It is vital that we have a long-term strategy to support pupils in developing robust strategies and life-long key skills to draw on when times are tough. However, with the allocation of funding to support schools in delivering this agenda unlikely to appear any time soon and the already jam-packed curriculum schools are required to deliver, how are we supposed to juggle this latest addition to our workload?
A review of evidence by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF, 2021) has found a significant positive impact of focusing on developing Social and Emotional Learning on pupil attainment. Even more importantly, UK-based research indicates that development of key social and emotional skills at age ten are indicative of positive outcomes in adulthood, including personal well-being, job satisfaction and general health. However, those pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to have well-developed skills in this area, resulting in poorer outcomes for mental health and academic attainment. If the skills that we can impart as educators to our primary pupils will have such a far-reaching impact, then it is vital that we integrate them into our curriculum.
So, what is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) exactly? It involves developing a set of skills through which pupils can learn to manage their emotions and relate effectively to the emotions of others, develop positive relationships, achieve goals and make responsible choices. These skills can be grouped into five key areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2022).
The EEF recommend integrating SEL across your curriculum, filtering it into your everyday teaching for the greatest impact. In terms of your English curriculum, there are a number of ways we can achieve this, without adding to the already overflowing curriculum, and which might actually benefit pupils’ reading and writing.
All of these texts are part of our set of well-being reading units which also include PSHE sessions to run alongside reading sessions. These are available on our website:
Education Endowment Foundation (2021) Improving Social and Emotional Learning in Primary Schools.
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (2022) What is the Casel Framework? (https://casel.org/fundamentals-of-sel/what-is-the-casel-framework/)