Mobile navigation

SEND Sustainability Plan

If you are looking for information about our new SEND Sustainability Plan see 'SEND sustainability plan'

Wiltshire Ordinarily Available Provision for All Learners (OPAL)

Section Two: Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

This includes children and young people who experience difficulties with their emotions and their wellbeing, and those who have difficulties with social interactions. Needs in this area can appear in a number of different ways, including becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. This provision should be in addition to the expectations in section one.

General expected practices

Schools should employ a graduated response to meeting children and young people's SEMH needs. It is essential that this starts with a whole school approach and ethos in understanding and supporting social, emotional and mental health, and includes engagement with parents and the community. It includes high quality teaching for all students, ranging to targeted interventions for groups of pupils or individuals and, lastly, specialist interventions for those with the most complex needs.

The first step should always be to support pupils to feel a sense of belonging in school and to enjoy genuine, trusting relationships with one or more staff members. This is the foundation on which any further strategies or approaches need to be built upon.

  • use of trauma-informed practice, eg: Five to Thrive
  • use of whole setting approaches to promote wellbeing and resilience
  • policy and practice underpinned by relational approaches
  • use of relational and restorative practice to build, maintain and repair relationships
  • all behaviour should be understood as a form of communication
  • identification of key adult to build positive and trusting relationship
  • anti-bullying work
  • small group or 1 to 1 work with ELSA or equivalent
  • support available for staff working with CYP with SEMH via group or individual supervision or debrief sessions
  • emphasis on choice rather than control and "take up time" to respond to choice whenever possible
  • use of distraction techniques and giving responsibility
  • explicitly teaching de-escalation and self- regulation strategies - adults as stress and shame regulators through co-regulation
  • explicitly teach rules and routines, build self-esteem and develop social and emotional skills to all CYP including through use of PSHE, circle time and curriculum approaches
  • use of nurture principles nurtureuk: What is nurture? (opens new window)
  • close monitoring of attendance and proactive approach to Emotional Based School Avoidance (EBSA): (opens new window)
Identified barrier and/or needProvision and/or strategies: approaches, adjustments and specific interventions expected to be made by settings according to the ages

Difficulties participating and presenting as withdrawn or isolated

  • relationships are key: develop relationship with key adult - using relational practice and the PACE approach, attune to understand, share and acknowledge the CYP's experiences
  • develop belonging within the school community: provide roles or responsibilities in school, support friendships, encourage participation in extra curricular activities
  • assessment through teaching - e.g. are there parts of the curriculum that they find easier to manage than others? Use these to develop confidence
  • small group work e.g. friendship or social skills, nurture groups
  • ELSA or equivalent sessions with a trusted adult
  • backward chaining - bringing learner in at the end of assembly or school day
  • where age appropriate, make use of play based activities
  • establish interests, create opportunities to practise new things
  • buddying/peer mentoring
  • giving responsibility for looking after someone else
  • allow flexibility in curriculum and routine
  • emotionally based school avoidance (opens new window)

Displaying behaviours that challenge e.g. refusal to follow instructions, aggression, damage to property

  • adopt a relational approach to behaviour as a school-wide policy. Encourage self-reflection whereby staff can reflect on their own interactions and responses and consider whether an alternative response could lead to a different outcome?
  • ensure reasonable adjustments are made in order to differentiate for SEMH in the same way that we differentiate for learning
  • maintain a consistent messaging but flexible approach, e.g. "I want you to be in class learning" is the consistent message, but the approach to support this happening may vary or be flexible depending on individual needs
  • understand the basis for the behaviour e.g. what is the history/context?
  • understand that behaviour is a method of communication e.g. what purpose is the behaviour trying to achieve for the CYP? What are they trying to tell us with their behaviour? What need are they trying to meet?  What skills do they need to be taught?
  • use of choices to allow the CYP some control with the same end result e.g. would you like to complete this on the computer or hand write it?
  • teach the CYP different ways to get their needs met? E.g. develop social skills, strategies to regulate their emotions
  • develop readiness to learn through regulation strategies use restorative approaches
  • use of individual behaviour plans, Pastoral Support Plans and risk assessments
  • consideration of the routine, timetable, and transitions. Make stress as predictable, moderate, and controllable as we can
  • ensure all expectations are clear and explicit
  • staff to be aware of and monitor their own regulation and swap with another staff member when needed
  • detailed transition between year groups/phases of education
  • professional meetings to understand the behaviour
  • maintain positive communication with home/family e.g. what is going on at home, other agencies involvement
  • ensure support plans are regularly reviewed
  • ensure a consistent, whole-school approach to support strategies

