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University of Sussex

Research by Robin Banerjee at the University of Sussex has found a link between work to ensure staff and pupils experience positive relationships and improvements in their attainment.

The researchers looked at 32 primaries and 24 secondaries involved in the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) Programme, and differentiated between them on whether they viewed SEAL as simply a set of activities for a specific group of students, an initiative confined to the curriculum or something that affected the whole school ethos.

What they found was that ‘having a whole-school universal approach to SEAL was the strongest predictor of an enhanced school ethos, characterised by positive social relationships, attitudes and behaviour.’

Where schools had a more positive social ethos, they were found to have:

  • More positive pupil experiences of peer interaction
  • Better Ofsted ratings for behaviour
  • Lower levels of persistent absence
  • Higher attainment in KS2 SATs and GCSEs

How Ofsted rated behaviour in the school, how staff and students rated school’s social and emotional ethos and how well SEAL was integrated into students’ learning were all independently predictive of better attainment results.

A series of illustrative examples of effective practice from the project is being prepared, and will appear on the National Strategies site. Social and emotional aspects of learning in schools: contributions to improving attainment, behaviour and attendance: a report on data from the National Strategies Tracker School Project by Dr Robin Banerjee can be downloaded from the National Strategies website.


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