SEAL Newsletter Issue 3 - a whole school approach to SEAL

Practical tools

New on our website is a tool you can use to make the links between SEAL and the Ofsted inspection framework. The tool shows how SEAL contributes to...
In last month’s newsletter we summarised some research by Professor Robin Banerjee and others which found evidence that a whole-school universal...

Top resource

Helping Children with Feelings – nine guidebooks and nine accompanying stories (or buy each separately) By: Margot Sunderland and Nicky Armstrong...

SEAL Newsletter Issue 3 - a whole school approach to SEAL

Mind Full http://www.mindfull.org/ is a free digital service for young people aged 11-17 who are looking to access real-time wellbeing and mental health support. They can access a range of self-help information and resources, expert mentoring support and professional counselling and psychotherapy in a safe and secure online environment. For schools, there are a range of downloadable and interactive resources that can be used with groups to help them develop their emotional literacy, resilience and positive coping mechanisms.
The happiness of children in the UK is in decline, with 15% of young teenagers reporting low well-being, a report from a children's charity says.
Nick Hurd, the minister for civil society, believes young people are not getting jobs because they lack the confidence, self-control and ‘grit’...
In a recent survey 87% of parents said schools should play a wider role than just delivering academic results. More than 1,000 parents were questioned by Populus for the University of Birmingham's Jubilee Centre for Character and Values. Most parents said they wanted schools to encourage values such as honesty and fairness in pupils. An overwhelming 95% said it was possible to teach a child values and shape their character in a positive way at school through lessons, team-building exercises or voluntary work.
SEAL continues to be developed in China with funding and on a scale that we can only dream about. In July this year, the team trained 150 Education officials alongside the Beijing Normal University team who are leading the development with UNICEF, over a five day period.
 Filling the gap left by government, the PSHE Association, in consultation with a wide variety of agencies and PSHE practitioners, has produced a revised programme of study based on the needs of today's pupils and schools. Their programme of study identifies the key concepts and skills that underpin PSHE education. This programme of study covers key stages 1 to 4 and is based on three core themes: • Health and Wellbeing; • Relationships; • Living in the Wider World.
After another short consultation over the summer, the government in England has issued the final National Curriculum guidance and programmes of study. There has been no shift on their position on PSHE – it will not be statutory and government will not provide programmes of study.

