Education Endowment Foundation:3. Wider strategies

3. Wider strategies

Wider strategies relate to the most significant non-academic barriers to success in school, including attendance, behaviour and social and emotional support.

Schools put significant effort into sharing information and making new, positive connections, so that pupils start confidently in their new setting. We know that transitions between classes, year groups and settings are likely to be of significant importance in the lead up to the new academic year.

The evidence that attends transition is largely focused on the move from primary to secondary. However, principles can be learned for other potentially vulnerable transition points.

Several studies have shown a dip in attainment, especially in literacy and numeracy, coinciding with this time of change. Some challenges at the point of transition that emerge from the evidence base include:

  • Adapting to academic challenges and curriculum discontinuity;
  • Familiarising with formal school systems, expectations and routines;
  • Developing healthy peer networks and dealing with issues around bullying.

All these factors may have also been affected by the periods of partial school closures.

By anticipating the risk points around times of transition, schools, parents and young people can work together to deliberately build support around significant moves. Additionally, good communication across schools can help foster curriculum continuity, intelligent use of diagnostic assessment, along with specific planning to address pastoral needs and academic support.

Social and emotional skills’ are essential for children’s development— they support effective learning and are linked to positive outcomes in later life. With the right support, children learn to articulate and manage their emotions, deal with conflict, solve problems, understand things from another person’s perspective, and communicate in appropriate ways.

Many schools have been evaluating their approaches as part of their plans for all pupils’ full return to school, and considering how to adapt their provision for those they are still working with remotely. Monitoring the careful implementation of SEL in school should involve considerations around staff training, curriculum time and the impact of bespoke interventions.

The teaching of SEL should be explicit, including simple activities, routines and strategies aligned with everyday class teaching. Five core competencies at the heart of SEL include:

  • Self-awareness;
  • Self-regulation;
  • Social awareness;
  • Relationship skills; and
  • Responsible decision making

These competencies can be explicitly taught in a series of lessons when schools plan their curriculum or adopt an evidence-based programme. It is beneficial to share these strategies with families so they can support self-regulation at home: setting goals, planning and managing time, effort and emotions.

Parents play a crucial role in supporting their children’s learning, and levels of parental engagement are consistently associated with academic outcomes. Schools and early years settings can support parents to engage with their children’s learning in a wide range of ways, for example, by:

  • Providing regular feedback on children’s progress;
  • Offering advice on improving the home learning environment; and
  • Running more intensive programmes for children struggling with reading or behaviour.
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Support for schools

1. High-quality teaching

Evidence indicates that great teaching is the most important lever schools have to improve outcomes for their pupils.
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