There is no doubt that if our children are to be successful in school and life, they must have excellent teachers and high-quality instruction. But scientifically-based research now supports what parents and teachers have long known: Social and emotional factors also have a huge impact on academic performance.
Educational settings have the potential to engage young people in ways that help them define who they are, how and why they are important, how they should act and what they can become.
Cairns Catholic Education believes it has an obligation to help children acquire the skills they need to become productive and contributing members of our society. As part of this responsibility, schools must ensure that children are well trained in academic subjects and also given the social-emotional skills that build character and lay the foundation of good citizenship.
Scholastic achievement must go hand-in-hand with the acquisition of traits such as honesty, cooperation, fairness, respect for others, kindness, trustworthiness, the ability to resolve conflict, and the insight to understand why such character traits are important.
Catholic Education in the Cairns Diocese recognises the importance of integrating social, emotional, and academic factors for effective learning.
What is SEL?
Social and Emotional Learning is a process for helping people develop the fundamental social and emotional competencies essential for wellbeing and therefore, for life effectiveness.
SEL develops the skills to recognise and manage emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations effectively.
These skills develop the emotional literacy of individuals and school communities. Emotional literacy provides the foundation for academic achievement, maintenance of good mental and physical health, quality relationships and responsible participation in a democratic society.
These skills are a bulwark against bullying, peer pressure, disrespectful behaviour toward adults, dangerous risk-taking around sex, drugs, and alcohol – all those negative behaviours that threaten children’s well-being and schools’ orderly functioning.
Students with social skills and emotional awareness do better both socially and academically. They become attached to school and motivated to engage in their studies, work well with other children and demonstrate good citizenship, and handle the stresses demands of growing up in today’s complex society and daily responsibilities more effectively.
To be effective, these skills need to be developed within the context of caring, engaged, participatory learning environments.
What does SEL do?
Satisfying the social and emotional needs of students does more than prepare them to learn. It actually increases their capacity for learning for school, work, play, life. SEL provides schools with a framework for preventing problems and promoting students’ well-being and success. It does so by improving the social and emotional climate of schools and the social and emotional competence of students.
Positive outcomes of Social Emotional Learning:
- Academically successful
- Mentally and physically healthy
- Positive social relationships
- Prepared to join the workforce
- Responsible social engagement
How does it do it?
SEL develops young people’s capabilities:
- Emotional resilience (emotional awareness, empathy, emotion regulation, behaviour control)
- Positive mindset for achievement (academic confidence, work persistence, work organisation)
- Getting along (social confidence, friendship making, conflict resolution, rule following, collaboration)
- Social responsibility (honesty, respect, fairness, caring, citizenship)
These capabilities in turn benefit all learning and impact the capacity for wellbeing and happiness of individuals and communities.
The SEL strategy in our Catholic schools
A process for helping individuals and communities develop the fundamental knowledge, skills and values that are necessary for learner wellbeing and life effectiveness has developed within the Cairns Diocese into a comprehensive SEL strategy involving and impacting students, staff and parents.
The SEL Strategy is a direct, intentional and systemic approach to invigorating learning, nurturing wellbeing, building relationship quality and connectivity, and strengthening the effectiveness of the processes, procedures and practices of the systems within which people work, learn and live.
The SEL strategy is preventative and interventional in nature and guides school communities to effectively influence achievement and wellbeing.
Since 2001 almost all of the Diocese’s schools have implemented the framework and programme of YOU CAN DO IT! Education, authored by Professor Michael E Bernard. YCDI! Education provides school communities with a developmentally sequenced curriculum to enable young people to acquire the SEL competencies.
All schools implementing YCDI! Education have made a commitment to ongoing professional development of all staff to strengthen staff capacity to assist all young people acquire the necessary SEL competencies foundational to academic achievement and success in work and life.
The Diocese’s schools value families. It is understood that parent and family involvement increases student achievement and success and psychological and social well-being; therefore working with parents to strengthen family capabilities to positively influence their children is a priority.