Background The Social and Emotional Education and Development (SEED) intervention process aimed to improve the social and emotional wellbeing (SEW) of primary school pupils. The iterative process involved three components: 1. questionnaire completion: 2. providing benchmarked feedback to all staff; and 3. All staff involved in reflexive discussion, led by educational psychologists, to facilitate selection and implementation of evidence-based initiatives (resource guide provided) to address pupils’ SEW needs.
Methods A stratified randomised controlled trial involved 37 schools across Scotland and was conducted between 2013 and 2018. This involved 2639 pupils across two cohorts. At baseline the younger cohort were aged 4–5 and the older cohort were aged 8–9. After a one year gap, to enable commencement of action plans, three waves of follow-up data were collected annually. The primary outcome was the Total Difficulties score from the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) at Follow-up 3, when the younger pupils were aged 8–9 and the older pupils were aged 12–13. Secondary outcomes included all five SDQ subscales.
Hierarchical regression analysis allowing for clustering at school learning community level was conducted in the statistical package, ‘R’. Missing data was handled using repeated measures.
Results The primary outcome, pupils’ SDQ Total Difficulties at Follow-up 3, showed a statistically significant result in the desired direction: −1.334 (–1.918, –0.751), p<0.001. (Please note these are preliminary results and are still to be formally published, whilst robust, final figures may vary slightly after reviewers’ comments). All five SDQ subscales also showed beneficial and statistically significant results.
Subgroup analysis showed that all results were stronger for the older cohort, particularly the older boys. The results were significant for both affluent and deprived pupils.
Discussion The SEED intervention process led to beneficial results for the social and emotional wellbeing of intervention schools’ pupils. The Scottish Government are actively planning a SEED type of process for Scotland, we hope to extend that throughout the UK. Longer term outcomes can be explored using routine data.
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