At what level should schools be working to develop resilience and promote emotional wellbeing in children and young people?

Assignment type: Essay
Author: Laura Harris
Submitted: May 2011

Recent reports suggest that the wellbeing of children living in the UK is significantly poorer than other high income countries.  This is despite the fact that the children of today’s society receive better education, and have more possessions and better homes than ever before.  For a number of years, researchers have attempted to identify protective factors that have enabled children to thrive when faced with difficult circumstances.  It is thought that these protective factors help to unlock a child’s innate resilience and promote emotional wellbeing.  Research which has identified these protective factors has led to the creation of school-based programmes, aimed at developing these skills in children and young people.  This paper explores whether schools should implement programmes which target specific at-risk groups using targeted prevention approaches, or employ universal prevention programmes which encompass all children.  The evidence suggests that schools should employ targeted programmes, as these are currently supported by empirical evidence which is methodologically and theoretically sound.  The evidence also suggests that whilst a number of researchers claim that universal programmes will benefit all children, studies of their effectiveness to date, are largely based on teacher reports.  It is important to address this issue in order to gain a better understanding of the most effective and efficient ways of ensuring positive outcomes for children and young people.  Thus, efforts to promote resilience and emotional wellbeing in schools must be evidence-based.  Future research needs to determine the most effective combination of universal and targeted intervention programmes.

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