Social and emotional learning (SEL) programmes help children and adults to develop the fundamental skills for life effectiveness. SEL helps students to become good communicators, cooperative members of a team, effective leaders, and caring, concerned members of their communities. It teaches them how to set and achieve goals and how to persist in the face of challenges. By increasing their capacity for learning it helps to reduce the achievement gap between high- and low-achieving youth. The present project aimed to explore the implementation of SEL programmes within vocational education and after-school settings in the different partner countries. By sharing their learning, they wished to identify the transferability of such programmes between different settings and the kind of training needed for VET teachers in order to conduct SEL courses.
3-day visits were undertaken to each partner country for which the hosting partner organized a programme of lectures, visits and meetings, discussion sessions and cultural activities. In participating, visiting partners learnt about the implementation of SEL within each country and could discuss the process with invited experts, and with students and teachers. The diversity of activities allowed partners to explore the theoretical and practical aspects of SEL programmes and their implementation in VET settings, and to consider issues such as costs and sustainability of the different approaches.
Following each partner meeting, feedback was collected from all those present and a written evaluation was carried out and distributed to all partners. These evaluation reports were given consideration when planning the following meetings. In the last meeting held in Malta, future collaboration between partners was discussed and another application as a follow up of this project was submitted.
Throughout the process, the project blog, at http://selvet.weebly.com/, was updated with background literature, project reports and photos and made available publicly. The data, presentations and reports gathered throughout the meetings form a substantial resource for future reference. In this present project, a major output has been the development of a ‘guidebook’ which draws together the learning of the partners. All partners collaborated in writing, designing and producing this key document. It provides an overview of SEL and its application within each partner country, provides a rationale and evidence as to its importance in VET, examples of good practice and an extensive literature list. In it, the partners advocate for the widespread inclusion of SEL in VET with the main target audience being school directors, principals and teachers, as well as decision-makers and developers of policy.