Why are SEI competencies important?
When students possess enhanced social and emotional competencies, this leads to several positive outcomes:
- better educational outcomes,
- better mental health,
- lower numbers of early school leavers,
- improvement in prosocial behaviour,
- decrease in physical aggression, and
- a positive self-image
(Bierman, Nix, Greenberg, Blair, & Domitrovich, 2008; Durlak et al., 2011; Greenberg, 2006; Sklad et al., 2012; Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004). In addition, students with better social-emotional competencies:
- are more active in the classroom,
- express their opinions and points of view more clearly,
- integrate, evaluate and accept other people’s opinions, and
- have better relationships with their peers and school staff
(Cook et al., 2008; Ragozzino et al., 2003; Elliot, Frey, & Davies, 2015, Mallecki & Elliot, 2002).
School staff’s social and emotional competencies have been recognised as being vital for:
- the development of students’ social and emotional competencies (Schonert-Reichl et al., 2015),
- students’ behavioural and academic achievement (e.g. Hamre & Pianta, 2001; Valiente, Lemery-Chalfant, Swanson, & Reiser, 2008),
- students’ learning and development in general (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009; Jensen, Bengaard Skibsted, & Vedsgaard Christensen, 2015; Jones et al., 2013), and
- school staff’s own well-being (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009).
Moreover, in a seven-year study of 400 elementary schools, Bryk and Schneider (2004) found that the quality of social relationships among the school community (principals, school staff and students) is central to the students’ functioning, and strongly predicts positive student outcomes. At the same time, the intercultural competencies of school staff cannot be assumed and must be prepared at the systemic level (Downes & Cefai, 2016) in order to create an inclusive environment and promote/develop students’ intercultural competencies.