SEND• 3 Min read

10th September 2021

Working In SEMH Schools

Mental health used to be a taboo subject, not many people admitted to being ‘crazy’ or ‘manic’ due to the old fashioned ways of ‘dealing’ with diagnosed people. Lobotomies, asylums and forms of torture were all ways people were ‘treated’. Thankfully now, anxiety, depression, bipolar and borderline personality disorders etc are recognised as medical needs and people diagnosed with these disorders are getting the help, support and medication they need to live a full, happy and content life

What Do SEMH Schools Do?

The term SEMH was coined in 2014 within the SEND code of practice to replace EBD & BESD. SEMH stands for Social, Emotional, Mental Health, This means that children diagnosed with SEMH have trouble in building and maintaining relationships with peers and adults; they can also struggle to engage with learning and to cope in the classroom without additional strategies and interventions. Children with SEMH will often feel anxious, scared and misunderstood.

There are specialist SEND schools, referred to as SEMH schools, where children who have been diagnosed with a Mental Health need can go to study and to sit exams. These schools usually provide a holistic and therapeutic approach to education, allowing children who would usually struggle to thrive within a mainstream school. Alongside the Teachers and Support Staff that the school works with, Therapists, Psychologists and other external agencies contribute to ensure that each and every child has the best education possible

What Are The Additional Needs Of Pupils In A SEMH School?

Each child within a SEMH school has an individual need and an individual care plan (EHCP). Some children within a SEMH school would have been affected by a deep-rooted trauma such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, neglect, gang affiliation, knife crime, gun crime, or substance misuse. Some children may have a Tier 4 Mental Health Need such as attachment disorders, eating disorders, chronic anxiety or self-harm.

As well as supporting those diagnosed with SEMH, you may come across children who also have a dual diagnosis of Autism and other Learning Difficulties.

Things To Know When Working in A SEMH School:

  • Self-care is vital – You need to take time out after school hours to switch off and relax
  • Enjoy the little things, the laughs, the progress, the relationships you build and the differences you can make
  • Be compassionate – acknowledge every child with a smile and a hello/goodbye, you may be one of the only people who acknowledge them
  • Be a role model for your pupils and be prepared to advocate for them
  • Be reflective – forgive quickly and move on, starting each day with a fresh slate

At Engage, our dedicated SEND team are able to support you at every stage of your career – from helping you find the role that fits your skills to providing ongoing training and development opportunities.

We recruit for the following roles in SEMH schools:

  • Teaching Assistant/Learning Support Assistant
  • Behaviour Specialist
  • Outreach
  • Teacher
  • Pastoral Care Coordinator
  • Senior Leadership

Applications for these roles are encouraged from:

  • Psychology Graduates
  • Carers
  • Support Workers
  • Social Workers
  • Qualified Teachers (Primary, Secondary & SEND)
  • Youth Offenders
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
  • Anyone who has a strong passion for mental health.

Think A Role In SEMH Could Be Right For You?

Connect with our expert SEND team - with over 40 years of experience, they can talk you through all of our training and opportunities and match your skills with your ideal role.


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