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Guidance and toolkits

The following page contains links to key guidance documents and toolkits from a variety of different sources. These range from various models and approaches that have been encompassed by many educational settings to some less well known methods but which have shown a degree of success. Many of the guidance and toolkits emphasise the importance of a holistic and whole school approach as key to the success of any programme. 

DCSF (May 2008) Revised guidance on the education of children and young people with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD)

The purpose of this guidance is to bring together existing advice on improving achievement, health and emotional well-being for children and young people whose behavioural, emotional and social difficulties are persistent and provide an obstacle to their learning.  The guidance is set in the context of SEN and disability legislation and guidance, the Children Act requirement for local co-operation, guidance on mental health and the report of the Practitioners' Group on School Behaviour and Discipline.


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DfES (2005) Excellence and Enjoyment: Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL)

The Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) curriculum resource has been available to all primary schools from June 2005 and has since also been developed for the secondary sector. The resource was produced due to there being considerable evidence that developing children's social, emotional and behaviour skills is an important and effective way of improving children's behaviour and attendance and their learning. By building these skills, and by doing so progressively through the primary school years, lasting improvements can be made.

The SEAL resource is an explicit, structured, whole-curriculum framework and resource for teaching social, emotional and behavioural skills to all pupils. It has a whole school approach, and is intended to build on the good work schools are already doing, and can be readily adapted to fit in with schools' individual characters. The skills are in five groupings:

  • self-awareness
  • managing feelings
  • empathy
  • motivation
  • social skills.  

These skills support positive behaviour, regular attendance, learning, employability and wellbeing and have the potential to improve social mobility.  Pupils benefit from the development of these skills and regular opportunities to practice them at school. The resource includes:

  • Assembly materials on a clear SEAL theme.
  • A spiral curriculum which revisits each theme (and the skills associated with them) offering new ideas yearly.
  • Flexible lesson ideas at each development level.
  • Explicit links and ideas for the theme to be developed across the curriculum.


National Strategies (2003) Developing children's social, emotional and behavioural skills: guidance, DfES

Aims to provide schools and settings with an explicit, structured whole-curriculum framework and resources for teaching social, emotional and behavioural skills to all children. Such an approach makes a significant contribution to the provision for personal, social and emotional development in the Foundation Stage, and personal, social and health education in the primary phase. The site includes CPD materials, curriculum resources

Sharp, P. and Faupel, A. (Eds) (2002) Promoting Emotional Literacy: Guidelines for Schools, Local Authorities, and the Health Services. Southampton: Southampton Emotional Literacy Group, Southampton City Council Local Education Authority.

This is an extremely useful publication that gives practical guidelines on how to incorporate Emotional Literacy as part of a promoting behaviour change model within an authority. It was produced by Southampton Local Authority and aimed for practitioners working in schools and the LA to develop the SEAL programme.
Its main pretext is that learners need:
  • a strong sense of self and an empathic awareness of others
  • awareness of the role and power of emotions in learning and decision-making
  • a sound basis for their values and morality
  • a tolerance of diversity and difference
  • a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives

The publication gives lots of case studies, publications, resources and advice on setting up a holistic approach to an emotional literate centred approach within an authority. Advice is given on how, schools, teachers, parents governors, health, social care can all play a key role in the model.


DCSF (September 2005) Guidance for Establishing and Managing Primary and Secondary Learning Support Units (LSUs)

Learning Support Units are a key element in the Government's strategy to promote inclusion by improving behaviour and attendance. LSUs are school-based centres for pupils who are disaffected, at risk of exclusion or vulnerable because of family or social issues. They provide short-term teaching and support programmes tailored to the needs of pupils who need help in improving their behaviour, attendance or attitude to learning. The aim is to keep pupils in school and working while their problems are addressed, and to help to reintegrate them back into mainstream classes as quickly as possible.
The guide provides guidance around the following areas: principles; effective features; pupils; facilities and location; staffing and training; partnerships



DCSF (2004) Leading on behaviour: A handbook for leading teachers.

This handbook provides information about teachers' roles within the National Strategy for Behaviour and Attendance, and a structure to help them consider how they will shape it. As they themselves take part in more training, and as the behaviour and attendance work within the Primary National Strategy develops, they will be able to add information to make it a useful reference file



The National Peer Mentoring programme- Mentoring & Befriending Foundation 

This programme has been successfully piloted and will be available to all schools and colleges in England in order to enable young people to build friendships and provide support and advice to one another in schools. The programme works in schools and colleges and involves young people being trained to mentor their peers, listen to their problems and engage other young people in the community.  The National Peer Mentoring Programme delivers a key commitment of the 'Aiming high for young people' strategy to work with young people who have become disengaged with their community

Useful case studies of schools who have successfully embedded programmes of mentoring can be found here.


