Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260-276)|
12 MAY 2008
Q260 Paul Holmes: What wage levels
are we talking about generally for people who work in residential
David Crimmens: As soon as you
start talking about upskilling part of the workforce, there is
an inexorable assumption that that is connected to the material
reward. The existing pay scales for many people in residential
care are probably comparable across the public sector, so we may
already be paying our residential workersI might get shot
down in flames for saying this in publicin a way that is
comparable to the rest of the public sector. The question is:
what incentives can we offer residential workers in this respect?
Earlier, someoneI cannot remember whether they were from
the previous panel of witnesses or the Committeetalked
about a hunger for learning. Residential workers want to do a
better job with their young people, and we need to give them the
wherewithal to do that. Inevitably, if there is a bit of an upswirl,
you can flatten the structure because there is not such a need
for direct managerial control. It was common in the voluntary
sector at one point in children's residential care to have just
three levels. If you look at it in the local authority, it tends
to be five, so you could make savings and reinvest the money in
generally upskilling certain parts of the residential workforce.
Q261 Paul Holmes: None the less,
can you cite a figure? If 56% of people in the past year were
qualified at NVQ3 and the rest were below that, what sort of wages
would someone below NVQ3 earn?
Jane Haywood: We must write to
you about that to be sure of being accurate. Folk working in residential
care would say that they are poorly paid. If you are a foster
carer, often you get only an allowance and still not a wage. If
you are in the early years sector, you often get the minimum wage.
However, we can write to you with information on pay scales.
Q262 Paul Holmes: But you think that
with regard to any enhanced pay that would be needed, the situation
is a bit like that with social work practices: you can just sweep
out the layers of management and that will pay for it?
David Crimmens: One of the things
that came from a recent piece of research that we did about using
social pedagogues in residential child care was that the pedagogues,
particularly from Denmark, were appalled by how manager-dependent
many of the residential workers were. In some ways, manager dependence
is based on the mystique around regulation and the idea that there
is a proper and correct way to do things. The assumption is that
if we increased the education available to people, they would
become more capable of making judgments without necessarily having
to relate directly to a manager, so they would become more autonomous
in their work, both with one another and with the children and
young people they were looking after. That is the reason for increasing
professional education and training. The qualification per se
is about the relative status of residential workers vis-a"-vis
people such as social workers and teachers when it comes to decision
making about individual children. That is the key issue.
Chairman: I think that we are getting
to the heart of this.
Q263 Mr Chaytor: My first question
is to Jane. There is not a single reference to social pedagogues
in your submission to the Committee, so they cannot be that important,
Jane Haywood: I am trying to tread
a line that involves moving us gradually along a path. From what
Pat said, I think that the social pedagogue role is so strange
to many people in this country that it is quite scary. When the
first children's workforce strategy was published, it talked about
a social pedagogue, and when the consultation came back, there
was no appetite for that. In our mind, the first step is to get
some clarity about a minimum Level 3 qualification and graduate-led.
The second step is to look at a career framework for those working
in residential and foster care. Again, that is the programme of
work this year. In developing that framework, we will start to
feed into it the principles of being a social pedagogue. Sometimes
you just do change in a different way.
Q264 Mr Chaytor: What is the difference
between a social pedagogue and a youth worker?
Professor Petrie: Well, "youth
worker" is quite a wide term, is it not?
Mr Chaytor: So is "social pedagogue",
Professor Petrie: Social pedagogues
are much more likely to be working with groups than some youth
workers, as they are developing at the moment. They will also
work with the same group over a long periodday in, day
Q265 Mr Chaytor: I would have thought
that that was a large part of what your typical youth worker did.
They are not hanging around on street corners trying to pick up
individual young people, are they? They are dealing with groups
of young people.
Professor Petrie: I hear that
that is happening less and less with qualified youth workers.
Q266 Mr Chaytor: But in terms of
their skills, what should a social pedagogue have that a qualified
youth worker does not have?
Professor Petrie: I think they
are very similar.
Q267 Mr Chaytor: Why do we not just
call them youth workers?
Professor Petrie: You could.
David Crimmens: I would have to
disagree there. Apart from anything else, social pedagogues are
not trained just to be children's workers; they will work with
people with mental health difficulties, elder people and people
with dementia, both in the community and in different group care
contextsthat is what embraces the whole body of social
pedagogy. The other thing, which was obvious from the evidence
given to the Children's Workforce Development Council, particularly
by youth workers, is that youth workers saw themselves as exclusively
concerned with youth in a particular social contextinformal
social education would be the broad term. Social pedagogues have
a broader skills and theoretical base, and more of a commitment
to working with children holistically. In my experience, most
youth workers would not work with families. A social pedagogue
would very much work with families as part of the child system
and the child support network. So, there is a wider focus to the
lens, although both groups have much of their thinking and many
of their skills in common.
