Introducing an MA Degree Course in Residential Care and Boarding Education at York St John University

A Unique Course

Although the UK is well-known for the variety of its residential education and care provision and has a long tradition of boarding, the only degree awards available to practitioners, other than the MA at York St John, are at the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care and are focused upon Scotland. This situation has not always obtained and in the 1970s and 1980s there were flourishing schools of residential education training at the universities of Bristol and Newcastle. In the 1970s, there were also specialised PGCE courses at Durham and Newcastle Universities.

Given that there are some 145,000 children and young people in residence, half of them in boarding, and that there are nineteen recognised sectors of residential and boarding education and care, it is strange that only one university in England and Wales, York St John, is committed to the field. Having previously tried to establish a course at several older and a few universities, the reason for the lack of interest appears to be the absence of staff with experience or enthusiasm for the subject.

Other than the York St John MA course, the awards currently available comprise: for the entire field of residential education and care, National Vocational Qualifications up to the Managers in Residential Child Care Award and, specifically for boarding, two professional certificates at Roehampton University.

York St John University specialises in education and care training. The University offers an MA (Residential Education) or MA (Boarding) within its Educational Improvement Development and Change Masters’ Degree programme. This is the only MA degree of its kind in England and Wales.

The Programme

The programme comprises four modules: two core and two specialist modules. The core modules are:

(i) Introduction to Practitioner Enquiry and

(ii) Planning a Practitioner Research Project.

The specialist modules are:

(i) Holistic Approaches to Education and Wellbeing in Residential Environments and

(ii) Skills of the Social Pedagogue.

For the core modules, the Enquiry and Research normally take place within the student’s own place of work. The specialist modules can be focused towards a particular sector (eg boarding or custodial care) depending upon the settings of the students. The fifth element in the degree is a dissertation, again normally based in the student’s place of work.

The first specialist module provides an introduction to the full range of boarding and residential settings for young people. Using examples from all of these, the varying social, physical and external characteristics of the residential environment are analysed and the main issues are identified. Students will be able to consider different approaches to common issues and to examine the potential for the transfer of good practice among settings. For their research and practice, students will, therefore, be able to draw upon a wider range of approaches than those found within their own setting.

The second specialist module focuses upon the role of the social pedagogue, as expressed in Every Child Matters (2003) and observed in much of continental Europe, and covers principally education, health and social care, the main concerns in boarding and residential education and care. In the light of their consideration of the residential environment, students will identify and develop the skills of the social pedagogue required to address the issues which commonly arise in the different settings. As a result, for their research and practice, students will be able to incorporate a variety of approaches to the role of the social pedagogue.

The course is by distance learning with a requirement for four long weekends (two in each of the two years of the course) at the University. Between the visits to York, there is tutorial support, each student having a personal tutor.

The tutor in charge of the MA Residential Education Care / Boarding course is Professor Ewan Anderson. He has practical experience throughout the system, having run his own boarding house and worked at some stage for short periods in most of the other residential settings for young people. He has produced three books on the subject and holds a doctorate in residential/boarding education.

Interested? – the Practical Details

On completion of Year 1 {Core Module (i) and Specialist Module (i)}, the student can be awarded a Certificate. Completion of Year 2 {Core Module (ii) and Specialist Module (ii)}, the student can be awarded a Diploma. With the production of the dissertation there is the full award of the MA. The course is scheduled to be completed in about 2 years and the cost for the complete programme, for 2009/10, £1,840.

This is an ideal opportunity for staff involved with residential education/care or boarding to further their practice and receive a specialist MA degree. The course is taught by experienced practitioners and will facilitate discussions with colleagues in other sectors of residential education and care for children and young people.

The dates for 2009/10 are:

Core Module 1: Friday 23 (5.00-7.00pm), Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 October 2009.

Specialist Module 1: Friday 12 (5.00-7.00pm), Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February 2010.

To view the course in detail:

For further information, application forms etc:

Continuing Professional Development Administration, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, York YO31 7EX Tel: 01904 876 946 Email: [email protected]

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