Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH)

Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH)

We are a team of specialist teachers and practitioners working within the Social, Communication, Interaction, & Learning Team (SCILT) alongside the other specialist areas of Communication and Interaction, Cognition and Learning and Early Years.

Schools and settings can make individual referrals for children and young people presenting with SEMH from reception age onwards. The referrals are not part of any traded service as they are subsidised in line with the other SCIL Team areas. More information about how to access our service can be found here:

0-25 Specialist Teaching and Support Services

Presentations of SEMH

Children and Young People may present with SEMH at any point on this continuum:

Low level incidence may be at the early stages of a concern; a sudden change in behaviour, persistent low level classroom disruption or difficulties settling to learn, things which would be managed in class.

Medium level incidence may include features of low level but also include increased identifiable concerns related to communication difficulties, managing emotions, deterioration in progress, attendance problems. Parents may report issues at home. It may be that other agencies are also involved and other classroom support has been implemented through the SENCo, phase leaders, pastoral staff, middle leaders. An MSP would need to be in place.

High level incidence may include features already discussed but the C/YP may be having fixed term exclusions, may be difficult to reach, struggling to respond to the measures in place, a measurable impact on others is observed. There may be a MSP or working towards EHCA or an EHCP may be in place or being sought.

Critical Risk incidence may occur with a C/YP with any of the above or may be a sudden change where there is a build-up of fixed term exclusions and risk of permanent exclusion.

Inclusion Panel

Schools and settings may find that a C/YP is at the critical end of the matrix following an incident or series of incidents and refer to the local authority for assistance, support and advice. Sara Burgess sits on this panel which forms part of the LA response and each case is examined with a view to offering support in the capacities described on this page.

When to involve our service

  • With reference to the model above, the earlier the better
  • To prepare for big transitions between the key stages
  • When a C/YP starts to get fixed term exclusions
  • At the onset of mental health difficulties or sudden changes in presentation
  • To support EHCA or changes in primary need

How we work

SEMH Specialist practitioners have a core role to support building capacity within a setting.  Although they may do some individual work with a C/YP it is always best practice for the setting to provide a member of staff who can also engage with the provision they deliver.  This would enable the setting to embed the provision following the end of the support. They usually work under the guidance and direction of a specialist teacher to support the setting to embed the suggested strategies. They may also contribute to the assessment process for the specialist teacher.


SEMH Specialist teachers’ core approach is to spend some time building up a picture of how the young person has arrived at the presentation which led to the referral. The more information that can be included in the referral the better, including (with appropriate permissions) any other relevant reports and assessments done by the school or other professionals.


The specialist teacher will spend some time assessing the young person through observation in various situations in the referring school. There may be other assessment tools that may be employed as appropriate, such as the Boxall Profile for Children and Young People. It is good practice to meet with the parents of the referred C/YP and include their views to understand what is happening. If there is a multi-agency approach already in progress, we would expect to be part of that team.


Following the assessment/gathering information period, the specialist teacher will provide advice to the setting on the range of provision and strategies that would need to be employed to support the C/YP to reduce the presenting features first observed and ultimately be able to access the setting’s educational offer.


Specialist teachers work in accordance with the ‘assess, plan, do, review’ cycle promoted within the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice.

Matrix of need link -


We have strong links with Nurture UK and we can help you set up nurturing provision in a format to suit your needs. We passionately believe that linking provision to the developmental needs of the C/YP will support their progress, well-being and mental health and promote inclusion. We believe that the six principles of nurture can form a solid foundation to learning and progress and we can support your journey into this area.


We also host a termly network meeting. Details of this can be found on our nurture groups page.

Training, coaching and consultancy

This is part of the SCILT traded offer. A range of pre-set courses is available which can be found in the brochure on skills4bradford. However, if there is something different that you require, we can offer a more bespoke course for your setting tailored around your local needs.

This may include such topics as:

  • policy development,
  • learning walks,
  • staff coaching,
  • training in specific SEMH provision,
  • whole class observation with SEMH focus,
  • site audits
  • support to set up a nurture group
  • support to set up a learning support provision for SEMH
  • managing alternative provision
  • modelling strategy to staff.

Contacts are on


Page owned by Lynda Hitchen, last updated on 09/05/2022. This page has been viewed 7,901 times.