Seeing eye-to-eye: evaluation of Family SEAL, a school-home learning partnership

Downey, Chris and Williams, Clare (2009) Seeing eye-to-eye: evaluation of Family SEAL, a school-home learning partnership At 22nd International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI 2009). 04 - 07 Jan 2009.


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The Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme was launched in English Primary Schools in 2004 with the purpose of developing affective skills conducive to a positive learning environment at school. A relatively recent addition to the Primary SEAL programme is Family SEAL which seeks to engage parents as partners in developing children’s social and emotional competence through a series of weekly workshops. The Family SEAL programme consists of seven hour-long workshops led by two teacher facilitators. Each workshop is followed directly by an hour-long activity session in which parents are provided with opportunities to consolidate skill development strategies in the company of their children before being encouraged to apply the experience in their home settings.
Implementing Family SEAL puts a strain on the participating school's resources with requirements in the form of rooming, materials and staff release time for the two facilitators in order to plan, prepare and deliver each session. There is also the potential disruption caused by withdrawing children from their lessons for an hour each week to participate in the activity sessions. Thus school leaders and managers require evidence that the programme is effective.
This paper gives the background to a pilot Family SEAL programme implemented by one school district in the south of England in six primary schools (with children in the age range 4-11). The school district provided support to the participating schools by employing an external facilitator to work with staff from each school. The external facilitators were experienced practitioners from the fields of educational psychology, family health and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and all were experienced in working with parents. During the pilot phase multiple methods were employed to evaluate the impact of the programme. This paper reports evidence gained from surveys of children's emotional literacy completed by parents and class teachers. The survey data is supplemented by evidence gained from evaluation questionnaires and focus-groups of participating parents.
The survey evidence revealed that class teachers reported larger mean post-programme gains in children’s social and emotional literacy than did parents. Mean gains were particularly high for those children that had previously been identified by teachers as raising cause for concern in their social and emotional development. For this group of concern children teachers reported significant post-programme gains in all five survey domains (self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation and social skills). Teachers also reported significant post-programme gains in self-awareness for those children not previously identified as causing concern in their social and emotional development.
Whilst mean gains reported by parents were smaller and generally non-significant, it is clear from the evaluation questionnaire data that parents valued the programme highly. The key elements of the programme valued by parents was the opportunity afforded to deepen social networks with other parents and to have quality time with their child away from the demands of other children and family members at home.
These results would suggest that Family SEAL has the potential to be a useful tool for school improvement with gains to be had in the quality of the learning environment in the classroom - a key objective of the SEAL programme.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Venue - Dates: 22nd International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI 2009), 2009-01-04 - 2009-01-07
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ePrint ID: 65003
Date :
Date Event
5 January 2009Published
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2009
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 17:17
Further Information:Google Scholar

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