Study on SEAL Social Emotional Aspects of Learning

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SEAL is a resource which has been developed by the DfES and is part of the Primary National Strategy. This curriculum - based resource after three years of piloting and development is available to all schools.

It is based on the work that is already in place in most of the primary schools.The focus is on

In 2009 Sheffield had 128 Primary Schools who had been recruited to take part in the Social , Emotional ,Aspects of Learning (SEAL) since the initiative started in September 2005.

'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 '-DfES

In Sheffield SEAL was promoted through a phased approach.

According to dfes leaflet SEAL is 'The underpinning qualities and skills that help us manage life and learning effectively.

There are five social and emotional aspects of learning:

self- managing motivation empathy social awareness feelings skills'. The resource is intended for the whole school community. Its use is likely to be coordinated by the headteacher together with the PSHE and Citizenship or healthy schools coordinator, or the school's lead behaviour professional. It will be delivered mainly by class teachers in primary schools. Parts of the resource will also be useful to practitioners in early years settings. In all settings, all the adults who have contact with children - teachers and teaching assistants, lunchtime staff and support staff - need to be aware of the vocabulary used and the key ideas, for example about solving problems, that are introduced to the children.'p5 DfES 1378-2005 Social and emotional aspects of learning: guidance Primary National Strategy


The SEAL launch training was for a full day and I went with the school's assistant head.

I had already received the SEAL material and 'lunch box' but only understood a little about the programme. There were lots of SEAL group activities and resources during the sessions to help us understand SEAL.

One of the activities we had to do was about drawing our life journey starting with when I was born…….We had to share our experiences with a person we didn't know. This activity was quite interesting because my experience was completely different from my partners and it helped us to feel ease with each other. In the other sessions there were headteachers from other schools who spoke about how well the SEAL HAD CHANGED THEIR SCHOOL FOR THE BETTER. They explained how the behaviour of the children had improved in their school and how the workshops had involved their parents. They had trained their children to use their calming activities before they became angry.

In the last session the resources different year booklets for teachers, children, parents the 'lunch box' were explained. It was too much to take in a day and I felt that I needed more time to study all the material given. We were also given dates for further training and twilight sessions.

A few weeks after the SEAL programme I got in touch with the behaviour consultant who was allocated to our school. I invited him to hold two staff meetings and explain the new SEAL scheme of work to the teachers He introduced the resources to the staff which consisted of:

• a 'Getting started' poster - a quick guide to the materials

• a guidance booklet

• a set of resources to deliver seven whole-school themes, each consisting of an assembly to

launch the theme and teaching ideas and materials for class-based follow-up in each year

group (Foundation Stage, KS1 and KS2)

• an additional set of differentiated resources for small-group work with children who need

extra help to develop their social, emotional and behavioural skills

• a set of staff-development activities and information sheets to accompany each theme

• a set of activities for families to use at home to accompany each theme

• a whole-school resource file (posters, photographs and photocopiable resources

.In the first meeting he asked all the staff what they were good at unanimously and we had to match the skills with the teachers. This was an interesting game to inspire the teachers .He talked about change and how 'change' affects people in different ways. Some people are not affected at all where as some people feel 'anxious, scared…..etc

I classify myself as disliking change only because of the unknown and I am comfortable with my familiar surroundings.

He explained what SEAL meant Social Emotional Aspects of Learning and how it had five strands:-


managing feelings



social skills

SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) .As I was appointed

PSHE coordinator I and the deputy were invited to a SEAL conference. For the school to gain Healthy Status the school had to be involved in the SEAL programme.

A whole school box was given to us and by the help of the seal consultant we were expected to deliver this in our school. The box contained a

Guidance booklet. Assemblies and teaching ideas for six whole-school 'themes', each theme providing up to six weeks' work:- New beginnings (September/October - Getting on and falling out (November/December)

- Going for Goals! (January/February)- Good to be me (February/March)- Relationships (March/April)- Changes (June/July)• An assembly and teaching ideas for the shorter (one to two week) theme Say no to Bullying. You might want to use this at the time of national anti-bullying week in November.

