Tags: Behaviour management | Behaviour Management | Classroom Teacher | Communication and social skills | CPD provision | Emotional Literacy | Head of Year | Learning Mentor | PSHE & Citizenship Coordinator | SEAL Coordinator | Teaching and Learning | Teaching materials

Toby Wood and Nick Guest describe how they have encouraged implementation of the SEAL materials in Peterborough primary schools.

Contained in the curriculum materials for Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) is a quote from Galvin, Miller and Nash which sums up the reason why they are needed: ‘Behaviour,’ it says, ‘can be an area where we expect so much and teach so little’.

Any teacher will tell you that when he or she slumps into an armchair at home wondering how on earth he or she can face school the next day, the likelihood that the anxiety, angst and even anger has been caused by that most used and misused word – Behaviour. As Gina Yashere once said in one of her celebrated stand-up routines, “I’ve got two words to say to you child – BE and HAVE!”

Staple diet

In Peterborough local authority, we welcomed the SEAL materials because we recognised that they could become part of a staple, balanced diet with the potential of making a significant contribution to the health of our schools.

Although Ofsted has not identified behaviour as an issue in any of our 60 primary schools, this does not mean that ‘behaviour’ is not an issue.

Behaviour is:

  • what you feel
  • who you are
  • how you act and react
  • how you present to others.


Since becoming involved in the delivery of the SEAL materials to staff in schools, we have constantly repeated the mantra that behaviour should not be thought of as ‘dealing with naughty boys’ but as one of the cornerstones of a healthy school’s climate.

Behaviour is also about the expectations in play with  that micro-society called a school. This is particularly important in a city such as Peterborough where, in some of our schools, 20 different languages can be heard in the playground. Behaviour being presented as ‘the ways we do things’ can be a valuable and powerful introduction to life in a new land. Even as adults, if we were to be suddenly transplanted to another country, one of the ways we would measure the success of our own integration would be whether we were behaving in an appropriate and accepted way.

Avoiding hard work

The implementation of SEAL should not be time-consuming or challenging (a euphemism for hard work!). It should also be not that different from what is happening already.

Over the past two years, we have worked with the lead behaviour professionals and assisted them to implement the materials in school. Our training programme has attempted to take account of the messages contained with the SEAL materials themselves, as well as those coming from individual schools. We have supplemented SEAL training sessions with workshops on topics such as: managing lunchtimes, classroom management, rewards and sanctions and attendance and teacher coaching.

We are continuously adapting and reshaping what we are doing.

Summing up

The way we would sum up Peterborough’s philosophy is that:

We expect children to improve their handwriting skills bit by bit and encourage its development by showing children a clear progression. When it comes to teaching handwriting, we are patient and sensitive and we recognise that improvement will be gradual and at an individual pace. We also accept that everyone will eventually develop their own personal style. The teaching of behaviour should follow a similar model.

Toby Wood is deputy head of Peterborough’s Pupil Referral Service (primary), and Nick Guest is Excellence in Cities manager.

Keys to success

In Peterborough, we believe that our initial success in implementing the SEAL materials has been based on a few strikingly simple principles:

  • Strong and purposeful steering group. Ours is made up of representatives from the Educational Psychology Service, the PSHE Team, CAMHS, the Neuro-developmental Service, School Improvement and the Pupil Referral Service. All these elements co-exist well; yet bring their own distinctive perspective to how the materials can be implemented.
  • Knowledge of schools. Peterborough is a small unitary authority and all our schools can be reached within 20 minutes by car. This helps us to be extremely responsive to their needs.
  • Whole school commitment. Schools need to realise that SEAL is not just about curriculum materials; it is a toolkit to improve and develop school culture and ethos.
  • Building on good practice. Many of our schools have a strong PSHE programme, which needs to be built on.
  • Identification of staff. Once a school’s senior management team has decided to give the SEAL material a high priority, it is important that a senior member of staff (lead behaviour professional) not only leads its development, but is seen to do so.
  • Operational. The implementation of SEAL in schools requires thought to be given to putting up displays, organising the distribution of materials, timetabling and using assemblies.
  • Local authority support. Support needs to be available for monitoring, support, facilitating networking and signposting.
  • Part of a school evaluation process. It can be an integral part of a school’s SEF!
  • Sustainability. Review what is happening, throw out the bad, keep the good, further develop your own school’s ethos and identity.

This article first appeared in Raising Achievement Update – Oct 2006

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