General, HP, News, Protecting vulnerable children, Surrey County Council, Young people

Surrey foster carers first in country to gain new qualification

Eight Surrey foster carers along with four care and family support workers have become the first in the country to gain a new qualification aimed at helping vulnerable children reach their potential.

The group achieved the award after studying an approach to caring that is already well-regarded in other countries for helping children overcome troubled backgrounds and is now increasingly recognised in Britain.

Nine of the diploma graduates are pictured after receiving their certificates at a ceremony in Woking

They gained a level three diploma in Social Pedagogy, which focuses on developing the whole child, including their education and life skills, to help them thrive in care.

Its ethos is that all children have potential and can make a contribution to their communities if their strengths are recognised and nurtured. The approach is based around carers building strong relationships with children, for example through activities such as art, music, sport or outdoor pursuits. Children are encouraged to build relationships with all important people in their lives.

A diploma graduate outlines the benefits of the course

Julie, one of the foster carers to achieve the diploma, said: “I’m much more confident and feel more able to challenge procedures and policies so that children in my care have a more natural experience of childhood. It’s a shift away from being risk averse towards managing risks and supporting children to manage risks. I’m also more confident to speak up for children and advocate for them.”

Eight Surrey foster carers, two residential care workers and two family support workers were awarded the qualification – the first group in the country to graduate. The new course is one of the ways the county council is working to ensure the social pedagogy approach is used widely in Surrey to support children in care.

Clare Curran, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, said: “I’d like to congratulate these foster carers, residential care workers and family support workers who have the special distinction of being the first in the country to achieve this award.

“We’re already seeing the huge difference this ‘whole child’ approach can make so I’m pleased that courses like this are helping us learn more about it. We’re all working hard to improve the support we give to vulnerable children and this is one of the ways we’ll ensure it’s as good as it can possibly be.”

The level three diploma, which is similar in level to an A-level, was awarded by the Crossfields Institute, with training delivered by development and recruitment agency Jacaranda. The qualification is regulated by Ofqual.

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