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Recent research: NICE guidance on social and emotional wellbeing in secondary education

NICE is the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence - "the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health." Although their guidance applies particularly to England and Wales, the opinions they come up with are very carefully weighed and can be of use to health (and education) professionals wherever they work.

Last month NICE published guidance " ... for all those who have a responsibility for the social and emotional wellbeing of young people in secondary education. This includes teachers, support staff, governors and professionals with public health as part of their remit working in education (including the independent sector), local authorities, the NHS and the wider public, voluntary and community sectors."  NICE has already published similar guidance for children in primary schools.

The paper states "Social and emotional wellbeing includes being happy, confident and in control, with the ability to solve and cope with problems and have good relationships with other people." and goes on to make six recommendations which cover "strategy, the key principles and conditions, working in partnership with parents, families and young people, the curriculum, and training and professional development."

The 8 page quick reference guide comments that social and emotional wellbeing encompasses:

  1. Happiness, confidence and not feeling depressed (emotional wellbeing). 
  2. A feeling of autonomy and control over one’s life, problem-solving skills, resilience, attentiveness and a sense of involvement with others (psychological wellbeing). 
  3. The ability to have good relationships with others and to avoid disruptive behaviour, delinquency, violence or bullying (social wellbeing).

Their four summary bullet points are:

  • Secondary education establishments should have access to the specialist skills, advice and support they require.
  • Practitioners should have the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to develop young people’s social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Secondary education establishments should provide a safe environment which nurtures and encourages young people’s sense of self-worth, reduces the threat of bullying and violence and promotes positive behaviour.
  • Social and emotional skills education should be tailored to the developmental needs of young people.

There is specific mention made of the responsibility this puts on Primary Care Trusts, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, and the Voluntary Sector, and this information is enlarged on in the 45 page full guidance document and in a series of background information papers.


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