Chapter 8 - Areas of Need: Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH)

8.1 Definition 

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or distressing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder. 

8.2 Indicators of difficulties

Children and young people with SEMH difficulties may display passive behaviours such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Low mood
  • Being withdrawn
  • Avoiding risks
  • Unable to make choices
  • Low self-worth
  • Isolated
  • Refusing to accept praise
  • Failure to engage
  • Poor personal presentation
  • Lethargy/apathy
  • Daydreaming
  • Unable to make and maintain friendships
  • Speech anxiety/ reluctance to speak
  • Task avoidance

Children and young people with SEMH difficulties may display active behaviours such as:

  • Challenging behaviours
  • Restlessness/over-activity
  • Non-compliance
  • Mood swings
  • Impulsivity
  • Physical aggression
  • Verbal aggression
  • Perceived injustices
  • Disproportionate reactions to situations
  • Difficulties with change/transitions
  • Absconding
  • Eating issues
  • Lack of empathy
  • Lack of personal boundaries
  • Poor awareness of personal space

8.3 A Graduated Approach

As described in Chapter 4 a graduated approach is applied to all types of need. The following pages contain three Social, Emotional and Mental Health audits. They describe actions to be undertaken under each of these headings and follow the format of;

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Review

Audit One describes actions to be undertaken for ALL children and young people. Much of this is based around Inclusive Quality First Teaching.

Audit Two describes actions to be undertaken for SOME children and young people. This is based around Inclusive Quality First Teaching plus additional time-limited support programmes. 

Audit Three describes actions to be undertaken for a FEW children and young people. This includes Inclusive Quality First Teaching plus increasingly individualised intervention programmes to accelerate and maximise progress and close performance gaps. 

The audits are designed to assist schools in ensuring a rigorous, consistent approach to support for Social, Emotional and Mental Health.

Social, Emotional and Mental Health Audit One - All Children and Young People

All teachers are teachers of learners with SEN.

All learners benefit from Inclusive Quality First Teaching. 

There will be high expectations that good progress is made.

Audit One - All children and young people
Assess

Is the learner underachieving or do they have any special educational needs?

Are there any other factors such as EAL?

Discuss any concerns with the learner, all teaching staff, and parents

Establish the learner’s strengths and barriers to achievement 

Do observations in class and in less structured situations 

Review attainment and progress data 

Look at scores from standardised tests e.g. reading, spelling, maths and other diagnostic assessments 

Analyse the learner’s work  and learning style – all areas

Check attendance, health and safeguarding records

Review school processes for ensuring Inclusive Quality First Teaching – ensure Social, Emotional, and Mental Health is supported through PSHE&C, the School Council, SEAL, Rtime, Circle Time, Lunchtime Behaviour Plans etc.

Review school processes for creating an inclusive school culture supported by positive and consistent behaviour management

Audit staff training needs.

Plan

Involve the learner and their parent/s in the process

Use a learning assessment to ensure appropriately differentiated work and ensure any gaps in learning are addressed 

Use the learner’s and teacher’s analysis of his/her learning style and needs to create an environment in which the learner can work; making use of flexible and multi-method learning approaches 

Ensure everyone manages behaviour processes consistently

Do

Revisit whole school Behaviour Policy, Anti-Bullying Policy – Rules, Rewards and Sanction systems

Use PSHE&C, Social Emotion Aspects of Learning (SEAL), Rtime, Circle Time, Peer Massage where appropriate

Promote a positive ethos and inclusive culture through assemblies, school council, and school newsletters 

Consider the DfE document, Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools. Departmental advice for school staff (DfE, June 2014) (external link)

Be aware of the need to promote social, emotional and mental health during extra-curricular activities, school trips, lunchtime clubs

Review

Analyse to ensure teaching and learning has been effective. If it has, then continue to support the learner through the systems already in place. 

However, if the learner has not made the same progress as other learners with the same ability and needs then consider further support.