• Ideas for follow-up work with small groups of children who need additional support (Silver set).• A set of ideas to develop staff knowledge and confidence (Purple set). A pack of ideas for involving parents and carers (Gold set).'

The SEAL consultant and I decided to organise a time where he could come to our school to inform headteachers, deputy head, teachers, lunch time supervisors, parents and governors. He gave two meetings one for the parents and one for the

SEAL launch


The deputy head and I went to a seal launch conference phase 3 about 3 years ago .Training from the SEAL team and consultant helped to drive the programme across the school .This helped us to increase the background knowledge to each of the seven themes .The consultant decided that we should have 2 meetings which included staff/parents/governors and dinner ladies. The consultant provided effective support through training and sharing good practice. He came and carried out several twilight sessions with the staff in summer for SEAL to be launched in September the theme 'New Beginning'. He helped me to draft out letters to parents and inform them of the launch. He also suggested that the advantage of delivering SEAL would lead to other initiatives such as achieving 'Healthy Schools Status'

Delivery in school

After the meetings I distributed all the relevant curriculum resource to all the teachers

so that they could become familiar with them. An appropriate time had been allocated to me within the inset day to briefly support the teaching of each theme.

The head teacher was familiar and had good knowledge of the project and was commited to promoting SEAL .She gave me all the support and time I needed to deliiver this.

He suggested that we should have a 2 day parent workshop on anti-bullying to be run by the school councilors. The school councilors chose activities on bullying and set them up in the hall eg. Parents and children made anti-bullying bracelets from blue wool and thread, there was also an anti-bullying poster competitions, paper chain activities and many more to entertain the children and parents. /sending letters to parents putting posters up around the school/and providing refreshments. These workshops were quiet successful and the children and parents enjoyed working with their children .Some parents asked what SEAL was and I tried to explain it to them through the 'tool box' as I was still unfamiliar with the resources myself .I gave out leaflets containing information about SEAL .

My performance management was also on how well I carried out a SEAL assembly and I was observed by a member of the SLT team. I was very nervous about my observation and I tried to make sure I had the right resources especially the correct SEAL vocabulary. The SEAL assembly involved a short play and use of vocabulary. The whole junior school chanting a line from the assembly and I was afraid that a few y6 children might spoil it .Fortunately the children were so involved in the story that the assembly went as I had planned it. I was pleased that the feedback was good and there were no great issues .

During the year I helped teachers to become familiar with the resources eg. Books, posters ,displays etc. There was a book for y3's and Y4's to share and one book for the Y5 and Y6 to share the book was divided into two sections one for each year group. I liked the resources because all the resources were accessible in the tool box my only problem was that I had to find the music which they had recommended for each assembly. During the year I realised that the staff were gaining confidence as they were becoming more familiar with the resources. We invited parents to our assembly and this was well attended I was pleased that none of the parents had asked me or the headteacher for more information on SEAL. This implied to me that most people understood what SEAL was all about. The school continued to send out letters to inform parents about the new themes every half term that were going to be delivered to their child. It also contained information about the SEAL homework that could be carried out at home with their child.

Finally after one year of the launch SEAL is ongoing in class and assemblies are continuing .Two parent workshop were well attended during anti-bullying week and the school has signed up to the 'anti - bullying charter'. I have begun to work towards Healthy Schools Status and in the future I am going to continue to implement SEAL and link it to the PSHE scheme of work.


The SEAL consultant had told me to carry out a simple end of year assessment questionnaire with each child in school. Children had to respond by either circling 'No 'Yes' or 'I don't know' to the twenty questions that were asked of them. It was suggested that I gave the children the same questionnaire this time next year.

