News Views

News Views

Including the recognition of social education/ pedagogy as a profession, allergies, children’s savings, attainments and the school year, choice of school, Raissa Page, and interprofessional co-operation

A European Profession?

AIEJI (the International Association of Social Educators – or pedagogues) has proposed to the European Union that the profession should be recognised across the EU. This idea has been mooted before, but to date has been unsuccessful, partly because of the different approaches taken to the training, qualifications and deployment of social pedagogues / educators. Until recently, of course, there were virtually none in the UK.

We support their bid. Recognition of this sort would help job mobility and improve the standing of the profession. To read AIEJI’s document in full, see

International Day of Social Educators

This is another of AIEJI’s ideas. On Sunday 2 October it is International Day of Social Educators. Like last year, they want to celebrate and highlight this day by sending postcards to colleagues, friends, politicians and other relevant people.   How about every children’s home and centre sending their MP a card to celebrate the day? A harmless way of reminding them of an important public service which usually goes unnoticed unless there is a problem.


We are sent all sorts of press releases announcing the outcomes of surveys. Usually they are a dressed up form of advertising, and usually the outcomes are fairly predictable. However, common sense predictability can be true of scrupulous academic inquiries too, and sometimes the outcomes are of interest or indicate real concerns, so here are a few more.

1 Allergies

Nut allergies are on the rise, with up to one in 50 children in the UK allergic to peanuts, the most common serious allergy. Reactions can range from mild itching and rashes to life-threatening breathing problems which kill an average of seven young people a year. The most common food triggers for students are nuts and peanuts but dairy products such as milk and eggs, fish and shellfish and fruit can also be a trigger.   Students with potentially deadly allergies are putting themselves in danger by failing to carry their EpiPens, life-saving adrenaline injectors. Among the reasons why students do not always carry their EpiPens is because they are not deemed to ‘be cool’. Moira Austin of the Anaphylaxis Campaign says, “Studies show that teenagers and young people with allergies are at a greater risk of anaphylaxis shock because they are living away from home often for the first time. They are more likely to take risks and are also, perhaps for hormonal reasons, more prone to severe reactions. Where there are fatalities, they tend to be in the teens or early 20s – they are a high risk category. “It’s easier for a girl to carry her adrenaline device with her as she can tuck it discreetly in her handbag. But teenage boys don’t want to carry a bulky auto-injector in their jeans pocket or on a belt carrier. It’s just not cool. As a result, boys of that age often leave their injectors at home. But it is vital that they keep one with them at all times.”

2 Children’s Savings

Onepoll did a survey of 3,000 parents for the Co-operative Bank, and found that 36% were not saving for their children, and fewer than one in seven was saving more than £50 per month. 52% were keeping the bank accounts secret, and 42% were not intending to let their children know about them until they were nineteen, and the main motivation for 52% was to help with the costs of education, others wanting to help their children get on the property ladder or buy a car.   The current financial situation had reduced levels of saving, but we doubt whether this will remain true We suspect that the “Spend, spend, spend” motto of the pre-recession decades may evolve into a somewhat more cautious and frugal approach.

3 Attainments

Explore Learning report that Department for Education statistics show that children born in August lose out at exam time, compared with those born in other months. About half of all children born in August fail to achieve five good GCSE passes with key subjects such as maths and English compared to their peers born 11 months earlier at the beginning of the academic year. According to the Department of Education 57% of children born in August fail to make the grade for maths and 52% for English, which is significantly worse than children born in September where only 30% are failing maths and 29% not passing English.   If this problem is simply arithmetical – that children born in August are nearly a year younger and less developed than those born the previous September – why can’t schools have a more continuous flow, with intakes and discharges every term or half-term? James Wetz’s book (reviewed this month) comments on the problems caused for many children by the transfer to secondary school. These major changes are big turning-points for children, and they need additional help and support in coping. If smaller numbers were to change more frequently there would be more opportunity to focus on their individual needs.   Of course, if you think that people born in August are just a lot of dimbos, you need not do anything to give them a better chance.

4 Choice of School

Family Lives have surveyed parents choosing schools for their children. While test and exam results (87%) came out as somewhat or very important, parents consider many other local and impressionistic factors. 97% of parents said that their impression of the quality of teaching was important, followed by general reputation in the local community (94%), proximity (91%) and other factors such as their impression of the children currently at the school (91%) and their impression of the open evening (88%).   Despite only half of all parents (51%) feeling very confident during the selection process that they would successfully secure their first choice of school, in reality nearly all parents (91%) reported that their child did indeed gain a place at their preferred school. We suspect that the pessimism shown by parents about the selection process will be down to the media, who will focus on the unsuccessful 9% and give the impression that the whole system is incompetently managed. We think that 91% is not too bad.

Did You See?…..

The obituary in the Guardian on 21 September 2011 about Raissa Page. Appropriately they gave her a good half-page spread, including Raissa’s iconic picture of the women dancing on top of the silos at Greenham Common. They mentioned her contribution to child care, but we hope to give fuller recognition of Raissa’s work in this field in a future issue.

Boundaries and Barriers

Jim Hyland writes this month of the split in the Approved School service between the better paid teachers and the worse paid house wardens, and how efforts were made to overcome this division. Professionals wish to set standards (which is good), including qualified workers and excluding untrained workers (which is good), defining their professional tasks and roles (which is good) and trying to exclude non-professionals from them (which is also good).   The problem is that this creates a lot of silos from which the different professions snipe at each other, especially their neighbours. Doctors do this, but nurses do that. Teachers do this and care workers do that. It takes a lot of organisational effort to create a united team in which the boundaries are blurred, without, of course, compromising standards.   We recall some research in which relations between teachers, psychologists and social pedagogues were observed. The three professions were meant to collaborate for the good of children in residential schools, but it emerged that most of their creative energy was spent on in-fighting. The teachers and pedagogues ganged up on the psychologists, saying that the psychologists spent very little time with the children and did not really know them. The psychologists and teachers ganged up on the pedagogues as not being a true profession. And the psychologists and the pedagogues ganged up on the teachers, saying that they only saw the children in the formal classroom setting, and did not know what they were really like.   Of course, it’s not like that now…..

Seasonal Matters

As this issue is being produced we are having something of a heatwave and drought, causing some plants to bloom a second time and others to shrivel. Our email intray is also confusing about the seasons. It was July when we were first invited to a Christmas Fayre, advertising the toys and games that were predicted to be all the rage in December. Now we’ve had a list of Christmas presents for children that will not break the bank – “all under £50”, which will no doubt please all the redundant parents who are wondering how to cope. And we’ve has loads of emails about Hallowe’en, which we propose to ignore, as we find the event rather spooky and do not wish to ecourage tricking and treating.

From the Case Files

… all I would like is a bit off help from the social services trying to get me a house just in case I am looking of custard off the children like I said before… The custard to go with the baby’s leg?

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