The following philosophy underpins the approaches that are used in training, consultancy and research activities undertaken by Sue Roffey Associates.


We need to define what we mean by ‘being good’. Moral values are not about being obedient but about being considerate to others.

Behaviour management is not the same as learning to behave well

Students who have difficulties behaving appropriately or relating to others are often vulnerable. They need strong connection with others, not social exclusion.

Healthy relationships include raising confidence, high expectations, positive communication, teaching skills, being consistent and helping to develop empathy as part of emotional literacy.

Pro-social behaviour and positive values do not develop simply through a system of punishment and reward or telling children what to think and what to do. Children need to know what it feels like to be treated well, to have adult models of considerate behaviour and to have opportunities for reflection.

Difficulties do not exist solely within a pupil and it is not only this individual who needs to be the focus for intervention. Strategy is only as good as the context in which it is embedded. Relationship is the most significant aspect of context.

There are strong links between the protective factors in resilience, healthy relationships, pro-social behaviour and learning outcomes. These are: someone who seeks and relates to the best in you, high expectations and opportunities to feel you belong.


Parents usually do the best they can with the knowledge, skills. resources and support available to them. They have strengths and ideas that need to be acknowledged and built upon. Families who are struggling need support not blame and condemnation. Even in the most difficult circumstances we can behave with respect in order to maintain our integrity.


People often say what should be done but rarely detail how this happens. Defining the how is what makes the difference to something being effective. The process of change and the feelings that people have about it is as crucial as the content. Reviewing, monitoring and evaluating new practice keeps the how at the forefront.


The way in which people talk about issues is central to what is accepted as ‘the accurate view of reality’ and this in turn affects any policy or action. Culture – what a community believes and values – is determined by what people say.

School culture differs according to the conversations about issues – such as students who are hard to manage, priorities, the place of parents, bullying etc.

Policies do not always reflect the dominant discourses. An effective school is aware of these issues and is active in addressing them.

Western society has many ills that are the outcome of poor social and emotional literacy. A greater emphasis in education on these aspects of intelligence will have benefits not only for individuals but for the communities of the future.

Emotional and social literacy is easier to achieve in a culture that celebrates values of social justice and cooperation than one which focuses on individual success, hierarchy and acquisition.


  • people need respect and choices, not blame, if they are to take responsibility
  • people are complex, labelling can limit their potential
  • everyone needs to feel they belong, they matter and their diverse strengths valued
  • both problems and solutions are interactive
  • a strengths and solution focus is more useful
  • positive emotionality can be powerful
  • experiences of success keep us going
  • small consistent changes make a difference
  • language is action – what we say and how we say it is important
  • support and good communication are central
  • good communication includes listening!
  • meaning is as important as measurement in knowing what works and how
  • what happens, how we interpret experiences, our feelings and the actions we take are not separate but part of each other.
  • we need awareness of how society constructs the way we see things
  • emotional and social literacy needs a higher profile everywhere to address issues for individuals, our communities and beyond.

Children live what they learn

If children live with constant criticism,
They learn to condemn

If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight

If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy

If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty

If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence

If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate

If children live with fairness,
They learn justice

If children live with security,
They learn to have trust

If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves

If children live with care and concern
They learn to care for others

If children live with acceptance and friendship,
They learn to find love in the world.