A SEL toolbox at Billesley Primary School

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Authored by

Jean Gross

Staff at Billesley Primary in Birmingham have created a ‘Social Emotional Learning Toolbox’, a digital collection of content covering the core SEL competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships and responsible decision making. The toolbox includes visuals, videos and online interactive tools to support each competency.

In a blog for the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) research school network, Laura Butler, specialist teacher and leader of SEL, describes some of the content.

“A key EEF recommendation is using feelings charts along with reading, games and regular check-ins to provide opportunities for identifying and expressing emotions. Our toolbox includes mood meters adapted from the RULER Approach, differentiated to ensure progression across year groups. 

For self-management, EEF guidance recommends that children are taught to recognise body cues and learn how to calm themselves down. Billesley’s toolbox includes “a range of breathing techniques, videos and gifs that teachers can easily copy into their lesson plans, giving themselves and their students a moment to self-regulate.

In PSHE lessons, children are taught about body cues, and choose their own calming tools which they are encouraged to use throughout the school day and at home.” 




The toolbox also has visuals for how to set goals, how feelings affect behaviour, and steps in approaching and solving problems. “Teachers practice these with children outside of crisis moments, “, writes Laura, “supporting their learning behaviours and thus reducing the likelihood of problems occurring in the first place.”

During the first national lockdown teachers included emotion check-ins before their virtual lessons, offered choices for self-regulation on Google Classroom, and included assignments where children created self-care plans.

One Year 4 teacher comments on her experience of using the toolbox:

“Our Monday mood checks are the most informative, because they tell me what kind of teacher I need to be. When I know dad left mum over the weekend, my job is to comfort and console, to offer a few more calm breaks and time to talk. If I didn’t know that, I’d be doing more harm than good.”

Helpful visuals can be found at https://www.rulerapproach.org/. And don’t forget the SEAL visuals at http://www.sealcommunity.org/resources/results/taxonomy%3A40 and http://sealcommunity.org/resources/feelings-thought-s-and-behaviour