Promoting Emotional Health, Well-being and Resilience in Primary Schools

The Minister for Education and Skills asked the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) to provide expert advice on ‘what works’ in building the emotional resilience of children in primary schools in Wales and what the Welsh Government might do to support this. The PPIW worked with Professor Robin Banerjee and Professor Colleen McLaughlin from the University of Sussex to produce a synthesis of research and policy evaluations relating to school-based strategies to promote emotional health among primary school pupils, and make evidence-based recommendations for Welsh Government policy regarding a national strategy in this area.

Research shows that schools matter greatly in terms of children’s emotional health, as well as their academic achievement. School-based activities have the potential to make significant and lasting positive impacts on young people’s well-being. A variety of high-quality and evidence-based programmes provide excellent guidance and resources for supporting school-based activities in this area. However, our report argues that supporting young people’s emotional health effectively in schools requires thinking and practice that treat the task as complex. As well as careful planning of exactly how new activities will be implemented, the authors argue for the embedding of approaches to social and emotional learning within wider school systems and the broader pedagogical approach to teaching and learning across the curriculum. Rather than simply selecting one or more programmes and rolling them out, what is needed is a carefully and comprehensively supported initiative that enables schools to plan, deliver and review different ways of taking forward work in the area of children’s emotional health.

The report makes 16 recommendations on how to develop a carefully planned and well-supported approach to social and emotional learning that is integrated with core pedagogical principles and situated within a connected school.