Peer Listening

These are programmes provided by Relate for schools. Peer listening schemes are developed for schools aiming to get everyone involved in getting on better and improving relationships with one another. They help students to act as 'Listeners' for younger children at the school who feel they need someone to talk to for whatever reason. The following web link takes you to a short case study of a peer listening programme in a school.


Healthy Schools initiative

Healthy Schools is a long-term initiative that promotes links between good health, behaviour and achievement. It offers close support and guidance to primary care trusts, local authorities and their schools around equipping children and young people with the skills and knowledge to make informed health and life choices and to reach their full potential. Core themes include PSHE, healthy eating, physical activity and emotional wellbeing. The website provides information on the programme and gives access to various resources and case studies.


Bernard, M. E. & Cartwright, R Programme, Achieve: A Curriculum of Lessons for Teaching Students How to be Successful in School and Life (You Can Do It Education !)

This series, spanning the primary and secondary phases, has been well researched in the States and Australia and has been used in a number of schools in the UK. It is designed to teach students the attitudes and motivational skills that are necessary for students to be motivated and achieve the best of their ability. The 'Habits of Mind' taught in the curriculum include: Self-acceptance, Optimism, Internal locus of control for learning, High Frustration Tolerance, Independence and non-approval seeking, Risk Taking and Non-Perfectionism, Tolerance and Non- Blaming of Others, Personal Responsibility, Task Analysis, Time Scheduling, Priority Setting, Setting Goals, Alternative Solution Thinking Skills.

The programme is part of You Can Do IT Education! YCDI's focus is on building social, emotional, and motivational capacity of young people rather than on their problems and deficits. It encourages prevention, promotion, and intervention efforts (school, home and community) in order to build the social and emotional strengths of young people. The approaches take into account theories from cognitive-behavioral therapy, attributional theory, learned optimism, self-efficacy, goal setting, internal motivation, academic procrastination, and interpersonal cognitive problem solving. in order to help young people achieve positive outcomes and avoid negative outcomes, parents and teachers need to help restructure negative, irrational patterns of thinking into more positive, rational ways of thinking. They work mainly on trying to overcome 5 key 'blockers' to negative outcomes in children: Feeling Angry/misbehaving; Not paying attention/disturbing others; procrastination; feeling very worried; feeling very down.


CASEL - Collaborative to Advance Social and Emotional Learning

This organisation works to advance the science and evidence-based practice of social and emotional learning (SEL). They write books, articles, and briefs that focus on scientific advances in SEL and explain their implications for practice. Priorities focus on the benefits of programmes for preschool through to 18; how SEL coordinates with other educational movements; research and training in implementation; assessment; school and district leadership development; educational policies; and communications
Some free resources are also available on the site including research reports into the effectiveness of a range of programmes. There is also an excellent web links page that takes you to all kinds of resources and programmes for schools - mainly from the USA.


Framework for Intervention

Framework for Intervention was one product of an enquiry into provision and practice for dealing with concerns about behaviour in Birmingham Schools in the late 1990s.It concentrates on prevention at the earliest opportunity- avoiding behaviour escalating into impossible and time consuming problems. The key to this is the way it helps staff and students in developing the best possible 'behavioural environment'. The approach concentrates on the environment, uses a problem solving approach (including methods similar to Solution Focussed methods/Brief Therapy), and works in accordance with the theories of Quality Management.  It is based on 3 general principles:
Children's behaviour is central to the learning process and is an intrinsic element of education
Problems in behaviour in educational settings are usually a product of a complex interaction between the individual, school, family, community and wider society
Social interaction based on mutual respect is a fundamental basis of an optimal educational environment


Nurture Groups UK

Nurture groups have been helping children at risk of failure in mainstream school since they began in Hackney in 1970. There are now over 1000 groups all over the UK, often in areas of the greatest social deprivation. Nurture groups were recommended as effective early intervention in the DfEE's 1997 Excellence for All Children: Meeting Special Educational Needs.

Nurture groups provide a small, emotionally secure setting in a specially furnished classroom for up to 12 children where two staff, modelling a supportive relationship, make the child feel accepted and valued and teach in a way and at a level that the child can accept. Being able to build trusting relationships with reliable and consistent adults and with their peer group establishes a foundation for healthy emotional development, enhancing their self- confidence and their ability to take responsibility for their own behaviour, which increases chances of educational success.

Careful assessments are carried out of the child's cognitive and emotional needs and strategies devised to meet them. Relationships in the group are managed positively, so for example when quarrels develop, the children are calmed down and then helped to think how they can handle provocation better in future.  The move back full time to their base class is made easier by the fact that all the school staff support the nurture group, understanding its aims and in fact beginning to adapt its strategies. This support ensures that there is no stigma attached to being in the group; in fact the problems often is to keep the other children out!




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