The following year I felt that the SEAL was beginning to embed successfully we followed the same format as the year before with me starting the new half term with an assembly introducing one of the relevant seven themes. We reduced the amount of parent assemblies and decided as a whole staff that we would have one every year instead. I agreed and decided that I would show off the children's work in my 'end of half term assembly'. The anti-bullying workshops were even more popular this year than the previous year. I think that the children and parents were more familiar with SEAL and had enjoyed working with their child in school. We continued to give out certificates and prizes for poster competitions during our valuable celebration time in assemblies.

As the programme was becoming familiar especially to staff, children and parents. I found out that more and more staff were using the 'calming down cards 'and these were being used frequently with children who were 'lively' in class .It was good to see that sometimes the lunch time supervisors initiated from the child's class teacher were being used at dinnertimes too. Staffs have reported that children's behavior seems to be improving. And there has been a reduction of bullying.

I continued changing my SEAL display in the hall continuously every half term using the SEAL vocabulary. The SEAL homework was given to parents for their child to do at home I emphasised to the children that they did not need to bring the homework back to school but it was for them to do with their families.

As suggested by the consultant I gave out the same end of year questionnaire to the children as I had previously done the year before. On completing the questionnaire I set about analysing all the data I had collected .I painstakingly counted and tabulated all the 'yes', 'no' and I don't know' for each child in Y4,5 and 6.

As I was doing part-time and didn't attend staff meetings I didn't do any of the staff activities.

First I decided that I would use line graphs to compare the two years of delivering SEAL and see if I could see any changes. This became very confusing to interpret and finally decided to use the data and plot a 'scatter graph'. This didn't show any clear differences in the child and as the difference was quiet minute I had to calculate the difference and find the percentage difference. So for example one child showed that he was 10% calmer this year than the previous year.

The atmosphere around school showed that SEAL was beginning to be successful and we were showings signs of ownership .Our future aim was to embed the ethos of SEAL into the daily way of life of school.


Assemblies are used to focus learning at the beginning of a theme and celebrate achievement at the end of a theme. Consideration is given to ensure that there is a balance of learning and teaching approaches that enhance the learning of SEAL.Learning opportunities from SEAL are identified and delivered across the curriculum.


Parents/carers have been consulted on what they would like the school to offer them to support their children's SEAL learning.


Staff have a knowledge and understanding of SEAL, they apply it amongst themselves and model it e.g. solution focused approach, conflict resolution, assertive strategies. Staff has high levels of understanding of the social and emotional aspects of learning and appropriate pedagogical approaches to promoting SEAL.

All members of the school community, including mid-day supervisors, are aware of key objectives and approaches to SEAL.


Children have been involved in negotiating and agreeing the class charter. [this will be done

in September New Beginnings] The relevance of SEAL is made explicit to the children.

Children's learning is assessed against intended learning outcomes from SEAL curriculum resource. [planned]

Children can articulate their personal development and discuss their progress. They realise that their skills are relevant across school and at home. Children actively participate in SEAL curriculum activities, including group work. Whole school aspects of SEAL are promoted (e.g. calming down techniques, Peaceful Problem solving) Whole school aspects of SEAL

(e.g. calming down techniques, problem solving, peer mediation) are used consistently through school both inside the classroom and around the school.Children use the Gold set at home.

Key learning is revisited when appropriate, so that children continue to apply it.

Children are involved in monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of their learning of SEAL


Parents/carers are involved in evaluating the impact of SEAL

Parents /carers are aware of SEAL through information sent home, parents meetings and by attending assemblies

SEAL is introduced to parents/carers in workshop sessions or parents evening.

Children's progress in developing SEAL is discussed with parents and carers during parents' evenings and reports

Parents/carers have been consulted on what they would like the school to offer them to

support their children's SEAL learning.


Pupil assessment and tracking is shared across staff to inform planning for whole school

improvement. Evaluation data informs review of learning and teaching:approaches, curriculum content and progress measures.


Research Methods

This chapter is going to be about an overview of the project and I am going to describe the activities that had taken place as well as give explanation why I chose to carry out these activities.

