Unlocking the potential in every child.

Research published last month can be downloaded here. This investigation into the impact that different aspects of a child’s social, emotional and behavioural functioning have on their educational outcome makes interesting, if unsurprising, reading.

The key findings are these:

  • Children with higher levels of emotional, behavioural, social, and school wellbeing, on average, have higher levels of academic achievement and are more engaged in school, both concurrently and in later years.
  • Children with better emotional wellbeing make more progress in primary school and are more engaged in secondary school.
  • Children with better attention skills experience greater progress across the four key stages of schooling in England. Those who are engaged in less troublesome behaviour also make more progress and are more engaged in secondary school.
  • Children who are bullied are less engaged in primary school, whereas those with positive friendships are more engaged in secondary school.
  • As children move through the school system, emotional and behavioural wellbeing become more important in explaining school engagement, while demographic and other characteristics become less important.
  • Relationships between emotional, behavioural, social, and school wellbeing and later educational outcomes are generally similar for children and adolescents, regardless of their gender and parents’ educational level.

Surely this type of finding can olny add to the justification for any effort and expense that a school goes to in order to meet pupils’ social, emotional and behavioural needs.

It is particularly interesting that attentional skills have been highlighted as a factor across that age ranges. I hope, amongst other things, findings such as this will encourage the development of strategies and interventions to support and develop attentional skills. Many pupils have weaknesses in this area of functioning, not just those diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, and it can significantly impede their learning. Improved teacher awareness of the role of attention in learning and new strategies and interventions in schools would certainly help many children.


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