BA (Hons) Children, young people and families (relational practice)

This innovative, new programme explores the processes and thinking involved in animating and facilitating learning and change with children, young people, adults, and communities.

With a focus on holistic, relational and multi-disciplinary practice, our programme offers UK-wide professional experience combined with academic study. Our degree programmes are offered in partnership with Coventry University.



Our degree consists of eighteen modules, studied over three years. On the programme you work in different settings (including specialist agencies, and community-based groups and organizations), have your own individual supervisor, and study a range of academic disciplines.

If you are interested in learning and change in their broadest senses, want to develop professionally, and are keen to mix rigorous study with reflective practice, this programme may be the one for you.

The ways of thinking and acting involved are highly transferable to a wide range of careers − but have special relevance for those supporting learning and development in social work agencies, schools and colleges, residential settings, and in community-based organizations.

YMCA George Williams College is a specialist centre for the study of work with children, young people, families, and communities. It offers a range of programmes and short courses that are unique in the UK.

Picture: Two meadows paintings by Ellie Lyons – Ecological Society of America. Sourced from Flickr and reproduced under a CCby2 licence.


Course code: awaiting new course code Starting: November 2017, January 2018 and September 2018
Study options: 3 years blended learning Fees: £6500 pa
Location: UK-wide Faculty: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences


Course information

The aim of the programme, informed by the College’s value base and commitment to social justice, is to produce reflective, professional practitioners. With a strong emphasis on the integration of theory and practice, the programme aims to:

Cultivate relational practice that is informed, just, and open.

Encourage participants to explore a range of theories, beliefs and practices reflective of the diverse social, cultural, religious and individual nature of the student group, and the situations in which people work

Develop and enhance personal, interpersonal, practical and intellectual abilities

Foster a continuing enthusiasm for, and a commitment to, lifelong learning and development.

Ethos and process

We try to work in ways that are respectful and encourage conversation and exploration. Also, we look to create an environment where people can take responsibility for their own learning and development.

The programme has been built around exploring and valuing participants’ experiences and those of others. As a result, we place a special emphasis upon reflecting, learning, and making changes one-to-one (with a professional supervisor), in groups and on your own (for example through working on assignments).

Children, young people, families, and communities

At the heart of our programmes is a commitment to the happiness and well-being of people across the life course. We ask people to explore the experiences of individuals, and the networks, groups and communities they are a part of. We place a special emphasis on work with children and young people (and their families), and upon relational practice.

Social pedagogy and relational practice

Often more holistic and group-oriented than dominant forms of social work and schooling, there is a strong tradition of social pedagogy in a number of European countries. It is often used to describe the activities of workers concerned with group living, community development, play, specialist education, and children and young people. Combining a concern for the well-being of individuals, groups, and communities, social pedagogy puts relationship at the core. It looks to foster relationship and work through relationship.

Youth work and community learning and development have been the two of the main fields of work in which these ways of working have found a home over the last 150 years in the UK. In recent years there has been a growing interest in such relational practice within specialist education, health, and residential care settings.


Year one Year two Year three
Pedagogy, learning and development Helping and counselling skills Leadership and management
Human growth and development Teaching and group work Professional judgement and ethics
Understanding the social context Working with systems and networks Critical theory
Evaluating practice Children, young people and families – policies and legislation Individual study
Reflection on professional practice (double module) Relational practice (double module) Relational practice (double module)

First day of the spring break Eastside youth project 049′ by George Wesley & Bonita Dannells. Sourced from Flickr and reproduced under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence.

The first day of the spring break, Eastside youth project 049′ by George Wesley & Bonita Dannells. Sourced from Flickr and reproduced under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence.

Why choose this course?

Innovative and relevant: Involved in facilitating flexible and relational study for many years, we are focused on students’ experiences and the changing needs of the fields they want to work in.

Based in practice: We are a small, not-for-profit college with a clear focus on practice and a commitment to social justice. We put practice at the heart of what we do and build academic study around it.

Professionally orientated: the programme has been mapped against the requirements for professional qualification set by the new Social Pedagogy Professional Association in the UK.

Flexible: with blended learning you can do most of your study from home or locally. You can build your studies around your life. Learning materials are available in different formats – print, screen, smartphone and kindle. You can use local university libraries. There are set activities like residentials, study days and assignments.


Courses designed to launch and build your career. With professional validation, a focus on practice, and an emphasis on self-directed learning and management, this programme gives you a great platform for career development.

Academic qualifications awarded by Coventry University. Ranked 12th best University in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2018, Coventry University were also awarded Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2017.

Fees kept low. We believe in making good quality higher education more accessible to everyone.

You work on one academic module at a time. This means you can specialize in each subject without the distraction and multiple deadlines.

Study themes

Our main study themes are:

Reflective and relational practice: our programmes are built around reflective and relational practice. We explore the nature of relational practice – and how it can be deepened.

Children, young people and families: explore and enhance your understanding of feelings, experiences and processes of childhood, youth and adulthood, and of family life. Deepen and extend your practice.

