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Children's social and emotional wellbeing in schools
A critical perspective

Debbie Watson, Carl Emery, Phillip Bayliss, Margaret Boushel, Karen McInnes
Paperback, 288 pages, 234 x 156 mm
Other formats available
18 Jan 2012


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North America customers can order this book here from the University of Chicago Press.

"An in-depth analysis of terms that we all use, brilliantly explained. The reader is helped to understand the bigger picture of what we need to do to address children's social and emotional wellbeing in our schools."
Mick Waters, Professor of Education, Wolverhampton University

About This Book

This book challenges the concept of wellbeing as applied to children, particularly in a school-based context. Taking a post-structural approach, it suggests that wellbeing should be understood, and experiences revealed, at the level of the subjective child. This runs counter to contemporary accounts that reduce children's wellbeing to objective lists of things that are needed in order to live well. This book will be useful for academics and practitioners working directly with children, and anyone interested in children's wellbeing.

Author Biography

Debbie Watson is a Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies at the University of Bristol. She has experience in children's social and emotional learning and children's rights. Carl Emery is a Lecturer in Social and Personal Development and Conflict Management. He teaches at Warwick University whilst completing his PhD at Manchester University. Phil Bayliss is a retired academic. He has researched inclusion with regard to interpersonal relationships and is now working as an independent educational developer in Europe.


Section 1 Context: Introduction: Conceptual dimensions of wellbeing
Critical review of policy literature and concepts of wellbeing
Schools- current research findings/ trends/ concerns related to wellbeing
Section 2 Key issues: Inclusive Discourses in schools
Social and Emotional Dispositions and Skills- a way forward in understanding wellbeing?
Promoting positive relationships in schools
Play, playfulness and children's wellbeing ~ Karen McInnes
Children's rights and their contribution to wellbeing ~ Margaret Boushel
Professionals supporting wellbeing in schools
Section 3 Conceptions of wellbeing: towards a holistic discourse of wellbeing in schools
Social pedagogy and the promise for conceptions and practice of wellbeing in schools
Whose definition of wellbeing?


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Children's social and emotional wellbeing in schools
Children's Social and Emotional Wellbeing in Schools,,This book critiques the rise and development of policies and practice within the UK for schools to ensure an environment and/or subjects related to the wellbeing of children. The authors begin by breaking down the terminology of what wellbeing actually means and then how it can be measured or implemented through policies and within the field of education in schools.,,Clearly the authors believe that as a construct the term wellbeing is neither well defined nor understood and in many instances the methods of measuring it are also ill-defined and this has led to programmes being developed on uncertain research and findings. ,The books goes into depth regarding the versions of what wellbeing can include, how it can be measured and what is or is not included in the term depending on the instigators and anticipated results. In some circumstances the reduction of bad behaviour and violence is termed the result of a wellbeing programme. The book also questions whether teachers are the correct persons to be measuring or assessing or teaching wellbeing when they themselves do not have adequate training or understanding of the processes or concepts.,,The book can be quite difficult to read at times due to the high number of references and theories put forward, but it is an in-depth overall critique of what many people take for granted in being the needs of children in respect of their wellbeing. Chapters 7 and 9 regarding the participation and voice of the subjects - children and the opportunities for playful expressions of wellbeing were very good and gave much to think about from the practitioners' perspective. If we want to learn about children's wellbeing then it is no good making lists, (Objective List Theories) of what adults perceive to be the basis of children's wellbeing but to actually ask, listen to and find out from children themselves.,,The conclusion that wellbeing is a concept and can only be understood through its practice and its effects; that each child is an individual and cannot then be fitted into a one programme fits all is an important message to policy makers and to practitioners. Anyone wishing to ensure a child's wellbeing needs to embody the principals and engage with children through dialogue and meaningful constructive encounters.
Reviewed by Ingrid Jones

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