As one of the first organisations in the UK to pioneer social pedagogy within its residential service, Essex County Council began working together with ThemPra Social Pedagogy in September 2008. This article describes some of the ways in which social pedagogy influenced the culture and practice in the local authority’s children’s homes. In contrast to other evaluations, most notably Berridge and colleague’s (2011) evaluation of the English government’s social pedagogy pilot project, this paper draws on narrative material gathered over the 3-year project in order to provide insights into attitudinal changes amongst staff teams, to highlight how practitioners developed their understanding of social pedagogy and to offer examples of how teams improved their practice and culture throughout the project. By describing social pedagogic practice as an art form we aim to outline the holistic, dynamic and process-orientated nature of social pedagogy that distinguishes it from the procedurally driven, outcome-focussed practice which has been heralded by new managerialism ( Petrie et al., 2006; Smith, 2009). An abridged version of our full project report ( Eichsteller & Holthoff, 2012), the article focuses on four areas relating to the art of being a social pedagogue: Haltung, relationships, reflection, and culture.