A national evaluation of the impact of the secondary social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) programme

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Abstract

In recent years, the English education system has reflected a worldwide interest in social and emotional learning (SEL), as evidenced by the national launch of the secondary social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) programme in 2007. SEAL is a whole-school approach designed to positively influence a range of pupil outcomes, including increased social and emotional skills, better behaviour and reduced mental health difficulties. The aim of the current study was to examine the impact of SEAL on such outcomes. The study utilised a quantitative, quasi-experimental design with a sample of 22 schools (approximately 2360 pupils) implementing the SEAL programme, and 19 'matched comparison' schools (approximately 1991 pupils), selected on the basis of similar school-level characteristics. A cohort of pupils in these schools completed annual self-rated assessments of their social and emotional skills (using the Emotional Literacy Assessment and Intervention instrument), mental health difficulties and pro-social behaviour (using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire) over a two-year period. After controlling for a range of school- and pupil-level characteristics, analysis using multi-level modelling indicated marginal, non-significant effects of the SEAL programme on pupils' social and emotional skills and mental health difficulties, and no significant effect on their pro-social behaviour. The study findings are discussed in relation to existing evidence about the effectiveness of the SEAL programme and the broader SEL evidence base. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-238
Number of pages26
JournalEducational Psychology
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • school
  • secondary
  • social and emotional learning
  • universal intervention

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