Institute of Education


Centre for Understanding Social Pedagogy (CUSP)

Exploring approaches to social pedagogy in public policy and professional practice.

Head of centre: Claire Cameron

The Centre for Understanding Social Pedagogy (CUSP) arose from a programme of research and development conducted by CUSP members at the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU) since the late 1990s. Social pedagogy applies broadly educational solutions to social problems.

We conduct research and development activities and supervise doctoral students in relation to social pedagogy in the UK and in cross-national contexts.?

In April 2019, we completed a major philanthropic grant to develop the professional home of social pedagogy in the UK: the Social Pedagogy Professional Association (SPPA).

Our staff

Head of Centre


  • Professor Emeritus Pat Petrie, Professor of Education?
  • Professor Peter Moss, Professor of Early Childhood Provision


    Our research

    Cross-national studies

    We have conducted cross-national studies which highlighted the role of the social pedagogue in European countries in relation to children's residential care workforce, foster care, and children on the 'edge' of care.

    We found that the quality of life and outcomes for young people in public care in countries with a well-developed field of social pedagogy were much improved compared to that available in England.

    Knowledge exchange programmes

    We have completed pilot knowledge exchange programmes in foster care with young children. We worked with social pedagogy trainers Treehouse Associates to deliver training and development with foster carers, introducing the early childhood education practice of Treasure Baskets. We are continuing to develop this capacity building programme with the Fostering Network.?

    We are collaborating with the Centre for inclusive Education and social pedagogy trainers Treehouse Associates on a knowledge exchange project in primary and secondary schools about avoiding exclusion and promoting inclusion.

    Feasibility studies

    We have conducted feasibility studies in relation to social pedagogy in a UK context.

    Programme of development

    In 2019, we completed a programme of development introducing a professional association and qualifications in social pedagogy in the UK. For more information:?Social Pedagogy Professional Association

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    If you are looking for research, advice or knowledge transfer in social pedagogy, our staff are ready to offer you their expertise and skills.

    Our consultancies range from one day initiatives such as training or staff development, to longer term research and evaluation projects. We work directly with organisations such as health and local authorities or international institutions, and offer advice to others carrying out research and evaluation.?

    For further info contact Professor Claire Cameron at?c.cameron@ucl.ac.uk or on +44 (0)20 7612 6249


    International Journal of Social Pedagogy

    Briefing paper on Social Pedagogy

    Major texts

    • Working with Children in Care: European Perspectives (Pat Petrie, Janet Boddy, Claire Cameron, Valerie Wigfall and Antonia Simon, 2006, Open University Press)
    • Social Pedagogy and Working with Children and Young People: Where Care and Education Meet (edited by Claire Cameron and Peter Moss, 2011, Jessica Kingsley Publishing)

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