The project started in the third year of our school launching SEAL.Although I had carried out several questionnaires with children and parents it was still unclear to me if SEAL had made any impact.

So I decided to have a meeting with the headteacher and suggested that I wanted to choose a y5 class in school. I came to this conclusion because I felt that this class had three years of having been taught SEAL and the children were also mature enough to provide detail and information about SEAL.

I then asked the headteacher if I could carry out a parent questionnaire and interview a few of them.

I explained to the headteacher that I wanted to interview a group of children from the Y5 class carry out a class parent and teacher questionnire/interview.I also informed her that

after analysing the data the results could be used to update SEF.

The headteacher was very supportive and so I decided to draft out the questions for the questionnaires and interviewes.

I then decided on the dates and gave the draft letters to the secretary who typed them on the school letterhead.Once all the letters were ready and photocopied I told the class teacher that he had to give them out today before he did this I briefly managed to explain to the class about my project and study.The class teacher gave out the class letters and group letters first asking parents for consent for their child to participate in the research project.The following week I waited anxiously for the replies and I frequently asked in the school office to find out if any parents had been asking for more information.By the end of the week I had only 10 replies giving permission for the questionnaires and only 4 from my focus groups.I made a decision to send some reminders and choose 2 children from the other y5 class to be represented in my focus group.I also urged the class teacher to explain to the children that it was very important that they bought the slips back to school.Painstakingly I managed to have all the replies.A few of the children said that their parents couldn't read English so were not sure how to fill the form in.One parent rang me in school asking me further information about the project and when I had explained further she gladly gave permission for her child to participate in the research.

The first stage of designing the research

The second stage of designing the research

Designing the class questionnaire

The first major question I asked the children was 'Can you tell me about some of the things you have learned in SEAL?'This was an open ended question which would help me understand if children could remember anything or everything about SEAL.

The second question I asked was 'I know some ways to calm myself down'.I raised this question because this would inform me if the child could use calming strategies when he or she becomes angry or upset.

The third question which I asked was 'Do you like your class? Yes/No?'

'What do you like about your class?'

was designed to inform me if the children were happy and if they were they could tell me why.

The fourth question asked the children 'Can you tell me some of the good things about your school? Another open ended question which I hoped would encourage children to give me more information about the good things in school as well as 'bad things' in.

The final and fifth question was 'Do you like working in groups/or your own? Explain reasons

This was included to see if children were happy or unhappy about their class environment as children are always working in groups throughout the day.


Can you tell me about some of the things you have learned in SEAL?

In response to this question 11 out of 16 children could tell me something that they could remember about SEAL. Some replies were in detail and some quiet vague.

The answers were:

'To be kind to people and about friendship. Include people in if they don't have any friends.Helping people.What I would like to be in the future.'

'I can't really remember much 'going for goals' and being kind to people.'

'Relationships' This was the SEAL theme of Summer 1

'About being confident'

'Friends ,skills ,manners ,family and life'

'I learned about feelings and what jobs we want.'

'I have learned about relationships, I have learned how to share and lots of other good stuff.'

'I've learnt all the things you should share with a new child in school.I also learnt that if you try something and don't give up you will succeed -'Going for Goals'

'I have learnt about anti-bullying that it isn't very nice to bully people ,friendship and feelings'

'I've learned a lot in school one thing is how to be proud of myself.'

'To persevere is a good thing to do don't give up ,help other people if someone is feeling lonely be their friend.'

'how you are proud of yourself for achieving stuff or how you are feeling about your work.'

'I have learnt that your friends can have different friends as well.'

Need Literature here

All 13 out of 13 children were able to give me examples of how they would calm down.

The answers to the question ' I know some ways to calm myself down.' Included taking deep breaths, counting to ten and walking away, thinking of a good thing, a joke, and sitting down.

