Social and emotional learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) programmes aim to help young people manage their emotions.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) covers a range of skills designed to help students to manage their emotions, learn emotional problem-solving and encourage prosocial behaviour.

It aims to support individuals to develop self-awareness and decision-making skills, as well as to improve overall wellbeing and resilience.

SEL targeted support programmes aim to help students to understand their own and other people’s emotions, learn emotional problem-solving and emotional regulation, and support the development of healthy social relationships.


Programme information

This information refers to targeted mental wellbeing support programmes evaluated by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Other programmes may vary in programme length and delivery method.

  • Length: From 5 weeks to 16 weeks (over 3 school terms)
  • Delivered by: Clinicians (clinical psychologist or social worker), school counsellors, trained youth practitioners, teaching assistants or learning mentors
  • Delivery method: Group (one programme was for individuals)
  • Age: 4 – 16+

Many programmes aimed at secondary schools may also be suitable for FE colleges. Please see individual programmes for guidance.

Targeted support programmes

The following are some examples of social and emotional learning (SEL) targeted support programmes that you may wish to explore to see if they are right for your setting.    

These programmes have been evaluated by a team of researchers as part of the NICE evidence reviews, unless otherwise indicated by an asterisk*. 

Any non-UK based programme that is listed will have either been used previously in the UK or may be suitable for adaption in your setting. You may need to check with the provider to confirm how to best use it in your setting.

*Please note: these programmes have not been evaluated by Anna Freud, or by NICE as part of their evidence reviews. Their inclusion does not indicate endorsement.

You can also find out more about social and emotional learning via the ELSA Network. There you can search the directory to see if your local authority is ELSA registered and find contact information.

There may be other SEL services and programmes available in your local area. Contact your local authority to find out what is available to your school or college.   

If you are unsure who to contact at your local authority, try speaking to your Mental Health Support Team (if applicable), your trust leadership team, or your setting’s safeguarding or pastoral lead. 

If you haven’t yet reviewed the targeted support guide, this will help you to consider which types of targeted support might be appropriate for your setting.

What does the evidence show?

Related pages

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT programmes aim to support students to manage stress and emotions more effectively.



Yoga targeted support programmes can include yoga sessions, breath work and relaxation techniques.



Mentoring targeted support programmes pair up pupils with peers or trusted adults.



Targeted support programmes focused on mindfulness and meditation to improve emotional regulation.


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