Professor Petrie: I should not
have said yes so quickly about the youth worker. I agree with
Dave. However, there is the issue of support for families and
the particular role played in the local community, as well as
in residential care. In France, what we would think of as a children's
services team could typically be made up of 10 éducateurs,
or pedagogues, plus a couple of social workers, a psychologist
or two and a team leader. Such people work with children in difficult
circumstances and with their families. They support children over
the threshold into care and beyond, helping them to keep in contact
with their families. They may prevent children from being taken
into care using all sorts of practical measures; indeed, that
is a key word in relation to social pedagoguesthey are
practical people. They would support the child's attendance at
school if the parents did not seem able to do that.
Chairman: You are worrying some of us,
because you had us all on board on the social pedagogue stuff,
although some of us think that it would have to be rebranded with
a different nameI think Graham mentioned thisjust
in case Douglas got hold of it. You enthused us about this pedagogy
training, which is applicable to early years and residential care.
I would have thought that you would have come back and said that
it was also appropriate for youth leadership. You do your basic
course in social pedagogy, which is appropriate for any age, to
build the sort of stuff I saw in Denmark, and then you specialise.
The base could be the same, could it not? The course could have
a common base.
Q268 Mr Heppell: I am getting a little
worried. It seems to me that social pedagogues can effectively
deal with everythingtheir role is wide-ranging. Then I
start to wonder what defines what they do. How would I write a
job description for a social pedagogue? Then I start to think
that if their role is that wide and their training can be applied
in almost every situation, is this not some sort of bottomless
pit? I have dealt with social services in the past and I remember
thinking, "This is a bottomless pit. The more we put into
it, the more is going to be put into it." It seems that there
is no edge to this. If you had a social pedagogue, how would you
measure whether they were being successful or what they were doing?
I cannot see a good job description for this work.
Professor Petrie: People are employed
within the context of a specific occupation with a job description.
Their employers seek people who are qualified as pedagogues because
that sort of holistic education emphasises the relationship with
the young person or family as the most important tool of the work.
It emphasises teamwork and that supporting the family and the
young person's development is based on the relationship with the
pedagogue and their reflective practice. The principles that they
hold in common are what are called for in many work and occupational
Jane Haywood: We cannot import
a system from another country and say that it is what we will
have here. We have to think about our own setting and how all
the different professions that we have would respond. The principle
of a social pedagogue seems to be a good one, and their value
and status are good, but the next stage of the work is to look
at how it would work if it were introduced in this country. How
would it fit with the different specialist roles, and is it a
model to take forward? As I said before, many people in different
parts of the workforce are very worried about, and frightened
of, the introduction of the social pedagogue, so this has to be
a step by step process. Let us understand the role, its strengths
and what is involved. We need to find a way that we can go on,
but we cannot think that we can just import it. That would not
David Crimmens: That is an important
point, because what is happening in Denmark occurs within the
Danish contextwithin the kind of value system that families
and communities have, having been educated in a seminarium. But
each one of those settings, whether early years, residential care,
or work with older people, will have involved a job description
that defines what a social pedagogue must be capable of doing
within the specific setting. My experience of social pedagogues,
for example in Denmark, is that they often specialise in certain
practice placements. When they come out with their social pedagogical
diploma, they may have specialised in working with children in
group care settings, unless somebody suggested going to a day
nurserymen and womenperhaps for a couple of years,
to start developing skills in practice. Then they will take on
something that is seen as slightly more complex and difficult,
and they will move on to children's residential care, but they
will move into a job that has been defined by the organisation
that employs them. In the same way, if I were running a children's
home and looking for a member of staff, I would define a job and
then match up the kind of skills and competencies that somebody
would have to provide.
Q269 Mr Chaytor: Are there independent
social work practices in France or Denmark?
David Crimmens: No.
Q270 Mr Chaytor: To follow on, do
you think that independent social work practices should be required
to employ social pedagogues?
David Crimmens: In France, the
vast majority of social workers are employed by non-governmental
organisations, while in Denmark they are directly employed by
the state. You cannot directly compare how different professionals
are used. As to whether the kinds of tasks that are defined by
Julian le Grand's working group on social work practices could
be carried out equally capably by a social pedagogue in terms
of relationships with the child and family, I would say yes. Whether
a social pedagogue would have the skills and experience to manage
the systems would depend on the specific experiences that they
had had post qualifying.
Q271 Mr Chaytor: Can I get this right?
We have two sets of pilots at present. We have the social work
practice pilotsstarting next yearfollowed by the
social pedagogue pilots, for which tenders will be invited this
year as well. We have other pilots, of all different shapes and
sizes, that local authorities are involved in. So we have a range
of different pilots, including in particular the social pedagogue
and non-social pedagogue pilots. Regardless of what Professor
Le Grand said on his way out, the assumption seems to be that
the social work practice pilots will be extended almost as soon
as they have completed their two yearsthere will be no
time for a separate evaluation period. Where does that leave the
David Crimmens: The idea of a
pilot is to enable us as a society to test something out, without
necessarily making a long-term commitment until we have the evidence
for what works. That would seem to be what defines the pilot bit.
The tenders for the social pedagogue pilots close today. Hopefully,
those pilots will be up and running later this year and, hopefully,
the information on their implementation will start to come out
intoif you likethe professional community and political
arena within a reasonable time. I agree with the Chair that children
cannot wait for these things to be seen as successful or not.
