What role does SEAL play in learning?
Social and emotional skills underpin effective learning by helping all pupils to do the following:
• Learn to manage their impulses, helping them settle quickly, concentrate and not disrupt others.
• Build warm relationships, which help them to care what others (e.g. staff and peers) think and to respond positively to them.
• Manage strong and uncomfortable emotions such as anger and frustration, and become more resilient, which helps them rise to the challenges of the learning process and stick at it if things get tough.
• Learn to feel good about themselves, which reduces the likelihood of disruptive behaviour and increases capacity for independent learning.
• Manage anxiety and stress, including around tests and examinations.
• Learn to empathise, for example with other pupils' desire to learn, which helps them contribute to a positive learning environment.
• Reflect on longer term goals, which helps them see the point of learning, raise their aspirations and become more able to resist negative pressure from others.
By entwining SEAL into all aspects of school life, children are given an excellent foundation of knowledge and skills they will need to help them cope with the challenges and ups and downs of life. SEAL really is an essential tool to promote healthy emotional functioning and social skill development.
There will be schools who know that the factors holding back learning in their setting include children’s difficulties in understanding and managing their feelings, working co-operatively in groups, motivating themselves and demonstrating resilience in the face of setbacks. These will not necessarily be schools where behaviour and attendance are poor. The materials will help develop children as effective learners and are therefore relevant to schools without significant behaviour problems as well as to those with behaviour or attendance as key issues.
If children do have not developed the right social skills, are not emotionally literate, i.e. do not have the understanding or skills to be able to manage their emotions e.g. stress, anger, frustration, anxiety, what they are feeling is likely to spill out in behaviour. So in terms of ‘Challenging Behaviour’ maybe we need to challenge ourselves and question why children are behaving in a particular way.
Research shows very clearly that the stress hormone corisol has an adverse affects on foetal and the developing brain, learning, memory recall and physical health. Therefore, a child who is living or functioning with stress, is unlikely to function within the desired parameters academically or socially and unless the causes of stress are addressed, is at increased risk of developing mental health problems later in life.
Family Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) is designed to make explicit links between the support parents and carers provide their children when they are developing social, emotional and behavioural skills and engaging in school-based work. Family SEAL is about collaboration and sharing ideas, with recognition and respect for the beliefs and values of the participants, while understanding that a child will need certain skills if he or she is to cope with the complexity of the social environment of the school.
There are two main parts to the Family SEAL workshops, followed by a farewell party:
1. An introductory workshop to which all parents and carers of children in a year group are invited and encouraged to attend. This includes a short introduction, a performance from the children and opportunities to complete a range of activities with the children. The parents and carers are then asked to 'sign up' to attend a further seven workshops. It is important to recognise that some parents will be unable to attend and might wish another family member or significant adult to attend in their place.
2. A series of seven workshop sessions, during which the participants share ideas and learn together about the delights and challenges of helping their child develop social, emotional and behavioural skills. This is followed by opportunities for participants and children to complete activities together. Ideal group size for the workshops will be up to ten or 12 adult participants and their children.
In terms of systemic working, family SEAL provide a useful tool to bridge the home and school environment and provide unique opportunities to bring about change to a system.
The National Strategies on the web
These practical materials are designed to help teachers and schools focus on the core business of improving teaching and learning. They are intended to offer support to both new and experienced teachers, as well as subject leaders and senior leaders. These resources are drawn from existing good practice to inform CPD, stimulate your thinking and develop your practice.
Helping schools unlock potential
Find out about what successful schools are doing to narrow attainment gaps and meet the needs of their most disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils. Access key resources, advice and CPD materials to support development in your school.
Join the professional community
To get the most from the SEAL website, register for free access to e-learning materials, development workshops, CPD materials, and practical advice and discussion groups.
Engaging parents and pupils
These materials support teachers in engaging parents and pupils in assessment and progression. They include CPD materials (video clips and guidance) and English and mathematics leaflets for parents.