of AcE/SEAD programme in Birmingham 2008 (by
Anita Soni, June 2010 on behalf of Martin Hawthorne, Birmingham Training Team)
The importance of social, emotional
learning and dispositions to learn has been highlighted in Government
publications (DfES, 2001, DfES, 2004). In addition the role of social and
emotional learning can be tracked through the development of the curriculum for
young children from the Desirable Learning Outcomes (DfEE 1996) to the Early
Years Foundation Stage (DCSF, 2008).Whilst there has
been a focus on social, emotional and dispositional learning, Pascal &
Bertram (2000) note that identification, assessment and development of this
aspect of learning can be poor and practitioners often express uncertainty in
this area. Pascal & Bertram (2000) developed the Accounting Early
for Life Long Learning (AcE) project in 1999, as an attempt to address the need
for materials to support children’s social, emotional and dispositional learning.
Pascal & Bertram (2002) identify the effective learner;
‘….as a child who can sustain their
ability to explore the world in an open, critical, creative and joyful way in
order to extend their knowledge and understanding.’
Through their work with
practitioners and review of professional and research literature on effective
learning, Pascal & Bertram (2002, 2008) identified four core elements of
the effective learner:
competence and self concept;
- communication and language development.
Within each domain
are 4 to 5 elements as shown in the table below.
- Language exploration
- Language agency
- Language range
- Language processing
Dispositions to Learn
- Self motivation
- Emotional literacy
- Positive self esteem
- Effective relationships
- Self worth
The cohort of
children are ragged initially, and then a focus group of children is selected.
These children are then observed a number of times to highlights their
strengths and areas for development within the four domains. Simultaneously
parents are asked to observe their child, in the way that suits the family,
possibly taking photographs at home, to allow them to share their picture of
their child. Once this has been completed, there is a Parent Conference between
the practitioner, the parent and child (dependent on age) to discuss the
child’s strengths and areas for development. This is transferred into an action
plan that is carried out both in the setting and in the child’s home, that is
then reviewed after a suitable period of time. Thus family and setting work
together to develop and improve the child’s skills further to become an
In 2008, Birmingham
Local Authority was given a grant with the purpose of ‘to help improve the
skills and expertise of early years practitioners to support children’s social
development.’ The funding was
to enable the early years workforce:
access appropriate and relevant training and development opportunities so that
they are better able to support children; to
interact effectively and to
have positive dispositions and attitudes to learning
increase practitioner knowledge and understanding so that, working with and
engaging with parents, they are better equipped to support children’s social
and emotional development
facilitate a culture of continuous professional development
it was decided that Accounting Early for Lifelong Learning (AcE) could offer a
way of supporting the SEAD project. Nineteen setting embarked on the AcE
project in October 2008.
Thirty four practitioners
completed questionnaires before and after the training held in January - March 2008 to show the development
of their confidence and skills. Practitioners also completed questionnaires in July 2008 to look at the delayed impact of the training. Twenty
parents were also interviewed in some of the settings either
individually or in small groups in July/September 2008.This resulted in both qualitative and quantative data on the;
The quantative data on parents and practitioners confidence and skills is illustrated in graphs that can be emailed on request.
- immediate and delayed impact of training on practitioners with recommendations for further training
- impact on the parents in terms of confidence, skills in recognising their child's development and value of the programme to themselves and their children.
comments on how their confidence developed are illuminative:
- Highlighted how I didn’t pay as much
attention like his play – going about things in a different way – turn things
around a bit more
- You got 1 to 1 and you get the
pinpointing of the difficulties so it’s more specific and you can see what you
can do to improve it.
- It was better afterward as it made me
focus on what I was doing with him and can see how well developed he is but I
did know what he was good at already.
comments on skills in recognising their child’s development and learning show
how parenting skills developed:
- Looking at things differently now, and
play differently, for example I put the activity out now and sit and interact
with B more and ask different questions to get him to talk and to get the kids
to talk to each other. I turn the television off more. I used to do the washing
up as that was important but now I interact as that’s more important.
- Because I have had feedback and the
action plan I know what to push and so now when I go to the shop I make him
talk, in a nice way, it’s building him up and taking the time for him to do it.
also to comment on the value of the programme for themselves as parents.
- Opened my eyes to the way to do
things. I don’t think parents realise about PS II. I’ve got two dogs now as
they play with the kids too, and I get the older ones to do different things
with the little ones rather than all being on their own.
- I let him do things himself more, like
changing his clothes, drinking, otherwise I did everything for him
- I wouldn’t have known what to do. I am
more communicating with him now and can understand him more and I read to him
comments on the impact of the programme on their child included:
- He’s got a lot more confident in
little things, for example he used to be terrified of swimming but went to a
pool party and it took 20 minutes to get him in and now he wants to have a pool
party but I had to build it up, put my toe in until he was jumping in at the
end. I wouldn’t have tried for so long before, you know at telling him.
- It’s made the world of difference,
he’s suddenly found his feet and his voice
- K is a lot more willing to tell me
stuff about school, like he was so excited about the trip, whereas before he
didn’t want to go to school, but because I spoke to him about the trip before
it, he was OK. He likes school a lot now before he used to cry a lot and not
want to go.
- L’s come out of herself, more
confident and got more social skills with other children. She mixes more, she
always used to be on her own and was crying. I used to go home crying leaving
her here as she was on her own.