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Learning Passport: Curriculum Framework (IC-ADAPT SEL high level programme design)

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Boyd-McMillan, Eolene 
DeMarinis, Valerie 


This high-level programme design is qualified by the recognition that education in emergency (EiE) contexts, and other contexts hosting vulnerable learners, fluctuate rapidly and it may not be possible to implement every aspect of the design in all situations at all times. A high-level programme design functions like a roadmap to guide: a) the co-development of an SEL programme that will support learners and those who support learners, as robustly as possible; and b) the development of collaborative relationships with local, regional, national, and international stakeholders to support, deliver, monitor, and evaluate the programme. For emphasis, this document presents a high-level Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programme design, not the programme itself. The SEL programme itself will come in the next phase of the LP project (a brief theory of change flow chart with a phase schedule appears before the conclusion). In alignment with existing SEL policies and programmes when present, a ‘high-level programme design’ serves as a foundation on which a programme can be developed for a specific EiE or other context. Since context and culture always shape and inform emotional and social processes, there is no such thing as a context agnostic SEL programme. Rather, SEL factors, competencies, and skills in one culture may not be recognised as such in another and thereby be overlooked, ignored, or discounted (Frydenberg et al., 2017; Torrente et al., 2015). Similar to the Learning Passport’s maths, science, and literacy Curriculum Framework, as introduced by Prof. Tim Oates in the foreword to that document (Cambridge Assessment, 2020), this high-level programme design provides an essential ‘bedrock’ for elaboration in each context or range of contexts. To paraphrase Oates, the learning programmes and materials derived from a high-level programme design of this kind can bolster the social, emotional, and cognitive learning of vulnerable children and youth in different circumstances, and allow those who have missed out on essential steps to have their needs identified and their learning supplemented. Avoiding over-detailed specifications, a high-level programme design can lay the foundation for the development of contextually appropriate memorable reference points and benchmarks. ‘Detailed interpretation...can be done through context-appropriate learning materials, learning support, and professional practice, where teachers or supportive others are available’ (ibid., p.iii). A high-level SEL programme design provides the programme structure and principles but not the programme itself. The programme itself must be contextually instantiated. As reviewed in the Research Report, international transfer of already-developed SEL programmes has had mixed or little success (even from HIC to HIC) without substantial cultural and contextual adaptations, in essence creating a new programme that cannot necessarily be compared with pre-existing deliveries of the original programme (as is recognised in discussions around the ‘fidelity-adaptation’ tension). To enable comparisons across different delivery sites, the IC-ADAPT SEL programme design would enable the development of different versions of the same programme while also beginning with the needs of the displaced learner and their lived reality. This starting place would prioritise the SEL self-regulation skills needed for academic attainment, secure relationships, future employment, and civic participation among displaced or vulnerable learners without compromising fidelity to the programme design. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for SEL, but adherence to recommended frameworks, principles, methods, approaches, and structures would create contextually and culturally appropriate SEL programming versions for learners in different contexts, while also enabling cross-site comparisons of multi-levelled effectiveness. Programming for social and emotional learning is always culturally and contextually shaped, informed, and expressed, and requires localised development but can also remain faithful to a model that begins with the needs of displaced and/or vulnerable learners. Although innovative and unique, this SEL high-level programme design has three important aspects that cohere with the maths, science and literacy framework, as noted by Oates in his foreword to the Curriculum Framework:

  1. It is research-based.
  2. It links with all other SEL programmes by focussing on the developmental progression of self-regulation through differentiation and integration that underlies all SEL competencies and skills, such as those identified by CASEL and the Harvard Taxonomy project.
  3. As far as possible in a rapidly developing field with international collaborative mapping exercises just underway, it is informed by comparisons of programmes and standards (as reported in the Research and Recommendations Report). Similar to the authors of the maths, science, and literacy Curriculum Framework, we consider this SEL high-level programme design to be unique and powerful, and highly valuable for the development of social and emotional learning programmes, learning materials, and assessment approaches for the world’s displaced, vulnerable, and/or learning impoverished children and youth.



social and emotional learning, education in emergencies, refugees, migrants, displaced populations, integrative complexity, ADAPT, cultural formulation interview, community readiness model

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Cambridge University Press & Cambridge Assessment

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