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Keywords:

  • behaviour;
  • developing countries;
  • interventions pre-school children;
  • qualitative;
  • teachers

Abstract

Background  There is a growing evidence base showing the efficacy of school-based interventions to prevent conduct problems but few evaluations have addressed teachers' perceptions of these programmes. Teachers' views on the acceptability, feasibility and usefulness of an intervention will influence implementation fidelity and programme sustainability and can help further our understanding of how the intervention works and how it may be improved.

Methods  A pilot study of the Incredible Years Teacher Training Programme supplemented by a curriculum unit on social and emotional skills was conducted in inner-city pre-schools in Kingston, Jamaica. Three pre-schools comprising 15 classrooms participated in the intervention which involved seven monthly teacher workshops and 14 weekly child lessons in each class. At the end of the intervention in-depth individual interviews were conducted with each intervention teacher.

Results  Teachers reported benefits to their own teaching skills and professional development, to their relationships with children and to the behaviour, social-emotional competence and school readiness skills of the children in their class. Teachers also reported benefits to teacher–parent relationships and to children's behaviour at home. A hypothesis representing the teachers' perceptions of how the intervention achieved these benefits was developed. The hypothesis suggests that intervention effects were due to teachers' gains in skills and knowledge in three main areas: (1) a deeper understanding of young children's needs and abilities; (2) increased use of positive and proactive strategies; and (3) explicitly teaching social and emotional skills. These changes then led to the variety of benefits reported for teachers, children and parents. Teachers reported few difficulties in implementing the majority of strategies and strongly recommended wider dissemination of the intervention.

Conclusions  The intervention was valued by Jamaican pre-school teachers and teachers felt they were able to successfully integrate the strategies learned into their regular practice.