Human growth and development: explore how human beings grow and change over their lives – emotionally, psychologically and intellectually – and some of the key implications for your practice

Understanding the social context: develop your awareness of the social context in which growth and development take place and some of the key things that get in the way of the well-being of individuals, families and communities.

Pedagogy, learning and development: the knowledge, skills and attitudes you need to develop to facilitate learning and change, and your relational and pedagogic practice across diverse contexts.

Helping and counselling skills: explore the process of working with individual children,  young people, and adults. Draw on understandings and skills from other areas of work such as counselling, and placing them within the practice and value framework of pedagogy, youth work and informal and community education.

Teaching and group work: deepen your understanding of, and practice with, the processes of facilitating learning in groups and classrooms.

Working with networks and systems: develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to appreciate the nature and significance of social networks, work with them, and build connected communities. Draw on system theories to deepen and extend your work with families.

Management and leadership: build the knowledge, skills, and attitudes you need to become effective managers and leaders whose practice is informed by the ideas, theories and values explored in other parts of the programme.

Professional judgement and ethics: the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enable you to develop a critical and practical understanding of ethical judgements in a professional context.

Evaluation, critical reflection and research: develop your capacity to evaluate, reflect critically and research practice.

How you will be taught

This course is studied full-time over three years.

You will be assigned a personal tutor who will review and discuss your progress with you; will be available for advice; and will facilitate study days.

Students often are already working in a relevant practice setting – and the bulk of their professional practice can usually be undertaken there. You will also be assigned a practice supervisor (employed by us and having no managerial responsibility for you) to help you reflect on, and develop, your practice.

On-line learning resources can accessed and used at any time and are available through our virtual learning environment: They have been designed for print, screen, smartphone, and kindle.

Study days and residentials include talks, workshops, group work, student presentations, skills development, guest speakers, one-to-ones and group supervision.

How you will be assessed

The learning outcomes of modules, assignments, projects, and assessments will be clearly stated. Your work will be marked according to how well you achieve these learning outcomes and your feedback will refer the outcomes, For academic work, there will be an overall percentage grade.

Assessment methods vary and can include, for example, assignments, projects, self-assessment, written practical reports, project thesis, oral presentations and tutorial tasks and activities.

Outcomes related to professional practice are either met or not met. There is no percentage grading.

An estimated percentage breakdown of your final academic grade assessment is as follows:

Formal examinations 5%

Coursework  95%

Teaching contact hours

This blended learning programme means you study when it is convenient to you. You can access activities, resources and materials any time of the day or night, 7 days a week from our virtual learning environment –

In any one academic year, you can expect the following approximate breakdown of teaching hours

Professional supervision: 8 hours

Study days and tutorials: 44 hours

Residential:  22 hours

Guided activity:

Face-to-face practice: 180 hours

International experience opportunities

The College is part of a worldwide movement that works in 119 countries reaching over 58 million people. In addition, the College has been active within the Commonwealth Youth Programme. A number of students have been able to take advantage of these networks to explore practice in different parts of the globe.

Entry requirements

The College is looking for people who possess certain knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Applicants must be able to demonstrate:

experience in the field of youth and community learning and development, education and learning, social pedagogy, playwork, social work or a related area;

the ability to reflect critically upon their experience and learn from it;

the capacity to participate in the learning processes of the programme;

the ability to work constructively with the experiences of others;

an informed commitment to work for equal opportunities and justice for all;

the ability to manage different aspects of their lives;

the ability to communicate with others both face-to-face and in writing.

These requirements are assessed via applicants’ application documents and interview.

For entry to Level 1 of the Honours degree programmes, the College is looking for the above qualities to be displayed at a particular level of ability.  The benchmark used by the College is that for entry to the programme people must have a prior qualification, or knowledge and skills equivalent to passes in two subjects at Advanced level or NVQ Level 3 or equivalent.

Applicants over 21 do not need to have passed such examinations to get on the programmes – but they must show that they are thinking and practicing at least at that level.

Practice Requirements: Applicants must also be able to demonstrate the appropriate level of practice as well as a positive disposition towards the core aspects of professionalism required for youth work, social pedagogy and community learning and development. If students have not qualified at NVQ Level 3 standards as above, they will normally be expected to have experience in the field for at least two years. They must show that their practice is safe and that they are reliable. They must be able to: work on their own initiative; carry out routine procedures; respond appropriately to situations as they are occurring; plan ahead; describe their abilities and provide examples as evidence for their statements.

Fees and funding

For the academic year 2017/18, the fee is £6500.


As a full-time student or part-time student resident in the UK or EU, you can apply for a loan to cover the cost of your tuition fees from Student Finance England.


A significant number of people on our programmes work, or go on to work in social work settings including specialist support work, working with children and young people, group living, and youth justice. They also can be found in schools and colleges. Here they operate in different areas including specialist education, community development, inclusion, learning support, extra- and extended curricula activity, pastoral and careers support, personal, social and health education, citizenship education, and whole school development. Many work in community-based settings including churches and faith organizations, children’s centres and youth organizations, homes and hostels. They also work in the public sector (including health services) and in commercial organizations.

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