School leaders and a culture of support: Fostering student social emotional development
Issues in Educational Research
School of Education
The Melbourne Declaration (2008) set the national priorities for education with a focus on the vital role schools play in social emotional development, thus preparing students for life and citizenship. More than a decade on, there is little evidence to demonstrate how Australian schools are fostering the social emotional development of students. The purpose of this study was to interpret leaders' understandings of student social emotional development and to explore the roles and responsibilities leaders and school staff take. A small scale pilot study was designed and three in-depth interviews of leaders across a K - 12 non-government metropolitan school were conducted. It was found that the leaders prioritised student social emotional development due to a strong belief in the foundational nature of this development to engagement and learning. Leaders and staff across the school work to create a culture of support to foster student social emotional development in order to optimise the conditions for learning. This key finding highlights the need to foster this aspect of student development in a school setting where learning is the primary goal.