Friday, 26 June 2015


This review by the early Intervention Foundation looks at the evidence of links between social and emotional skills in children and how they fare as adults. It find that there are many programmes across the UK that have set out to improve social and emotional skills; we also find that some of them have rigorous evidence to prove their effectiveness, and that many do not.

Three independent reports have been published that seek to answer a range of pressing questions:
  1. UCL Institute of Education: Social and emotional skills in childhood and their long-term effects on adult life. Does the evidence suggest that social and emotional skills developed in childhood matter for adult life? How much? Which characteristics are important, for which outcomes?
  2. National University of Ireland, Galway: What works in enhancing social and emotional skills development during childhood and adolescence? What is the evidence on the effectiveness of social and emotional skills-based interventions implemented in the school and out-of-school setting in the UK? What are their key characteristics?
  3. ResearchAbility: A deep dive into social and emotional learning. What do the views of those involved tell us about the challenges for policy-makers? How are the issues surrounding implementation of social and emotional learning on the ground seen in the world of policy and practice? What is the nature of current provision and what are the barriers and enablers to improving provision?
These three reports make clear that social and emotional skills play a fundamental role in shaping life chances of children and young people and the nature of their adult lives. They are important both for individuals, for society and in tackling intergenerational patterns of inequality and disadvantage.

It is also clear that there are many things that schools can do that have an effect on these capabilities. There are programmes, like the Cutlers' 'Made in Sheffield' approach, that have been shown in replicated, quality evaluations to have an impact on skills, behaviour and character traits. But the current nature of provision in our schools is wide-ranging and variable. There are no indicators of performance in broad use and there is no clear national framework of assessment. There are also big gaps in advice for schools on what works. Given the reduction in funding in this area, the case for building a robust and broad-based pool of evidence about what works is stronger than ever–both to ensure that programmes are of the highest quality and to strengthen the case for investment from a range of sources.

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