Address: Escola Básica Integrada de Ribeira Grande

Country: Portugal

 School website

Project: To Involve Project


Working language during the project:

  • Portuguese

Themes of the Council of Europe project “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:

  • Making children’s and students’ voices heard
  • Improving well-being at school

Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:


  • Empathy
    Promote debate after story telling that focusses on the recognition and appreciation of the motives, behaviors, desires and feelings of others.
    Heighten empathy through practical, multisensory activities such as drawing, drama, and role play to complement the story telling.
    Spark mindfulness activities that allow students to become more attentive and aware of their present thoughts, emotions and behaviour. The resulting focused attention and enhanced awareness facilitate students’ self-regulation and positive emotions such as happiness and optimism, as well as empathy, perspective taking and prosocial behaviour.
  • Co-operating Skills
    Role-playing games that develop skills ranging from the ability to take turns and sharing to cooperation and teambuilding.
    Games that appeal to teamwork.
  • Conflict-Resolution Skills
    Games that promote assertive communication.
    Debate alternative ways to resolve conflict based on stories with subsequent application and generalization to actual struggles in children's lives.

Target group age range:

  • 5 - 11

Level of education:

  • Primary education

Short description of the project:

The To Involve Project, created in 2016, intends to promote development of socio-emotional competences, via mobilization and engagement of all educational elements, following a Whole School Approach (WSA). WSA consists of an approach based on establishing networks that integrate policies and practices pertaining to school organizational culture, opportunities cultivated in the classroom and by the curriculum, as well as partnerships fostered with educational community entities. To Involve Project calls on collaborative work involving all concerned: teaching and non-teaching staff, students, parents and families, community agents, among others.

The project was successfully approved in July 2018 by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to function as Gulbenkian Academy of Knowledge. As Gulbenkian Academy of Knowledge, the project benefited from financial support and backing in the evaluation and monitoring process. Our methodology is supported by a theoretical framework developed from the typology of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs. SEL programs lead to positive effects on targeted socio-emotional skills, along with attitudes about oneself, others and the school. The methodology consists of inclusive and universal intervention, aimed at all children in the classroom, yet with activities incorporating diversity, particularly the most vulnerable children.

As a Gulbenkian Academy of Knowledge, the project integrated experimental strategies capable of serving as a future reference for projects that create contexts to promote the development and evaluation of social and emotional skills.

In order to promote socio-emotional competences among children, teachers and technical staff have received accredited training (25h) to implement the European Resilience Curriculum (RESCUR) in the classroom context. The RESCUR sessions are implemented biweekly and have a duration of 90 minutes. To prevent burnout, to promote resilience and SEL in students, teachers have attended Systemic Coaching sessions and technical staff have received training in this area. Simultaneously, with the aim of promoting positive parenting, parental engagement and collaboration in the development of SEL in children, parents/caregivers have been invited by teachers to get involved with children in the classroom in SEL activities. They have also been invited to perform RESCUR home activities and to participate biweekly in family interaction groups for eight sessions.


Our main goal is to improve mental health and educational success in 199 children aged 3 to 12 years old through SEL.

To achieve the main goal, we set 4 intermediate goals:

  • 1) Teacher Training in the European Resilience Curriculum (RESCUR);
  • 2) Implementation of sessions for students, which allowed the development of communication skills, problem solving and emotional regulation in 199 children (preschool and elementary school);
  • 3) Promotion of positive parenting, parental involvement and collaboration in the development of socio-emotional skills in children; and
  • 4) Social and emotional skills training for non-teaching staff

Expected results/outcomes

We expected the following results for each of the intervention targets:

  • a) Students: acquire communication skills (effective listening, understanding others, communicating ideas effectively and assertive conflict resolution); acquire problem solving skills (define a problem and find solutions, evaluate these solutions and make a decision, as well as apply this process in daily routine); acquire managing and regulating emotions skills (identify, recognize and express basic emotions, interpret one’s
  • own underlying emotional and motivational states as well as those of others, and regulation of emotions).
  • b) Teachers: voluntary adherence to the project, participate actively and increasingly autonomously in the advancement of social and emotional skills in the school context.
  • c) Parents/caregivers: parents' adherence to implement the activities sent home, greater proximity to the school context; acquisition of positive parenting competencies.


To measure student´s evolution throughout the school year, we surveyed teaching staff using a five-point Lickert Scale.

Regarding the development of Communication Skills, specifically Effective Communication, there was a high perception of change due to the ability to listen effectively (55%) and to understand the emotions in communication (60%). In relation to the ability to communicate ideas, cooperate and negotiate this change stood at 44%.

For assertiveness, the results point to a high change perception of 54.7%.

Under Problem Solving skills, in Preschool there is a high evolution in all items evaluated, namely the ability to define the problem and think of creative solutions (52.5%), to evaluate solutions and make a decision (50.9%) and to apply problem solving in practice (52.7%). In turn, in primary education the evolution in all items included is reasonable, namely 62.5% in the ability to define the problem and think of creative solutions, 49.3% to evaluate solutions and make a decision, and finally 63.9% to apply problem solving in practice. These results support the relevance of promoting these skills at an early age, demonstrating that it is possible to develop skills such as Problem Solving in children from 3 to 5 years old, using products and dynamics appropriate to the age group.

Under the Emotional Regulation skill, educators and teachers perceive a high evolution in the ability to identify and recognize the different basic emotions (75%), in the ability to express basic emotions (61%). In their ability to identify strategies for managing emotions, the perception of high evolution was 53%.

Educators / teachers, mainly responsible for the implementation of the sessions with the students, proved to be important promoters of the skills contemplated, having regularly encouraged their students to reflect and monitor their own learning, created the conditions for the practice of these skills and their integration in other curricular areas.

The goal of increasing the involvement of parents / caregivers in the promotion of children's socio-emotional skills was achieved, with a significant increase in their participation throughout the school year, with an average participation rate of 44% in the first actions, increasing to 78% in subsequent actions.

The results of the qualitative evaluation (focus group) demonstrate that in the perception of parents / caregivers the To Involve Project provided positive impacts not only on the school-family relationship and the student-family relationship, but also on themselves, as they consider sessions a learning opportunity and a source of emotional support.

The teachers also perceived impacts of the To Involve Project at multiple levels, namely in the school-family relationship, reporting greater parental involvement in the school context, establishing relationships characterized by greater respect between teachers and caregivers, and remark the recognition by caregivers of the important role of educators and teachers in their children's lives. In addition, teaching staff also emphasize the practice of mindfulness and the topics addressed as useful and beneficial tools in the management of their class groups.

Challenges you faced

Although the teachers are strongly encouraged to embed the social and emotional competencies into daily classroom activities, in a structured way, so as to facilitate generalization and internalization, they find it difficult to do so without the support of the technical team (psychologists).

Supervisory work with teachers has been essential to ensure that they are able to strengthen the relationships with colleagues, students and parents, and sustain their own motivation, sense of efficacy and engagement.

Time-frame of the project:

2016- ongoing

Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:

European curriculum for resilience promotion (RESCUR), a resilience curriculum for early years and primary schools in Europe. RESCUR was designed as a universal and inclusive program to promote resilience related competences in children from 4 to 12 years old, giving, nevertheless, a special attention to vulnerable groups such as children with disabilities, special educational needs, children from minorities and refugees.