SEAL: The big experiment

Jean Gross explores whether social and emotional learning programmes can be implemented on a national scale

RECENT VISITORS to St George’s Primary School in Bristol would have seen children learning to take another’s perspective by discussing the classic Three Little Pigs story written from the wolf’s point of view. They would have watched children in another class work in fours then complete a checklist to evaluate their groupwork skills. They would also have seen an assembly in which one class performed a dance showing what anger looks like, described the things that made them angry and demonstrated relaxation techniques that helped them calm down.

What we know
● SEAL is a comprehensive approach to promoting social and emotional skills.
● It was devised in England, drawing on international evidence of what works in SEL programmes.
● Evaluation has shown a major impact on teacher-reported children’s well being, confidence, communication skills and relationships.
● ‘Gold standard’ evidence in the form of randomised controlled trials is not yet available.

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February 2010