Social and emotional early development: a programme to develop children’s social skills and help prevent bullying

While dealing with bullying when it occurs in schools is extremely important, we are increasingly finding that prevention is better than cure. Ensuring that schools create a culture in which all pupils develop empathy and social skills, especially among so-called ‘bystanders’ (those pupils who are neither the bully or the bullied but whose behaviour can strongly influence both) may therefore help to prevent future bullying behaviours.

The Social and Emotional Early Development (SEED) programme was developed as an intervention to improve the social and emotional skills of primary school age children and build their resilience and empathy, resulting in more positive social interactions. The programme is based on principles of social and emotional learning, teaching thinking skills and gamification, and consists of ten discreet activities which encourage reflection through collaborative group work, prompted by a scenario depicted through a cartoon.

In this presentation we will present the programme which was initially run in three local authorities in England, and look at its impact on pupils’ behaviours and personal and social development. To do this we used a quasi-experimental design in which schools were randomly assigned to receive the intervention at different times.