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Developing Socio-emotional Skills

A comprehensive, practical  guide for anyone who is looking to embed the development of socio-emotional skills in their work with young people.​

In this section, we look at different ways in which we might approach the development of SESD, and the range of interventions available to practitioners. 

Theories and ideas

A series of articles and reflective activities designed to link practice with the theories and ideas which inform socio-emotional skills development.

Adult Rated Youth Behaviour (ARYB)

The ARYB has been designed to measure socio-emotional skills in young people. The tool maps across the six domains  featured in the Outcomes Framework in Section 1.  It is recommended the tool be used over a period of 2 months, and no less than 4 hours of face-to-face work. ​

See below for an overview, or access a printable version of the ARYB questionnaire here

CYI, DCMS, Q-Turn, (2022)

Reflection point: share the handbook and measurement tool with your colleagues. Is this a resource you could implement in your practice?​

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Youth Rating of Socio-Emotional Skills (YRSS)

 If you have already looked at the ARYB, the YRSS will look familiar, again it is designed to measure socio-emotional skills, although this time the tool is completed by the young person. ​

​See below for an overview, or access a printable version of the YRSS questionnaire here.

CYI, DCMS, Q-Turn (2022)

Reflection point - Share the handbook and measurement tool with your colleagues. Is this a resource you could implement in your practice? Are you using other tools to measure the socio-emotional skills in the tool kit. How do they compare?​

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Out of School Time Tools

In the field of Social-Emotional Learning, CASEL are a well-regarded organization. Renowned for championing and delivering SEL across the USA, a significant part of their strategy is linking SEL in schools with the wider contexts in which young people are developing. A degree of interpretation is required to help make sense of the terminology they use. For example, ‘Out of School Time’ (OST) can be likened to informal/non-formal youth provisions, in the UK. Once we get past these nominal differences CASEL provide a wealth of access to resources for developing SEL in informal/non-formal youth provisions. It is also worth noticing the emphasis they place on OST developing relationships between the school, home and community to be most effective.​, (2022)

Reflection Point – Open the link provided and scroll down to the section on Community Partnerships. Here you will find tools and resources that help you to begin to map your youth provision with SEL. You will also find some helpful suggestions for project work with young people which can develop SEL. You might also find that some of the resources on this page (there’s quite a lot), are helpful for thinking about connecting with other organisations and developing an SEL strategy for your work. ​

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A Relationship Framework for Youth Work Practice

In this article, Hennel invites us to think about the idea of relational practice, a cornerstone of youth work provision. In essence, relational youth work is about building positive relationships which provide opportunities to learn about ourselves, our relationships and the world around us. For Hennel, there is a recognisible link between relational youth work practice and the development of social- emotional skills. ​

Hennell.  K, (2022)

Reflection point – How do the principles of relational youth work relate to the development of social emotional skills? Could you develop a social emotional learning framework based on the principles of relational youth work?​

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The Art of Helping Others

Out of print but worth dipping into if you can get hold of a copy, Smith and Smith’s text, is concerned with how practitioners approach their encounters with young people with a commitment to fostering learning and wellbeing as a way of being with young people, not acting upon them; working with young people in ways that reflect integrity, and character which is synonymous with the human growth and flourishing. ​

Smith, H and Smith, M.K. (2008)

Reflection point – Central to Smith and Smith’s discussion, is the integrity and character of the practitioner who work with young people. As a practitioner reflect on your own values, how do they influence your work with young people? Does your character as a person facilitate SESD in young people? ​

Further reading

A selection of articles, books and websites offering additional resources designed to deepen your appreciation of socio-emotional skills development.

Autism Toolbox - Social and Emotional Wellbeing

A brief introduction to social-emotional development for young people with autism.

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Social Emotional Learning Activities

A collection of activities/approaches designed for formal education, but easily adaptable to youth work provision with a focus on groups work particularly.

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Professional and/or Helping Relationships

This is a  comprehensive standalone course free to access course offered by the OpenLearn, part of the Open University. A helpful overview of the qualities and attitudes which support the development of ‘helping’ relationships.

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Social Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL)

SEAL was part of a UK government strategy , providing resources and guidance on social emotional learning development in primary and secondary schools. Although the programme is no longer running, this site provides a lot of resources to help develop social emotional development across education provisions.

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Helping relationships - The encyclopaedia of pedagogy and informal education

A useful summary of key thinkers associated with the concept of helping relationships.

Smith, Mark K. (2008)

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5 Social Emotional Strategies for Teenagers - Thoughtful Learning

A quick guide to understanding and developing socio-emotional skills including some useful strategies for your practice setting

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Building Relations - Youth Link Scotland

A helpful overview and series of short cases studies which show how through youth provision it is possible to develop social-emotional skills.

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Measuring Socio-emotional Skill Development

Our helpful online hub exploring ways to measure socio-skills development.

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