13 Aug 2007

Ofsted report on social, emotional and behavioural education

One finding from the Ofsted report [July 2007] was:

“Most schools reported that they did not have sufficiently detailed information at the beginning of the pilot. Schools expressed a wish to receive materials in electronic form, with hyperlinks to more detailed research about developing social, emotional and behavioural skills.”

Affintities is pleased to suggest teachers visit www.talk2me.org.uk where they will find a useful online programme for assessing individual pupil needs and for measuring progress by pupil, class and year group in social, emotional and behavioural skills.

An earlier report by Ofsted on Sex and Relationships Education [April 2002] recommended that pupils should be taught more about values, not just facts.

The Ofsted report Time for Change? on PSHE [April 2007] contained the following:

"At times, it is the school rather than the home that provides the moral code and, in its absence in the home, some children are put under additional pressures."

"Parents’ greatest challenge is to set clear expectations, and to be aware of and to accept responsibility for their children's behaviour. Some parents do not rise to this challenge."

"the ability to make moral judgements about what to do in actual situations and the potential to put these judgements into practice"

"Most of the schools in this survey ensure that their aims and values are well known to pupils and their parents, and that they are adhered to consistently. They will often refer to personal morality, the effects of actions and choices, and the nature of relationships concepts very relevant to SRE. However, some of the schools visited need to broaden their coverage of SRE and clarify what they mean by achievement in this area, so that it includes developing pupils' values and attitudes....."

"focusing on a pupil's individual needs and avoiding a one size fits all approach......... trying to bring together the work of mentors, counsellors and external support agencies with individual pupils and, if appropriate, with their families"

Now the Ofsted report “Developing social, emotional and behavioural skills in secondary schools” [July 2007] moves the debate on further. This report is based on visits to 11 schools selected from 54 in 5 local authorities that have adopted the Secondary National Strategy pilot programme for SEAL [Social and Emotional Learning]. There are some interesting findings:

The impact on pupils included:

“- more settled behaviour
- less demonstration of egocentric behaviour
- a greater willingness to persist with tasks they found difficult”

In one school, “Exclusions from the group dropped by 90% and relationships among pupils were improved greatly.”


“After five terms, the greatest impact in the schools was on teachers’ attitudes towards the idea of social, emotional and behavioural skills and their understanding of how to develop these skills systematically within subject lessons.”

“Some teachers initially showed resistance to the initiative: they expected an increase in workload or had reservations about the extent to which developing pupils’ social and emotional skills should be part of the teacher’s role.”

“…. schools found it difficult to analyse their pupils’ specific social, emotional and behavioural skills needs and struggled to find an appropriate starting point ……..”

“The programme for developing social, emotional and behavioural skills was introduced most successfully when senior leaders understood its underlying philosophy. Where this was not the case, it remained a ‘bolt-on’ to personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons or form tutor time and was largely ineffective.”

“Developing social, emotional and behavioural skills was most successful in schools with a strong and clearly articulated ethos. More than half the schools in this small social, emotional and behavioural skills survey found that it helped them to revisit their values and articulate them more clearly.”

“The pilot’s greatest impact was on developing teachers’ understanding of pupils’ emotional and social development.”

“Almost all the schools initially emphasised behaviour. Understanding how to develop pupils’ social and emotional skills, and the planning to do so, came later.”

“All the schools found it difficult to evaluate the impact of the work. Even where the work was successful, schools often found it difficult to disengage what had been achieved through the programme from other initiatives. Where the work had not been integrated with broader school improvements, its influence was negligible…….”

“The pilot was most effective when senior leaders made time for staff to discuss and reflect on their own social, emotional and behavioural skills. This was potentially contentious but, nonetheless, important.”

“… where the philosophy was not understood, social, emotional and behavioural skills work remained a ‘bolt-on’ to PSHE lessons or form tutor time, rather than being taught across the curriculum, and was largely ineffective.”

“Towards the end of the survey, schools were asked whether they planned to continue with social, emotional and behavioural skills work when the pilot finished. All but one intended to do so, and almost all had clear plans about the next steps. Even in the schools which implemented the programme most effectively, it was clear that social, emotional and behavioural skills development needed to be continued for a significant period of time before it would have an impact on pupils’ skills.”

“Evaluating success challenged even the most effective schools. Throughout the pilot, schools found it difficult to evaluate the impact of their work in developing social, emotional and behavioural skills and the guidance from the Secondary National Strategy was not clear or detailed enough about monitoring and evaluation.”

www.talk2me.org.uk enables schools to promote and evaluate changes in social, emotional and behavioural development and to engage with parents in improving their understanding of this important subject. Affinities welcomes the latest Ofsted report.

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