, whatever their job titles, seen primarily as pedagogues.