S.A.L.T Teaching children how to deal with conflict.

The S.A.L.T. Programme is an innovative programme, specially developed for the Irish Curriculum and is aligned to the key strands of the SPHE (Primary) Programme: Myself, Myself and Others, Relating to Others,Myself and the World. Through The S.A.L.T. Programme, children will learn what conflict is, what it feels like to be in conflict and how to negotiate effectively to create a better outcome for themselves and others. The programme focuses on building each child’s capacity to develop and access their own skills set when dealing with difficult and sometimes emotional situations.

Salt is a full pack for the teacher in the Irish classroom. It includes a teacher manual, lesson plans and posters.
Having recently completed a certificate in emotional intelligence, I am hugely interested in the area of conflict and how people or children handle or react to it.
The area of emotions and how we are aware of them and handle them are connected to conflict in as huge way.
I used SALT with a mixed group of children in 4th class. I had a small group of 5 children who came to see me every week, I used the programme for about 8 weeks. It would have been much better if I could have used this with a full class so keep this in mind when you are reading my review.

Relevance to curriculum aims: 3/5

It is based on the SPHE curriculum in the sense that the content and strand units are taken directly from it. My main issue with it is that the methodologies of the SPHE  curriculum need to be developed more. Within the lessons I taught, there was huge emphasis on story telling, worksheets and some role play. The worksheets became an issue for some of the children, causing them to get less motivated about coming as they originally enjoyed the interaction and role play at the beginning. They started to see the SALT sessions as “Work”

The SPHE curriculum puts its sole emphasis on active learning and the child being at the scene of the learning. The content of conflict resolution and the SALT program weighed on the Teacher led side and on worksheets. Worksheets have their place but a balance is needed. I am aware that the resource was written by Fiona McAuslan who is a recognised conflict resolution expert and I am sure that it was evaluated by teachers who are interested in good practice but I felt that it needed to show this more.

Teacher usability: 3/5

The worksheets and posters are easy enough to whip out or photocopy but the area of conflict resolution is a such an expert area, I would prefer if there were training available for teachers who were interested in it. Teachers cannot claim to be experts in this subject. The Teachers’ Manual goes into great detail about conflict resolution but with the hectic and busy lives we lead, it may an area for the Education Centre to look into. For example, when a teacher buys a pack, they receive online/dvd/face to face training of some sort. CEOL, a music programme includes this type of training with their own programme.

Value for money: 4/5 the full pack costs 90 Euro, which is pretty good value as you do get every resource that you need with it. Maybe, they could add a bit more on for a training module in the future.

Extras: 4/5

One of the very useful tools that come with this pack are the assessment sheets that the child fills out with the teacher if conflict does occur, it ties in the skills needed and also forces the child to reflect and change their behaviour. These reports can be filed or used as a discussion with child, parents or teacher. I found these to be brilliant with one child in particular and that child remembered the skills as they were revised throughout this assessment.
Some areas to include could be a photograph pack or even the use of the media. The Internet side of things need to be developed. Children could look at portrayals of conflict, how it escalated and how it can be solved. Another interesting things to develop could be looking at “celebrities” and how they handle conflict. Roy Keane springs to mind. I think this would make it more relevant to children.
This pack has huge potential, the content and its validity for children is so important but as. Teacher, I had to supplement it with photos, games and media links. The further development of the posters and images could also be developed if a revision of the pack were to occur.

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