Need literature here

When asked if the children liked their class 14 out of 16 said 'yes'

The reason why they liked their class was:

'because everybody is nice to me and all of my friends play with me.The teachers are OK they are really kind and nice'

'My class is funny and kind'

'Funny ,friendly,sporty,colourful and kind' (using vocabulary seal)

'It has most of my friends in and my teacher is sporty so we do P.E. a lot and he's a good teacher.'

'I like the teacher because he's nice and friendly ,and also I like the classmates most of them are friendly.'

'friends my teacher and everything'

'……the class is fun to work…..'

'everybody is friendly and kind ..they share and they are funny'

'I like my teacher and my friends a lot.I like doing Art and Science best.I think I like working with …….best.She listens and has good ideas.'

'…….we have a star chart if you get 20 you get to do something fun'

'… chart ….watch a movie if you get 20'

'….the teacher, the lessons, the pupils, the books we have'

'….like my friends..'

'Friendly children, fun work'

'so fun you learn stuff if you don't understand we play a game about thing you're not sure about'

'the people the toys games'

(Find Friends literature)

When asked what the good things were in class they answered

'…….really nice friends'

'fun lessons'

'……sports ,colourful uniform…

'..sports equipment we can play cricket … is small'

'……teachers and lessons'

…..the subjects and the layout .playground and teachers'

'the good things are how the school is changing.'

'its clean the teachers are good …playground is nice ,classrooms are quiet big'

'….like going outside ..enjoy having a small class …like singing assemblies…'

'…..the field ,the school, the way they are organized'

'the activities and the football and the computers'

'…we have rotas we now go to the fields I made some good friends….'

'…..go to the fields we do talent shows and have fun P.E ….

'…our equipment for P.E. ….'

' get team points…'

'the people the toy games'

{find liking teachers quotes' liking pe

This is what the children said about working groups and working on their own 11 said groups and 3 said on their own,

'….groups ...only with friends …so I can talk to them …but none of the teachers lets you be with their friends'

'….groups… we can think of more things and because I sometimes can't think of things .'

'…groups ,,,you can share ideas and work together'

'….groups because instead of a few ideas you can have lots of them'

'..groups ..more fun ..can tell each other ideas and come up with lots of things'

'groups… can share ideas and give opinions to each other'.

'groups …..I like to talk ..but on my own I can concentrate.'

'groups ..more fun ..we need to learn to work with other people'

'…partners can combine your ideas ..also own your own is quicker and you can use all your ideas,'

'..own ..then nobody can copy ..'

'..own no one can copy you'

'..own home I always do everything alone ..'

'…work on my own because I can concentrate …'

look at groups and working independently

Some of the children had finished answering the questions within 10 minutes either they rushed it or were not interested in the questions.So I decided on question 6 and suggested that they could write anything they wanted to about SEAL.The answers were very interesting :

'SEAL is…we need to do more….during circle time'

'I don't like SEAL assemblies every year they are the same ..boring.

We hardly did it in Y4 …like SEAL but it's not the best lesson'

'like SEAL SEAL assemblies …like 'stop bullying' workshops'

'it's all about working together and learning,it's not about who won in a game and who lost … having fun ..laughing when you feel happy for someone altogether'

'not to call people names because it might offend them'


I briefly explained the objective of my questionnaire and asked them to fill in 5 questions.

Here are some of the replies I received from some of the parents:

Question 1-Are you aware that your child has been involved in SEAL programme.

I had 6 replies back and they were:All the answers were 'Yes'

Two parents wrote :

'Yes there have been events at school and occasional homework'

'Yes ,but am not clear with what it is about.'

Question 2 asked 'Have you attended our anti-bullying workshops?'

4 parents said 'Yes' , one said 'No' and the remaining said:

'Not sure ,I have attended the SEAL afternoons there is element of anti-bullying i.e.drawing a poster.'

Question 3 was 'Have you attended our SEAL assemblies?

All of them said 'Yes' (bullying is a concern refrence?)

Question 4 asked 'Have you and your child completed any SEAL

homework ?

5 out of 6 parents said they completed the homework.

