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Improving Science and Emotional Development (The ISED project): concerning citizenship, emotional literacy, science and equity

Matthews, Brian. 2003. Improving Science and Emotional Development (The ISED project): concerning citizenship, emotional literacy, science and equity. Project Report. Goldsmiths, University of London, London. [Report]

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Abstract or Description

There has been, and remains, a very heavy emphasis on cognitive learning in the National
Curriculum for England and Wales. There have been calls for this emphasis to change, both
within and outside Government ((NACCE, 1998; Park, 1999). Some change has occurred;
David Blunkett set up committees to advise him on integrating citizenship into the National
Curriculum (Crick Report).
The situation now exists where Citizenship is part of the National Curriculum for England and
Wales (1999), alongside non-statutory guidelines for Personal, Social and Health Education
(PHSE). One concern expressed is that Citizenship should be covered in a cross-curricular
fashion and that all subjects play a part as well as subjects like Social Studies. The
Gulbenkian Foundation has been concerned about the development of PHSE and
commissioned Passport, a framework for Personal Social Development (PSD) to integrate the
national initiatives (Lees and Plant, 2000). Clearly, then, it is important that we find ways to
help pupils develop their social and emotional skills within subjects like science. Examples
would include: to learn to resolve conflict fairly; justify their personal opinions orally;
contribute to group and exploratory class discussions; use their imagination to consider other
people’s views; to negotiate, decide and take part in school-based activities; and to reflect on
the process of participating (NC1999; p184 1g, 2b, c, 3a, b &c). There are convincing
arguments for co-education and hence there is a necessity to find ways of developing
understanding between boys and girls. In order to support secondary pupils in the
development their social and emotional skills we felt that it was important to situate the pupils
within the context of normal subject teaching. The reasons for this are as follows. Firstly, this
is where pupils spend most of their time. Secondly, is that the cognitive, social and emotional
are all intertwined. One aspect of promoting development in these areas is to acknowledge
this, and to find ways of enhancing progress. With the present emphasis on academic
development a focus on the social and emotional becomes more vital.
Lastly, science is a natural area for such work. Contrary to popular opinion, science is
inherently a social activity. Science incorporates imagination, creativity and social and
political values, and so our education system needs to change. To develop social and
emotional understanding in science lessons could cover three areas concurrently: (i) greater
interest in, and understanding of, the nature of science, (ii) developing positive methods of
communication and so getting along with people, and feeling good, as well as (iii)
maintaining academic success. A more detailed analysis is given in Matthews (2002).
Clearly though, for pupils to progress emotionally they need to gain an understanding of each
other, and in particular, to do so across gender divides. Hence co-educational schools, where
the other sex is present to talk to, provide the greater opportunity to enhance social and
emotional development. This context makes it possible to engage pupils in their emotions,
rather than just be told about them and how they should change. Hence dialogue and the
interactions are seen as central to helping pupils develop their sense of ‘self’ and ‘other’.
As a result, this project Improving Science and Emotional Development (ISED) project, with
three teachers in two London comprehensive schools was instigated.

Item Type:

Report (Project Report)

Additional Information:

Report on Gulbenkian Foundation grant No 146/99/E:
Education for relationships in science lessons; improving pupil’s social and emotional skills.
A project to assess the degree to which Personal, Social and Health Education in schools can be effectively incorporated into subject lessons. This is also known as the Improving Science and Emotional Development (ISED) project. Brian Matthews with Tim Kilbey, Caroline Doneghan, and Suzanne Harrison

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 May 2015 07:56

Last Modified:

10 Jul 2018 02:53


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