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Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH)

What are SEMH difficulties?

The SEND Code of Practice identifies social, emotional and mental health difficulties as one of the four main categories of SEND.

Every school is required to identify and address the SEND of the pupils that they support and must use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEND gets the support they need – in this instance, this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEMH needs.

According to the Code, 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 These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour.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. The underlying causes may be environmental difficulties at home or school or both.

Whatever the root cause(s), SEMH needs can be challenging for both a child or young person and those around them to cope with and, in some instances, can place a child or young person at risk of exclusion.

The Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) Team

The SEMH Team (previously known as the Behaviour Support Team) takes a lead role in developing provision for young people with SEMH needs within schools and settings. The team consists of experienced advisory teachers, family workers and specialist behaviour support workers, who are all strategically situated around the county.

As an experienced team of individuals, well known by schools and settings across Devon and the South West, the SEMH Team has a long record of well-evaluated, high-quality work which is designed to develop and empower school staff, increasing their capacity to meet the needs of the children and young people with whom they work. The benefits of working with us include:

  • increased staff confidence and reduction in stress
  • improved learning outcomes for all children
  • improvements in universal, targeted and specialist SEMH provision
  • meeting the demands of the Ofsted framework
  • increased knowledge and understanding of SEMH needs within schools and settings

Who we support

We support

  • primary maintained and academy schools
  • secondary maintained and academy schools
  • specialist settings
  • nursery transitions to schools

within Devon, across the South West and beyond.

Our support

The SEMH Team offers a wide range of tailor-made support including:

  • bespoke group and whole school training including attachment based mentoring, PIPS (physical intervention and preventative strategies), supporting SEMH through small group work, developing nurture groups, NQT support, how the brain works, an introduction to practical counselling skills to promote effective learning and restorative approaches
  • whole class observations, supporting school staff to develop Individual school based plans, personalised curriculums and timetables, behaviour care plans and individual risk assessment
  • whole school, team and individual solution-focused coaching
  • advice and guidance for statutory processes
  • developing in-house systems to monitor, review and evaluate efficient and effective support of those with identified SEMH needs, including audits of policy and practice

Devon graduated response

The graduated response tool has been developed to support Devon schools. The tool outlines some of the practices and adaptations that are part and parcel of Quality First Teaching (QFT): the inclusion of all pupils in high-quality everyday personalised teaching.

Devon graduated response

Requesting access to SEND support

Schools and settings wishing to access SEND support should read the guidance and submit a request for access to SEND support form.

Request for access to SEND support