Teacher guidance based on Manchester research launching in primary schools

A new guide for teachers about how to support children in developing their social and emotional skills has been released to every primary school in England, based on research by academics at The University of Manchester.

The research, commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation, aimed to address outdated or absent guidance on how to best support children to develop their emotional awareness, social interactions and decision-making skills.

The academics embarked on the first major review of reviews of existing research in the area, as well as doing an in-depth examination of current school programmes. They selected thirteen examples with the best evidence, before analysing them to examine what was common between the programmes.

This then enabled the researchers to produce a framework for ‘actionable practices’ - concrete examples of how teachers can integrate teaching social and emotional skills into their everyday activities. This is different from most current recommendations, which focus on implementing a full curriculum – this can be very time-consuming for teachers.

An example of one of these practices is a recommendation that teachers may benefit from focusing on developing emotional language with pupils – for instance, by introducing new emotional vocabulary during classes, in order to give them a greater vocabulary to describe how they feel.

The researchers say that children will benefit from more social and emotionally-informed practices in schools - the development of their social and emotional skills are linked with a range of future benefits, including better attainment in school, better mental health and improved behaviour.

“This work is important, because social and emotional skills have been linked to a wide range of important outcomes including better attainment, as well as better mental health, which is an increasing priority in our health and education systems,” said academic Dr. Michael Wigelsworth.

We know that teachers see social and emotional learning as important, but are incredibly pressed for time, which limits what they can do to help promote these skills. As a result of our work, teachers now have a set of recommendations that should be usable in the classroom.
Dr. Michael Wigelsworth

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