A common criticism of Social and Emotional Learning programmes such as Zippy’s Friends is that they take up time which could instead be used to teach more academic subjects. However, there is growing evidence that such programmes can actually improve children’s academic achievement.
Aleisha Clarke and Prof Margaret Barry of the Health Promotion Research Centre at the National University of Ireland, Galway, have reviewed the evidence on behalf of Partnership for Children. They looked not just at Zippy’s Friends but at Social and Emotional Learning programmes in general.
They conclude that such programmes significantly improve children’s academic performance. They note that the largest and most rigorous study to date, involving more than 300,000 children, found that ‘evidence-based programmes are intimately linked to improving children’s academic performance.’
They also found that such programmes are most effective when they are targeted at younger children, and when they are taught by class teachers, rather than by outside experts.
Clarke and Barry’s review, which is published exclusively on this website, is a useful, easy-to-read response to anyone who thinks that programmes such as Zippy’s Friends are a distraction from more academic subjects.