Last year, we carried out a very small pilot looking at the use
of social pedagogues in a residential care contexta report
is available, which we can forward to the Committee, if you would
find it interesting. It was actually evaluated, so there is already
some evidence about the likely and potential difficulties of employing
social pedagogues in an English setting.
Q272 Chairman: It would be most useful
to receive that. We must bear in mind, of course, that the Minister
will be appearing here before this inquiry is finished. We will
ask him whether there will be time to assimilate these pilots
before they are rolled out. In a sense, I thought that there was
more equivocation in the previous professor's response.
Professor Petrie: I would like
to throw another piece of information into the pot, which is that
in the last couple of years, a recruitment agency in this country,
called Jacaranda, has placed 200 German social workers and/or
pedagogues. So pedagogues are currently employed in the English
social services system and in some residential care. I have personally
interviewed staff in homes to which pedagogues have been sent
as part of their training placements. They have not been afraid
of or worried about them, but have welcomed their input in fact.
Q273 Mr Chaytor: What are they called
Professor Petrie: I have no German.
I speak Dutch, but not Germanit is something like sozialpedagog,
Q274 Mr Chaytor: In practical, day
to day terms, what would you expect to see in a residential setting,
if social pedagogues were employed in the UK on the same scale
as they are in France, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands? What
is the tangible differencehappier children, higher levels
of educational attainment, or what?
Professor Petrie: That is what
we found in one of our studies. I do not know about attainment,
because it is very difficult to compare that across countries,
but certainly we found higher attendance at school. Pedagogues
who we interviewed had total confidence in their authority to
ensure that children went to school, whereas the care workers
who we interviewed in this country said, "Well, it is very
difficult to get them to school."
Q275 Mr Stuart: I have a quick question
on social work practicesI saw a grimace from David, so
I assume that he is a bit anti. Are they more likely to allow
innovation and thus enable a more rapid roll-out of pedagogy than
in monolithic local authority social services departments?
David Crimmens: One of the issues
is that when we start talking about the social pedagogue working
in English contexts, we are talking about bringing ideas into
the workforce as part of people's development so that they approach
their task in a pedagogical way. That relates to something that
has been missing from residential care for a long time and was
certainly, if we go back in history, part of the traditions of
English residential care: a cohesive philosophy and understanding
of what we are trying to do when we look after other people's
children in a residential context. What are we trying to achieve?
Social pedagogy would provide that kind of unifying framework,
irrespective of whether the home was managed by a local authority,
a voluntary sector organisation or a private organisation. The
question about social work practices is difficult. Initially it
seemed an attractive idea to me because it gave children in state
care someone who was uniquely theirs. It addressed all, or many,
of the issues that arose from the consultation on Care Matters.
The difficulty is that there was also quite a lot of exploration
of the role of the corporate parent in Care Matters. There
is at least a tension between the idea of the corporate parenting
responsibility resting with a local authority and the idea that
you have these independents operating outside that structure.
Mr Stuart: Is the idea not to get the
tension? When someone is the corporate parent and the supplier
of the corporate parent team, to date the record is not particularly
good and outcomes are pretty poor. International comparisons are
poor. At least if there are a number of these practices, poor
practice can be challenged and good practice can be encouraged.
Going back to an ancient conceptthe purchaser/provider
splitperhaps you are more likely to get improved accountability,
far from seeing it reduced.
Q276 Paul Holmes: I want to return
to something that Pat said. You talked in glowing terms about
continental success, for example, in relation to the youth worker
pedagogue feeling confident about getting the child to school.
But one of the first things we were told at the start of this
inquiry was that you cannot make comparisons like that because
relatively speaking we take so few children into care. Therefore,
they are inevitably the more difficult children who come from
more disturbed backgrounds. Whereas, in European countries they
take many more children into care so they are dealing with a more
amenable client group in a sense. Can you really make that comparison?
Professor Petrie: That is a good
point. In our work, we looked at that by using regression statisticscomparing
children who were taken into care at a more severe level with
those who were not. We found that in terms of outcomes, staff
characteristics made the difference in relation to things such
as juvenile offences and attendance in education. We thought that
it was about how well qualified the staff were. Pedagogy is education
in its broadest sense so the residential home is a place where
care and education in the broadest sense meet. It is not just
a place where children are safeguarded and taken for protection.
That is an important concept that pedagogy really has got a hold
on and we would do well to import it.
Chairman: I am afraid we have come to
the end of our time. Can I just say that it seems a wonderful
goal to have appropriately trained and qualified people in early
years and residential settings, and youth workers as classroom
assistants. It seems that you are constructing a rod for your
own back by calling it pedagogue and pedagogy. You have not convinced
John because since he heard the word pedagogy
Mr Heppell: I am convinced that something
is wrong with the role of social workers. That was what I was
saying. I was wondering whether that is because over time the
role has been directed at such a narrow area and has become less
effective than in the past.
Chairman: You have created a lot of interest
in the Committee and we thank you. As I said to the last group
of witnesses, which included Jane, could you stay in touch with
the Committee. We want to write a good report, and we need your
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