London, March 6: Primary school children in Britain are to be taught how to make friends, resolve squabbles and 'manage their anger' in a '10-million scheme aimed at improving their social skills.
Head teachers have been told by the department of education that they can no longer assume that the development of social and emotional skills is the responsibility of parents. Children will be given lessons on how to express feelings such as jealousy and regret and be encouraged to forgive and compliment classmates.
'Research is bringing home the wide extent of various types of neglect and abuse,' says the guidance to heads.
'This is being exacerbated by the breakdown of extended family and communities, which reduces support for the nuclear family, and the higher rates of divorce and subsequent one-parent families.
'This has led to a shake-up of the belief that we can leave children's emotional and social development to parents. So schools have to provide the emotional and social guidance that some pupils currently lack.'
In one session, children are encouraged to talk about their emotions and play a quiz called 'Guess what I am feeling' They design an 'emotional barometer' to rate the strength of their feelings.
In another, children build a 'good friend wall' with bricks on which they write qualities of friendship. They are also encouraged to pass round a cuddly toy to stroke to help them understand the 'nice' feeling they have when receiving a compliment.
Kevan Collins, the national primary strategy director, said the project was aimed at improving learning and behaviour, highlighted by inspectors last week as a growing problem in secondary schools.