Special education provision we expect

Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) support guidance

The SEN Support provision we expect all schools and settings to offer for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health support needs.

Suggested whole-school approaches:

  • Have a supportive ethos and environment which promotes respect and values diversity
  • Have a clear policy, consistently applied, to manage behaviour positively
  • Staff development to support their own wellbeing and that of children and young people (CYP)
  • Curriculum teaching and learning (RSHE, SMSC, Citizenship etc) to promote SEMH
  • Implement a whole setting approach (e.g. PATHS, Nurturing Schools, Mentally Healthy Schools) and help CYP explain, understand and find ways to manage their emotions through explicit teaching, modelling and reinforcement
  • Consider ‘Norfolk Steps’ training to support early intervention and help manage complex or challenging behaviour
  • Have effective pastoral systems which support emerging difficulties at an early stage
  • Work with and support parents and carers (e.g. support groups, coffee mornings, signposting key support services)
  • Provide appropriate training about SEMH and mental health to ensure staff confidence
  • Identify a senior lead for mental health who completed the DfE senior mental health lead training, as well as a mental health champion training.
  • Encourage multi-agency working to ensure effective support for families (e.g. Parent Support Adviser, Family Support Process)

Suggested SEND support strategies in the classroom:


  • Have clear classroom routines and explicit expectations for behaviour and work
  • Display classroom rules and routines for pupils to refer to and use visual prompts as reminders
  • Provide structure, organisation and predictability in the classroom environment
  • Provide visual support prompts (e.g. ‘Five things to do if you are stuck with your work’)
  • Allow access to an identified quiet or ‘calm-down’ space

Relationships and communication

  • Create a one-page profile involving parents/carers and the pupil in identifying how best to support
  • Plan targeted opportunities to build positive relationships with the pupil
  • Seat pupil by a more confident or settled peer or ‘buddy’
  • Identify a key person to talk about worries and support with problem solving

Social and emotional learning

  • Model, coach and reinforce skills for collaborative group work
  • Build self-confidence by finding out what CYP know about or are good at, and celebrating this
  • Teach CYP specific behavioural skills (e.g. how to ask for help)
  • Give them a responsibility or special role to increase self-esteem


  • Set tasks with clear goals, outputs and timescales for completion
  • Use short, clear instructions; recap and reinforce these during lessons.
  • Make tasks short, with frequent breaks and opportunities to move around
  • Provide ‘scaffolding’ in the form of writing frames, word mats, relevant classroom displays, access to technology
  • Remind them of a rule or expectation, rather than ‘telling them off.’ Label the behaviour, not the CYP. Say what you want them to do, rather than what you don’t
  • Make an effort to ‘catch them being good’ and praise. Use private signal system to let the CYP know when they are off task or behaving inappropriately

Suggestions for the SENDCo:

Download PEaSS condensed version