Question 5 asked 'What would you like the school to offer you to support your child's learning?'

Their response was:

'I would like you to help my child with school work.She needs..extra help.'

'Information about:

'Talking to your child about coping with 'growing up ' and physical/emotional change.'

'Mature ways to deal with /responding to situations /disappointments - information for children for parents to reinforce.'


'…more notice for assemblies, workshops …'

'tell us what's going on with my child and keep giving us the information.'

'I think SEAL is a good idea …I haven't enjoyed the SEAL days I have attended .I feel the range of tasks could be varied ,my son didn't want to do a poster or make a person.We enjoyed playing the games -could someone organise some co-operative games during the afternoon?

I would like the school to continue to support children in their social and emotional development.'


Previously before SEAL was launched all teachers were given 'Brain gym' training which contained unusual thinking strategies. This was designed to get both sides of their brain working. It encouraged children to challenge and develop their thinking skills in a different way, thereby extending their learning and achieving their potential.Teachers used this enthusiastically for some time and then like everything else it became less popular until the launch of SEAL. This programme suggested the use of Brain gym so to improve quality of learning I decided to relaunch this by photocopying a pack for each class. (quote of brain gym here)


I chose two teachers to interview in my school one from lower juniors and one from upper juniors. This would hopefully give me some insight as to what the children and teachers feel and I could compare the younger children against the older children.

First I asked them to participate in the research after we had launched SEAL by completing a questionnaire and then this year I asked them to carryout an interview.

Question 1.How do you feel about teaching SEAL in class?


She marked herself 8 and said:

'I don't feel I give it the planning time it deserves'

Question 2 .Do you feel that SEAL has had any impact on the children in your class?

'some of them'

Question 3 : Are there fewer names in the incident book this year?

'No -I have a group of naughty boys who are hard to teach -led on by each other.'

Question 4:What in - school processes have helped you to implement SEAL effectively?

'Help and advice from SEAL coordinator and the impact of her assemblies.'

The teacher who taught the upper years answered to

Question 1 answer was:

'8' on the scale … 'and integrated the themes into everyday classroom life'

Question 2's reply was:

'Yes - they are more able to express their feelings and empathise with others'

Question 3 was

'Yes - but perhaps more importantly, when an incident does arise ,the children are better equipped to deal with it i.e. they understand their own feelings better and are able to express their emotions.'

Question 4's answer was

'assembly time on SEAL themes helps to refocus so everyone is working on similar themes .These common messages can then be referenced if and when a problem does arise.'


I chose two parents who I frequently spoke to in school and I was confident that they would comply in helping me to interview them.

It was convenient that their children were in Year

I chose a familiar location and explained to the parents briefly about my research.

They wanted me to translate and scribe for them as they didn't feel confident to do it themselves.

My questions were:

Question 1 'Are you are aware that your child has been involved in a SEAL Programme'

Parent A said 'Yes'

Parent B said

Question 2 answers were:

Parent A said 'Yes twice -First time not too good I did not know what SEAL was about ..enjoyed ….

Parent B said

Question 3's answers were:

Parent A said 'Yes'

Parent B said

Question 4 replies were

Parent A said 'last year did all ….this year only once ..don't need to return homework'

Parent B said

Question 5 answered

Parent A replied

'Help in writing ..continue with one to one tutoring …..issuing her child with a bump note when he hurts himself.'

Parent B said


I wanted to choose six children I thought had changed after the introduction of SEAL. Unfortunately most of them didn't want to participate and so I had to choose some others who had shown some changes.

After receiving their permission slips I chose a familiar and comfortable place to carry out the interviews.







'Nationally we have seen evidence that the social and emotional behavioural skills programme being promoted by the Primary National Strategy(SEAL)b,and about to be piloted within the Secondary National Strategy(SEBS),are proving successful in developing these crucial skills and attitude and 'growing good learners'.(DfES)

Rsponse to the Group Questions

Group Interviews