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Strengthening socio-emotional competencies in a school setting: Data from the Pyramid project


Dr Madeleine Ohl, School of Psychology, Social Work and Human Sciences, University of West London, Paragon, Boston Manor Road, TW8 9GA, UK (e-mail:


Background. Development of socio-emotional competencies is key to children's successful social interaction at home and at school.

Aims. This study examines the efficacy of a UK primary school-based intervention, the Pyramid project, in strengthening children's socio-emotional competencies.

Sample. Participants were 385 children from seven schools in two UK cities. All children were aged 7–8 years and in school Year 3. Children were screened for socio-emotional difficulties through the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ; Goodman, 1997) and a multi-agency meeting of relevant professionals before being allocated to attend a Pyramid Club intervention (n= 103) or a comparison group (n= 282).

Method. A 2 × 2 mixed-model design was used: group (intervention group vs. comparison group) × 2 time points (pre- vs. 12 weeks post-intervention) with repeated measures on the time factor to investigate the impact of the Pyramid Year 3 intervention. Teachers completed the SDQ-T4-16 for all children pre- and post-intervention to measure participants’ socio-emotional health status.

Results. As measured by the two SDQ difficulty sub-scales of Emotional and Peer problems and the SDQ strength sub-scale of Prosocial behaviour, post-intervention improvements in the Pyramid attendee group were of greater magnitude than those of the comparison group.

Conclusions. The Pyramid project intervention improves the socio-emotional health of vulnerable children through promoting positive outcomes as well as reducing socio-emotional deficits. These findings further support the inclusion of a salutogenic approach in promoting children's socio-emotional well-being.