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Sporadic and inconsistent implementation remains a significant challenge for social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions. This may be partly explained by the dearth of flexible, causative models that capture the multifarious determinants of implementation practices within complex systems. This paper draws upon Rogers (2003) Diffusion of Innovations Theory to explain the adoption, implementation and discontinuance of a SEL intervention. A pragmatic, formative process evaluation was conducted in alignment with phase 1 of the UK Medical Research Council's framework for Developing and Evaluating Complex Interventions. Employing case-study methodology, qualitative data were generated with four socio-economically and academically contrasting secondary schools in Wales implementing the Student Assistance Programme. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 programme stakeholders. Data suggested that variation in implementation activity could be largely attributed to four key intervention reinvention points, which contributed to the transformation of the programme as it interacted with contextual features and individual needs. These reinvention points comprise the following: intervention training, which captures the process through which adopters acquire knowledge about a programme and delivery expertise; intervention assessment, which reflects adopters' evaluation of an intervention in relation to contextual needs; intervention clarification, which comprises the cascading of knowledge through an organisation in order to secure support in delivery; and intervention responsibility, which refers to the process of assigning accountability for sustainable delivery. Taken together, these points identify opportunities to predict and intervene with potential implementation problems. Further research would benefit from exploring additional reinvention activity.
In the past twenty years there has been a proliferation of targeted school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions. However, the lived experience of young peoples' participation is often elided, while the potential for interventions to confer unintended and even adverse effects remains under-theorised and empirically under-explored. This paper reports findings from a qualitative case study of students' participation in a targeted SEL intervention, the Student Assistance Programme. Data was generated with four secondary schools in Wales, with 41 students (age 12-14) taking part in the study. Findings indicate that students' identification for participation in the intervention and their reaction to the group composition may lead to harmful effects. Four iatrogenic processes were identified: (1) identification may be experienced as negative labelling resulting in rejection of the school (2) the label of SEL failure may serve as a powerful form of intervention capital, being employed to enhance students' status amongst peers. Possession of this capital is contingent on continued resistance of the intervention (3) targeting of discrete friendship groups may lead to the construction of intervention "outsiders" as students seek safety through the reification of pre-exiting relationships (4) students may seek to renegotiate positioning within targeted friendships groups by "bragging" about and reinforcing anti-school activities, leading to deviancy amplification.