Social Pedagogy, Informal Education and Ethical Youth Work Practice

Thompson, Naomi and Slovenko, Karolina. 2015. Social Pedagogy, Informal Education and Ethical Youth Work Practice. Ethics and Social Welfare, 10(1), pp. 19-34. ISSN 1749-6535 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper questions current approaches to youth work practice and evaluation in England and suggests that current practices based on tick-box targets and outcomes compromise the core values of the profession. The targeting of certain groups of young people is an over-simplistic and stigmatising process that does not reflect what is meaningful about youth work. It also marks a step away from informal education, which has traditionally provided the theoretical underpinning to youth work in England. Youth work in England needs to develop a stronger evidence base as a process based on informal education to be given consideration by policy-makers and funders. In the second half of the paper, we introduce social pedagogy - a form of theory and practice developed in wider Europe - and outline its values and approach. We argue that this approach may fit with the values of informal education and that it may contribute to offering an evidence base for a values-centred alternative to the currently dominant articulations of youth work. We hope this paper stimulates further consideration of this approach among youth workers and their educators.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


6 October 2015Accepted
23 November 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

03 Mar 2017 11:42

Last Modified:

11 Jul 2017 09:56

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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