Sharing practice

Netherfield Primary is a unique and inspirational school. Just outside Nottingham, it serves a community of disadvantaged, mainly white British families – the children who national statistics show to be the hardest group in which to raise standards. The school also welcomes a number of children at risk of exclusion or already excluded by other schools. Yet Ofsted have recently judged pupils’ achievement to be outstanding – as well as the quality of teaching, the behaviour and safety of pupils, and leadership and management. Many things have contributed to these outcomes: inspirational leadership, brilliant work to engage families and raise aspirations in the community, a creative curriculum and great teaching. But one element that has played a key role in accelerating the school improvement journey has been a whole-school approach to SEAL.
Bradley Stoke is a large, fairly new community secondary Academy on the northern outskirts of Bristol. The school has maintained a very high attendance rate and a low exclusion rate since it opened. Ofsted were very impressed with student behaviour and attitudes when they visited this year , saying ‘Students’ behaviour is outstanding and they feel very safe. They have an excellent understanding of the school’s high expectations of behaviour and students’ attitudes to others are first rate. Provision for students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding and ensures that students develop into highly informed and reflective young people.’ The school’s SEAL work is led by Susie Davis, Director of Student Support. Susie is a real expert in social and emotional learning, with a background in behaviour support and a postgraduate diploma in emotional literacy from the University of the West of England. When she joined the school seven years ago there was a SEAL-supportive ethos but no explicit teaching of SEAL skills. She set out to develop multi-stranded layers of provision, from ethos to student voice, peer mentoring, support for parents and a taught SEAL curriculum. Initially she embedded SEAL into transition activities. New Y7 students spend a day exploring how they feel on starting secondary school, what they are looking forward to and any worries they have. One term in they spend time reflecting on where they are now. There is also a summer project called ‘My time to shine’, when children present to each other things about themselves that make them who they are. SEAL and Anti-bullying became a focus of the school’s ‘Session 16’ learning experiences, where student timetables are collapsed every 16th day. They were also incorporated into tutor time activities and student-led assemblies.  Anti-bullying The school’s anti-bullying work is particularly strong. Last year anti-bullying week in November focused on student language – the words we use to each other and their impact. Students completed an anonymous on-line survey about their language use, which showed that the word ‘gay’ was widely and inappropriately used to describe anything from trainers to pencil cases. The school worked on a range of initiatives with a Bristol-based group who tackle homophobia. One in particular caught Ofsted’s eye: ’The school’s openness and the strategies used to tackle harassment and educating students in the different forms of bullying are outstanding. One recent strategy involved all staff members wearing T-shirts highlighting homophobic bullying. The ‘Good as You’ shirts were highly effective in raising students’ awareness of this form of bullying.’ Students used tutor time to design a student language charter and posters showing why it is important to use words in the right way.  Family SEAL Family SEAL was introduced in 2010 with a programme that Susie devised. In a full evaluation report, Susie notes that ‘the challenge of transferring learning and skills with students into everyday life outside of the classroom isn’t easy. Expectations around behaviour, attitudes to learning and self can often be very different in the home context, and the need for a shared understanding with our parents that would ensure a consistent approach became highly apparent. Added to this was a strong desire to engage parents in a more positive and constructive dialogue that recognised their own needs in relation to SEAL and helped them to identify their child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as empower them to make changes and become confident, assertive and emotionally literate parents.’ As a pilot project, the school selected a small group of parents to target for the programme. They were parents who were struggling with relationships with their child, often had difficult meetings and conversations with the school due to behaviour issues, whose child appeared unmotivated, lacked resilience or had unsatisfactory school attendance. The first challenge was to get them through the door; Susie and her team spent a great deal of time encouraging them to attend, with a deliberately informal approach by letter and phone. The programme (which is now available to buy) took parents on a journey through the five domains of SEAL – self-awareness, managing feelings, empathy, motivation and social skills. Activities helped parents understand the five areas and reflect on them in relation to themselves. Sessions aimed to equip them with the information and skills to support their child and enhance their own areas of SEAL, which they evaluated at the start of the programme. Each evening session lasted approximately one and a half hours, although as the group became more confident and open with each other, sessions became longer. This was the content: Session 1 Setting the scene What exactly is SEAL and what has it got to do with me? Session 2 Understanding the teenage brain It’s like an entertainment system that isn’t wired up right! Session 3 Self-aware and high esteem Knowing me and knowing you Session 4 Talking to your teenager Tips on good and bad communication Session 5 Assertive parenting The way to parent! Session 6 Emotions: recognising and managing them How they feel? And, how they cope Session 7 Sex, Alcohol and Drugs What, why and how? Session 8 Getting motivated, feeling optimistic and bouncing back! What motivates your teen and how can you help? Programme review Session 9 Student and Parent activity session Bringing it all together The programme is a visually engaging, with a colourful and often humorous approach to the topic which included games such as the ‘school bus stop’ where parents reflected on their own likes and dislikes about their school experience, as well as interactive activities and opportunities to share experiences and ask questions. Each week parents had their own homework task to try out strategies they had learnt. The impact of the programme has been huge. Students involved showed large gains on the PASS (Pupil Attitudes to School and Self) questionnaire, and improved academic progress. Two thirds showed improved attendance, and there were reductions in behaviour incidents for all those whose behaviour had been a concern at the start. Every parent involved strongly recommended the programme and felt they benefited. They were able to report important changes: ‘“A conscious effort to manage my own feelings and avoid reacting angrily”, “To talk more and understand better”, “Being more assertive and establishing consequences better”. Parents became much more willing to share their thoughts and feelings over the course of the sessions and formed a strong bond. To this day they still meet as a group.  A SEAL refresh SEAL at Bradley Stoke had been linked to the school’s core values, the 4Rs - Reflective, Resilient, Resourceful and Responsible, which form the basis of staff reports for parents and students. As with any development, the 4 Rs had become less of a driver over time, and needed a refresh. A colleague of Susie’s, Jacqui Gallagher, had previously worked at a school where she had already been developing an approach to learning and development based on students’ strengths and with origins in Positive Psychology. This is now being implemented Bradley Stoke. Positive Psychology has identified that when people are ‘thriving’ they are usually aware of their own strengths and are using these to support them across all other areas. Knowing and following one’s strengths provides a sense of direction, helps to develop confidence and helps achieve one’s goals. The development of certain strengths also helps build resilience and provides a buffer against depression and other mental health issues. 24 key strengths have been identified by researchers, and these form the basis of work at Bradley Stoke. They include enthusiasm, fairness, teamwork, creativity, self-control, courage and kindness. These strengths have been highlighted to students in launch assemblies that used plenty of visual support and fun You Tube clips. Students have completed an on-line questionnaire which profiles the strengths of individuals and provides a baseline for tutor groups and the school as a whole. Tutor groups will look at their collective profile and work on targets for improvement. Students are encouraged to use their particular strengths to help others in their group – for example, a pupil with a strength in enthusiasm might use this to help someone to improve their self-control. Tutor groups will look at a different strength each week in tutor time, using an online folder of activities which Susie and Jacqui have created. Students will design posters and ‘strength postcards’ to be given to students to celebrate particular achievements or progress. Existing peer tutors will be trained up in the strengths approach, so that they can provide support to peers.  Staff development The strengths approach was launched at a staff meeting in the summer term. Susie and Jacqui have kindly shared the presentation and activities they used; you can find it here http://sealcommunity.org/member-resource/staff-training-strengths-approach-bradley-stoke-community-school Staff were immediately enthusiastic and quickly began to use the language of strengths. This language will, it is hoped, create a consistent, whole school approach that students will experience in their subject lessons as well as tutor time.  What’s worked? Reflecting on the school’s SEAL journey, Susie says how much she has valued the opportunity she has had to contribute to a cohesive ethos in a relatively new school that has been growing its intake year group by year group. She feels that what has worked in school has been a shared understanding of the strong links between social and emotional development and learning, as well as behaviour. ‘What we often see in our school is poor learner confidence’ she says. Addressing this through a focus on how learners feel has helped students to achieve. The new strengths approach promises to take this even further.

Resource roundup

 Anti-bullying week approaches, so we’ve uploaded a collection of resources to help children understand and respect difference.
YoungMinds has been working with the Beano to create Mandi, a new character specifically created to engage children with mental health.
This resource from the Nurture Group network provides tried and tested tools, strategies and ideas for exploring loss with children and young...
These six stories have been written to help 9 – 13 year olds deal with some of the issues they face, such as test anxiety, loss and transition, so...
The Home Office and PSHE Association have updated these free resources to support the government’s Disrespect NoBody campaign. The campaign, and...