Social, Emotional and Mental Health Audit Two - Some Children and Young People

Some children and young people will require time-limited intervention programmes in addition to Inclusive Quality First Teaching; in order to secure effective learning and increase their rate of progress.

Audit Two - Some children and young people
Assess

Undertake classroom observations

Discuss concerns with the learner, his/her parents/carers and all teaching staff  

Use tools such as B Squared to monitor progress

Skills for Learning (formerly QCA EBD Scale available from TESS) 

Pre and post assessment of interventions with clear success criteria

Holistic view of the child/young person including other factors

Boxall Profile 

Goodman’s Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire 

Wigan Council: Mental Health Toolkit 

Risk Assessments 

Audit Staff Skills

Plan

Involve the learner and their parent/s in the process, understanding how they learn and what needs to happen to make progress

Involve Support Services at a consultation level

Use assessment to plan appropriately differentiated work and ensure any gaps in learning are addressed 

Create an environment in which the learner can work; making use of flexible and multi-method learning approaches and consider alternative ways of recording to enable pupils to demonstrate their learning

Consider deployment of support, ensuring everyone receives appropriate training and develops an understanding of the pupils needs

Ensure everyone manages behaviour processes consistently

The teacher, in consultation with the SENCO, pupil, parent and others involved, is responsible for:

Planning interventions

Considering the time, support and resources required

Setting appropriately challenging SMART targets based on age, prior attainment and SEN/SEMH needs ,with clear expected outcomes

Setting a review date

Do

Planned structured researched programmes of small group support delivered by trained teaching staff (Teachers and/or Teaching Assistants).  

It can be delivered within a whole class as part of guided work or in another part of school 

The class teacher should work closely with staff involved in delivering interventions to assess impact.

The class teacher is responsible for ensuring and monitoring that learning progress occurs. 

Small group interventions with positive role models and differentiated learning to ensure success and increase self-esteem e.g. 

Nurturing Talk, Nurture Room

Silver SEAL, Family SEAL

Rtime, Circle Time

Socially Speaking, social skills activities

Understanding and controlling emotions activities

Anti-bullying interventions

Peer support systems

Restorative Justice approaches. 

Review

Evaluate intervention to ensure teaching and learning has been effective.  

If it has, then continue to support the learner through the systems already in place. 

However, if the learner has not made the same progress as other pupils receiving similar support then consider asking for advice through a consultation with support services such as:

Targeted Education Support Service (TESS)

Educational Psychology Service (EPS)

Gateway

Speech and Language Therapy (SALT)

Occupational Therapy (OT).

Social, Emotional and Mental Health Audit Three - Few Children and Young People

A few children/young people will require increasingly individualised intervention programmes, in addition to Inclusive Quality First Teaching, to accelerate and maximise progress and close performance gaps.

Audit Three - Few children and young people
Assess

Consider all previous assessments, progress over time and refer to appropriate support services.

Support services may;

Have discussions with the learner, parents/carers and teaching staff

Make classroom observations, and use assessment tools

Assess using diagnostic assessments

Provide a report detailing recommendations.

Plan

Involve the learner and their parents/carers in the process

Use assessment of cognitive development to plan appropriate tasks and ensure any gaps in learning are addressed 

Make use of recommendations and strategies described in support services reports

Consider deployment of support ensuring everyone receives appropriate training and develops an understanding of the pupil’s needs

Ensure everyone manages behaviour processes consistently

The teacher, in consultation with the SENCO, pupil, parent and others involved, is responsible for:

Planning interventions

Considering the time, support and resources required

Setting appropriately challenging SMART targets based on age, prior attainment and SEN/SEMH needs, with clear expected outcomes

Setting a review date

Planning can be recorded on the school’s information systems through Provision Maps, Individual Education Plans and/or Pastoral Support Programmes.

Do

Planned structured researched programmes of small group support delivered by trained teaching staff (Teachers and/or Teaching Assistants).

