Three reports support the value of social-emotional learning

Commissioned by the Early Intervention Foundation, the Cabinet Office, and the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, three new reports look at social-emotional learning in children and how it affects their adult lives. Data were gathered from the 1970 British Cohort Study.

A team from UCL (University College London) investigated whether, and how much, emotional skills developed in childhood matter during adult life. Their study indicated that development of self-control/self-regulation in childhood mattered most into adulthood. Self-perceptions/awareness and social skills were also important and emotional well-being contributed to mental well-being in adults. There was a lack of evidence on motivation and resilience.

In the second report, researchers at the National University of Ireland, Galway, looked at evidence of the effectiveness of 39 in-school and 55 out-of-school social-emotional skills interventions in the UK. They reported strong evidence that well-evaluated in-school interventions (both primary and secondary) led to benefits for social-emotional competencies and educational outcomes. Targeted programmes for high-risk students, programmes for prevention of violence and substance abuse, and whole-school approaches that involved parents and the wider community were also found to be effective; the last was particularly effective for prevention of bullying.

Finally, ResearchAbility reported on issues raised by people who implement social-emotional learning and how these issues are viewed by policy makers at national and local levels. The report identified eight key challenges including:

  • Effective provision needed to deliver the whole group of skills, not just focus on one or two characteristics.
  • Social-emotional learning provision should be available to all.
  • There was no systematic evaluation of interventions.
  • Skills and training of staff supporting social-emotional learning was important for ensuring quality provision.

An Early Intervention Foundation summary report considered that the three reports “indicate strongly that the social and emotional skills measured at age 10 turned out to be important signals of a flourishing or struggling child” but that “there are big gaps in advice for schools on what works.”

Source: Social and emotional learning: skills for life and work (2015), Early Intervention Foundation

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