So, what is it then; Special Need, SEMH or both? An assessment framework to value their interplay.

Project Details


Children's behaviours are shaped by their life experiences and the surroundings they are exposed to. It is common for children who have suffered/witnessed abuse to have Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) difficulties (Denham, 2021). In England, the identification and support of such difficulties is included in the Special Educational Needs (SEN) code of practice due to the high overlap and unclear distinction between SEMH and SEN (Norwich & Eaton, 2014). However, research has yet to bring together assessment frameworks that focus on both of these areas simultaneously. In the SEMH context, standardised tools are often used to assess their emotional competence (Denham et al., 2016) to design support strategies for these children. While this paper analyses the efficacy of some of these assessment tools, it also identifies how a relational pedagogy characterised by spontaneous expression of love and affection can facilitate the development of Saarni's eight skills of emotional competence (Saarni, 1999). Therefore, it is relational pedagogy, that will enable us to explore the interplay between these SEMH and SEN to identify those aspects of SEN that are linked to the Social, Emotional and Mental Health dimension. As there tends to be a high percentage of disability statements in cases where children have experienced and/or have been exposed to abuse (McLaughlin et al., 2012; Hunt, Slack, & Berger, 2017), the paper will also explore whether the SEMH characteristics are disguised as SEN difficulties and vice versa. The aim is to design an assessment framework that will inform practitioners and researchers globally in both these fields and provide recommendations for further research.
Effective start/end date1/09/2331/05/24

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education


  • SEND
  • SEMH
  • relationsl pedagogy
  • assessment


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