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All schools and colleges are under pressure to show how they are increasing pupil attainment and achievement. Centre to being able to drive improvements for children and young people are settings developing a whole school approach to social, emotional wellbeing.

Schools through the SEND Partnership Board Projects emphasised how important it was to accept that the child/family has challenges and is part of the whole school community. The expectation that reasonable adjustments and ‘best endeavours’ will be made to enable the child to succeed. Schools should not be telling students “You/they aren’t going anywhere.”

In some schools, staff needed support to shift how they viewed the child’s behaviour: from seeing it as ‘manipulative and controlling’, to developing a therapeutic understanding and accompanying this with a more positive use of language. SENDCo and other staff modelling the use of language and strategies helped to shift staff culture. It was important to see challenging behaviour as an expression of needs not being met i.e. physical or emotional. In other words, behaviour as a form of communication – the child is not being naughty – his or her behaviour is telling us we haven’t met his/her needs yet in an appropriate way and/or expectations are too high.

Whole school behaviour policies can be key at driving this change.

The School/College Behaviour Policy should reflect the needs of:

  • children and young people with adverse childhood experiences; and
  • SEMH pupils – this could specifically include a reference to SEMH needs of pupils.

The school policy could be supported by an action plan/risk assessment enabling the whole school team to be consistent in approach and understanding of need.

Last updated 15 December 2020

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