Evidence: The Big Picture ‘SEND’

16 March 2018

The EEF has published their latest ‘Big Picture’ theme, focusing on SEND – supporting pupils with a learning difficulty or disability which requires special educational provision.

It’s an outline of a whole variety of resources on the EEF’s website to support progress.


Pete Henderson, author of the SEND Big Picture theme, has also kindly sign post these additional EEF tools. They help in tracking the impact of approaches alongside academic outcomes in the social skills.


The Essential Skills Measures Database SPECTRUM

There is growing evidence that children’s social and emotional skills – their ability to respond to setbacks, work well with others, build relationships, manage emotions, and cope with difficult situations – are associated with success at school, as well as positive outcomes in adulthood, such as stable employment, physical and mental health, and well-being. However, despite a growing interest in these skills, much less is known about what can be done to develop them.

To help build this evidence, EEF has so far funded over a dozen trials with a focus on social and emotional skills, including under the related concept of ‘character’ with the Department for Education. Alongside EEF’s core focus on academic attainment, this is likely to be an area of our work that grows in future, including approaches that support children to manage their own learning, and a wider set of ‘essential skills’ that prepare children for success in adult life. We aim to evaluate the impact of promising programmes and school-wide approaches on both academic attainment and wider outcomes, and understand which factors support successful implementation in schools.

However, one of the challenges in this field is the considerable debate about how to define and measure various aspects of social and emotional development, as demonstrated by the confusing and contested terminology, and overwhelming number of measures available. To help address this, the University of Manchester completed a systematic review of concepts and measures in this area, building on EEF’s initial review by UCL Institute of Education in 2013.

The review team’s umbrella term for this work was ‘SPECTRUM’: Social, Psychological, Emotional, Concepts of self, and Resilience: Understanding and Measurement.


The Non-Cognitive Skills Evidence Review

The term ‘non-cognitive skills’ refers to a set of attitudes, behaviours, and strategies that are thought to underpin success in school and at work, such as motivation, perseverance, and self-control. They are usually contrasted with the ‘hard skills’ of cognitive ability in areas such as literacy and numeracy, which are measured by academic tests. Non-cognitive skills are increasingly considered to be as important as, or even more important than, cognitive skills or IQ in explaining academic and employment outcomes. Indeed, there is now growing attention from policymakers on how such ‘character’ or ‘soft’ skills can be developed in children and young people.

The evidence review presents what key themes and evidence base there is in current literature and can support professionals’ work in this field.

Posted on 16 March 2018
Posted in: Evidence