Reasonable adjustments and quality first teaching strategies
Identified barrier and
Provision and strategies: approaches, adjustments and specific
interventions expected to be made by settings according to the ages and stages of the learners
Environment: school and classroom
Pupils with SEMH need a learning environment which provides a safe space to learn
- Classroom well organised and labelled (with picture symbols).
- Keep learning spaces as clear from clutter as possible and consider if there is too much sensory stimulus or not enough.
- Where possible, create a quiet area both for working and as a ‘quiet time’ zone.
- Ensure that tools and equipment are easily accessible and available for use.
- Allow pupils to have a safe place to store belongings and ‘listening’ (fiddle) toys.
- Provide alternative seating at carpet time, if this is a challenge.
- Play calming music where appropriate.
- A safe space is important to have in the school, and in the classroom. A popup tent with a security blanket can work well.
- Are learners with SEMH needs seated in a way that meets their needs eg, away from windows, near a clear exit, etc. It is important this is discussed with the learner.
Knowing the learner and having a positive relationship
Pupils with SEMH difficulties often do not have a strong sense of being belonging and may feel that they are unlovable.
- Take time to find learner’s strengths and praise these – ensure that the learner has opportunities to demonstrate their skills to maintain self-confidence. ‘Catch’ the learner being good and emphasise positives in front of other learners and staff (where appropriate).
- Give the learner a classroom responsibility to raise self-esteem.
- Use learner’s name and ensure you have their attention before giving instructions.
- Make use of different seating and grouping arrangements for different activities.
- Personalise teaching where possible to reflect learner’s interests.
- Have a range of simple, accessible activities that the learner enjoys to use as ‘calming’ exercises.
- Legitimise movement by getting learner to take a message, collect an item, use a ‘listening toy’ if necessary.
- Listen to the learner, giving them an opportunity to explain their behaviours.
- Use restorative justice.
- Refer learners regularly to the classroom code of conduct, whole class targets and use consistently – ensuring that supply staff apply same consistency.
- Look at patterns and triggers to identify what may be causing the behaviours for example, an antecedents, behaviour and consequences (ABC chart).
- Offer choices – both of which must be acceptable.
- Liaison and collaboration with home is essential to understand the wider picture.
- Ensure that information is gathered from a range of agencies.
- Create a risk assessment which identifies triggers as well as preventative and de-escalation strategies. Use this as a part of a behaviour support plan or pastoral support plan.
- Ensure that all information is shared with current school staff as well as for staff who don’t know the pupil - new class or new school.
- Consider a buddy or peer mentoring.
- Distraction techniques work well – find out what the learner is interested in so that this is possible.
- Are there underlying, as yet undiagnosed SEND such as a speech and language difficulty?
Pupils with SEMH difficulties benefit from staff who maintain calm and positive no matter how challenging the behaviour. This ensures that they feel safe and also a sense of belonging
- Communicate in a calm, clear manner. Think about what you say,
how you say it as well as how your body language may be perceived.
- Never use language which humiliates or embarrasses a pupil.
Avoid using ‘blame’ or trying to make a learner feel guilty about
- Keep your language positive, particularly in the first 10 minutes.
Focus on engaging the learner rather than any low-level behaviour.
- Make expectations for behaviour explicit by giving clear targets, explanations and modelling.
- Keep instructions, routines and rules short, precise and positive
- Praise is specific and named.
- Use a visual timer to measure and extend time on task – start small and praise, praise, praise.
- Teach learner how to use post-it notes for questions and ideas rather than interruptions (when appropriate).
- Positive reinforcement of expectations through verbal scripts and visual prompts.
- Communicate positive achievements – no matter how small – with home and encourage home to do the same. Could be in the form of a ‘Golden moments’ or ‘Good News’ book or ‘Good notes’ to be collected in a small plastic wallet.
- Give a set time for written work and do not extend into playtime to ‘catch up’ – the learner will need these breaks.
- Humour is often a great way to de-escalate a situation but ensure that this is never sarcasm.
- Avoid reprimanding a learner in front of the class or in public.
- Be mindful of not talking too much. When a learner is in a heightened state, their ability to listen is diminished.
- Never threaten a consequence which is impossible to enforce.
Accessing the curriculum: teaching and Learning
Pupils with SEMH often feel incapable, with low self-esteem. They do not always have the resilience to try something new and often do not persevere if something is perceived as being too difficult
- Create a climate within the classroom where making mistakes is positive and okay.
- Clear lesson structure with learning objectives presented orally and visually.
- Identify and build on a range of learning styles.
- Provide lots of opportunities for kinaesthetic learning eg, practical activities, experiential learning, multi-sensory resources.
- Chunk instructions and support with visual cues.
- Use interactive strategies eg, learners have cards or whiteboards to hold up answers, come to the front to take a role, etc.
- Activities and listening broken up with breaks for more kinaesthetic activities.
- Ensure groupings provide positive role models.
- Provide visual timetables and task lists – may need to be for a short period of time depending on the learner.
- Provide visual cues to support expectations.
- Give breaks between tasks and give legitimate ‘moving around’ activities eg, Brain Gym, Wake Up and Shake Up, MIND Up.
- Transition from whole class work to independent or group work is taught, clearly signalled and actively managed.
- Training - ensure that you have all the knowledge you need to meet the needs within your classroom.