Physical symptoms that are medically unexplained e.g. soiling, stomach pains

  • be curious and listen to the CYP
  • provide activities that are stress reducing e.g. games, dance, colouring, gardening, animals, outdoor activity and play, messy play, sensory activities
  • Keep a log and analyse pattern or trends to identify triggers

Attention difficulties

N.B. any provision or support should be provided in line with the needs of the CYP and is NOT dependant on any formal diagnosis

  • liaison with school nurse
  • understand the reasons, look for patterns
  • allow plenty of time for movement or frequent small concentration periods, sensory breaks and regulation activities
  • have a clear structure to the day
  • have clear expectations regarding behaviours and a clear and consistent response to behaviours
  • being aware of times of the day that may be more difficult, break down activities and verbal information into manageable chunks
  • Consideration of application of any reasonable adjustments that need to be made in line with the Equalities legislation

Developmental trauma and attachment difficulties

Low level disruption or attention needing behaviours, e.g.  frequent interruptions to learning, fiddling with objects
(See section on sensory and physical needs regarding physical sensitivity)

  • differentiated use of voice, gesture and body language
  • focus on reducing anxiety and thereby behaviours
  • flexible and creative use of rewards and consequences e.g. 'catch them being good'
  • positive reinforcement of expectations through verbal scripts and visual prompts
  • Provide a safe space in the setting
  • Consider giving sensory or regulatory breaks. 4 R's of co-regulation - Regulate, Relate, Reflect and Repair (TouchBase: Meet the team - Louise Michelle Bombèr (opens new window))

Difficulty in making and maintaining healthy relationships

  • small group/nurture group activities to support personal, social and emotional development
  • a range of differentiated opportunities for social and emotional development e.g. buddy systems, friendship strategies, circle time
  • adopt school-wide relational approaches

Difficulties following and accepting adult direction

  • put relationships at the centre of interactions with learners
  • look for patterns and triggers to identify what may be causing behaviours
  • positive scripts - positive language to re-direct, reinforce expectations e.g. use of others as role models
  • calming scripts to de-escalate, including for example, use of sand timers for calming and de-escalation time
  • limited choices to engage and motivate
  • flexible and creative use of rewards and consequences e.g. 'catch them being good' sticker charts
  • follow-lead-follow activities (reciprocal interaction)
  • provide structure-consistency without rigidity
  • visual timetable and use of visual cues i.e. sand timers to support sharing

Presenting as significantly unhappy or stressed. Behaviours that may reflect

  • Anxiety/depression
  • Self-harming
  • Substance misuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Developmental trauma
  • identify and build on preferred learning styles
  • provide a safe place/quiet area in the setting
  • feedback used to collaborate and plan with parent/carer, to ensure consistency between the home and setting
  • use of social stories to identify triggers and means of overcoming them
  • understanding what lies behind the behaviours
  • multi-professional approach (eg: MHST/BSS/EPS/Early Years Inclusion Team) looking at the history, when did the behaviour start to change?
  • liaison and collaboration with home to understand the wider context
  • provide sensory or regulatory breaks
  • encourage substitutes for self-harming behaviours e.g. elastic bands, marbles - after training on self-harm or seeking advice from MH professionals (MHST or CAMHS) National Self-Harm Network

Patterns of non- attendance

Sources of support

Share this page

Facebook icon Twitter icon email icon


print icon