It can be delivered within a whole class as part of guided work or in another part of school 

The class teacher should work closely with staff involved in delivering interventions to assess impact

The class teacher is responsible for ensuring and monitoring that learning progress occurs

Small group interventions with positive role models and differentiated learning to ensure success and increase self-esteem, for example:

Individual counselling

Nurturing Talk, Nurture Room provision

Silver SEAL, Family SEAL

Rtime, Circle Time

Socially Speaking, social skills activities

Understanding and controlling emotions activities

Anti-bullying interventions

Peer support systems

Restorative justice approaches

Review

Review outcomes at the time previously planned. Evidence of outcomes should include all data and feedback from all involved – the pupil, their parent, the teachers, teaching assistants and SENCO. This review may also involve support services.

The review will consider the impact of the intervention on the pupil’s progress and evaluate the effectiveness of the support.  Analysis should ensure teaching and learning has been effective. If this is the case then continue to support the learner through the systems already in place. 

However, if the learner has not made the same progress as other pupils receiving similar support then referral for an Education Health and Care Plan may be appropriate. 

Diagram showing the processes for addressing social, emotional and mental health difficulties in children and young people.

8.4 Processes for Addressing Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties

This flowchart demonstrates the process to follow when addressing social, emotional and mental health difficulties. 

8.5 Whole School Behaviour and Discipline

The Headteacher must publicise the school behaviour policy in writing, to staff, parents and pupils at least once a year. The school’s behaviour policy must be published on its website. Schools have found that good practice involves the whole community taking part in regular planned reviews of policy.

Settings should consider whether continuing disruptive behaviour might be the result of unmet educational or other needs. The SENCO and others within the setting’s pastoral team have a vital role to play in joined up working. 

Schools and early years settings may find the following documents useful:

8.6 Mental Health and Behaviour 

The culture and structures within a setting can promote their learners’ mental health. The SENCO will ensure colleagues understand how the setting identifies and meets learners’ needs, provides advice and support to colleagues as needed and liaises with professionals from support services as necessary. 

The following document may prove useful:

Schools will already have access to the Wigan Mental Health Toolkit. If you would like more information please contact the Targeted Education Support Service (TESS)

8.6 EHC Criteria

Children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties within educational settings are those who frequently exhibit a pattern of inappropriate behaviour of such significant duration and severity that it impedes their access to learning and/or, in some, but not all cases, the access to learning of other pupils.

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties may result, for example, from a reaction to a learning difficulty, from out-of-school factors, physical or mental illness, sensory or physical impairment, from psychological trauma or circumstances within educational settings.

Children with such difficulties may show inappropriate ways of coping with a range of emotional, social, environmental and personal situations. They may put barriers between themselves and their learning through inappropriate, aggressive or withdrawn behaviour. Such children often have poor social skills' development, low self-esteem, little experience of consistent guidelines on how to behave and show limited skill in coping with frustration, anger and fear.

They may show behaviours which include serious or persistent physical or verbal threats to other children or staff, persistent withdrawn or irrational behaviour, extreme tantrum episodes, self-injury, difficulty joining in group/class-based learning or social activities, severe social and emotional immaturity, long-standing fear of attending school, acute distress and/or high levels of anxiety, etc.

Most pupils with social, emotional and mental health difficulties will have their needs met from within school resources. Many such difficulties are situation specific and of a short duration.

It is only those young people with long term significant problems that will require an EHC Assessment based on:

  • Persistence over time
  • Intensity/severity
  • Duration
  • Frequency
  • Perceptions of degree of inappropriateness.

When their difficulties are to be defined as a special educational need, children/young people often present particular problems of assessment in the absence of well-standardised, norm-referenced assessment procedures.  It is essential therefore that there are common pathways for the assessment of social, emotional and mental health difficulties so that the appropriate interventions and resources are identified and used effectively. The process is outlined in Section 8.4 and should run in parallel to the audit models shown earlier in this chapter.

A-Z

Rate the information on this page

green smiley (good) orange smiley (average) red smiley (poor)

© Wigan Council