The Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) initiative was rolled out across the UK in 2005 and aimed to support children aged from 3-16 years to develop their personal and social skills. These skills involved self-awareness, managing their feelings, motivation, empathy and social skills. These interpersonal and intrapersonal skills have been shown to improve learning and promote emotional health and wellbeing, alongside a range of other benefits to pupils, families and schools.

S.E.A.L. aims to provide an entitlement curriculum to develop social and emotional skills within a structured and progressive framework, offering class-based quality first-teaching to all children.

How does SEAL work in practise?

Curriculum materials for each Year Group are provided (from Nursery – Y6) to support the explicit curriculum, divided into 6 whole school themes (+ additional material for anti-bullying work).

An overview is provided for each theme, which includes a whole school assembly, a staff training booklet, family activities to send home and ideas for small group work. In addition to these curriculum based resources, there are a number of ‘whole-school’ materials such as posters, photographs and protocols (e.g. for conflict management and problem-solving) which are designed to offer a set of shared concepts and vocabulary to be used by the whole school community.

Each half-term the following process is followed:

  • The theme and curriculum materials are introduced in a staff meeting
  • A whole school assembly takes place to launch the theme
  • Curriculum work takes place in every classroom, using the curriculum booklets to achieve the learning outcomes for the theme. Family activities may be sent home, and some small group work might take place from the resources provided.
  • At the end of the half-term a follow-up assembly+ celebration of the application of the focus SEAL skills takes place
  • A staff meeting review takes place.
  • While the theme is ongoing, the focus skills (the learning outcomes for the theme) will be reinforced, modelled, noticed and celebrated by all staff (including lunch-time assistants etc.) both across the curriculum and during unstructured times.

SEAL Resources

The majority of the SEAL resources can be found on the Lancs Grid for Learning website. Even if the whole programme is not used in a whole school approach, I found some of the assemblies, power points and posters really useful for one off sessions to combat problems that had arisen in the classroom.

I particularly liked these three interactive powerpoints for class sessions:

No Way (upper KS2)
Jack's Choice (Lower KS2)
Left Out (make your own mind up!)

Benefits of SEAL

I think its a shame that SEAL isn't used as widely as it was, as the problems that it tried to address are becoming more and more apparent in society. It helped lift behaviour and attendance, reduced bullying and improved mental health for both children and staff. I know PSHE includes some elements of this, but not in as much detail or on a whole school basis.

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Gary Hall
Article by Gary Hall
A teacher with a background in technology and marketing based in Beverley, England. Enjoys walking, travelling, reading and writing interesting content to help others. Feel free to comment below.


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