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Dowling, Katherine; Barry, Margaret M
Implementing School-based Social and Emotional Learning Programmes: Recommendations from Research
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The promotion of children and adolescentsÂ’ mental health and wellbeing is essential to ensure healthy development and positive social and health outcomes in adulthood. 1 School-based social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions are proven to be one of the most effective universal mental health promotion strategies for young people demonstrating positive outcomes including; improving social emotional skills, mental health and well-being and academic outcomes as well as reducing negative health and social behaviours. 1-5 While the evidence in support of school-based SEL programmes is compelling, inconsistent and variable levels of implementation can impact negatively on programme outcomes. 6, 7 Implementation quality refers to the degree to which programmes are implemented as intended by the programme developers. 6, 8 Strong evidence indicates that implementation quality is a critical predictor of programme outcomes and the overall effectiveness of an intervention. 7, 9, 10 In other words, when implementation quality of a programme is high, intervention effects are much stronger and when implementation quality is poor, programmes may fail to achieve intended outcomes. To increase the likelihood of producing successful outcomes, programmes not only need to be underpinned by strong evidence-based approaches, but need to be implemented with high-quality as well. 6, 7 In Ireland, few SEL programmes have been developed and evaluated, particularly for the older adolescent population and there is a lack of research assessing how implementation quality impacts on programme outcomes. This absence of information on implementation could be detrimental to the future success and sustainability of SEL programmes. The MindOut programme is a school-based SEL programme for post-primary school students (15-18 years) designed to be delivered by teachers through the SPHE curriculum in Ireland and is based on CASELÂ’s five core competencies for SEL (Fig. 1).11
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