Six evidence-based recommendations in new EEF report to support primary schools to review their current approaches to SEL
Effective social and emotional learning (SEL) can increase positive pupil behaviour, mental health and well-being, and academic performance. However, despite being seen as one of their top priorities by almost all primary schools, only just over one-third say that dedicated planning for SEL is central to their practice
These are key findings from new guidance published today by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in partnership with the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF).
The report – Improving Social and Emotional Learning in Primary Schools – reviews the best available research to offer school leaders six practical recommendations to support good SEL for all children. It stresses this is especially important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and other vulnerable groups, who, on average, have weaker SEL skills at all ages than their better-off classmates.
Improving Social and Emotional Learning in Primary Schools
Evidence from the EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit suggests that effective SEL can lead to learning gains of +4 months over the course of a year
Open-ended questions [can] enable children to link fictional texts to their own experiences, learn new vocabulary, and practise applying social and emotional skills.
Yet – even though SEL is already a large (and often unrecognised) part of their current job – few teachers receive support on how they can develop these skills in their everyday teaching practice. This is particularly important at a time when schools are reviewing their core vision and curriculum offer, and planning to implement statutory Relationships and Health education.
The report’s recommendations include teaching SEL skills explicitly and integrating them into everyday classroom practice. For example, a teacher might connect the characters and situations in a book with the children’s experiences by reading a passage at least twice and then asking questions, such as:
- ‘What do you think the characters are feeling?’
- ‘How can you tell they are feeling this way?’
- ‘How would you solve the problem?’
- ‘Can you use words from the story to explain how you feel when you…?’
- ‘What could we do differently if this happens in our classroom?’
Open-ended questions like these enable children to link fictional texts to their own experiences, learn new vocabulary, and practise applying social and emotional skills.
Today’s guidance aims to help build professional knowledge and support schools in applying it. Its emphasis is on developing and reinforcing SEL skills in the classroom, as well as through leadership and whole-school practices, rather than increasing current workloads.
This report sits alongside the EEF’s other guidance reports – including improving literacy, maths, metacognition, effective implementation, and making best use of teaching assistants – providing the basis for an overall advance towards evidence-informed school improvement
Sir Kevan Collins, EEF chief executive, comments:
Dr Jo Casebourne, chief executive at the Early Intervention Foundation, adds: