Will PATHS lead to the fourth “R”?

Birmingham, the UK’s largest local authority, has begun trials of a US-developed evidence-based social and emotional learning programme called PATHS. Michael Little and Cheryl Hopkins explain why

DEPENDING ON WHO IS SPEAKING about it and why, the demand that schools should deliver the three “Rs” may sound like either the worst platitude or a timely expression of educational principles. Either way, the attachment to “reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic” is likely to indicate strongly held ideological views, some of which will emerge afresh in the forthcoming UK general election.

What we know
● There are more than two dozen proven social and emotional curricula for schools.
● Properly implemented, they are associated with better academic performance, as well as with improvements in children’s social and emotional development.
● Consistent implementation is crucial to their success.
● Where they are used effectively they can reduce pressure on school and local authority budgets as well as directly benefiting children.

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February 2010