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Creating a Holistic Approach to Pupils' Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs

We spoke with Moji Omole, Deputy Headteacher and Designated Safeguarding Lead at Kensington Primary School, about how her school created a holistic approach to children's' social, emotional and mental health needs.

How can SENCOs effectively work with senior leaders, teachers and support and pastoral staff to create a holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing support for pupils with SEND?

The school has developed a curriculum which is broken down into academic, communication, health and culture. As part of the health curriculum we focus on physical health and emotional health. This is a universal approach to helping children develop their mental health and wellbeing. Children have an emotional health self-guided sessions every day and a full hour guided by their teachers once a week.

All staff are trained in emotion coaching so that they are able to support children further in their classrooms and around the school.

In terms of our targeted approaches we use a buy in service called Place2Be in which a councillor comes in to visit selected children on a weekly basis. Further to this we use CAHMS services on a half termly basis.

How do you determine when mental health concerns among pupils become ‘social, emotional and mental health needs’ as defined by the SEND Code of Practice, and how do you follow up with the appropriate provision?

We have a rigorous cause for concern process which enables teacher to highlight children and discuss their concerns. Meetings of this manner take place on a termly basis but the process is fluid and teachers can raise concerns continuously.

In terms of determining needs we look specifically for patterns in behaviour in school and at home, changes in personality, medical reports and safeguarding concerns. If we build up enough evidence we reach out to a range of outside agencies including CAHMS, Occupational Therapy, Social Services, and Child Development Services.

Keeping parents involved in this process is extremely important to us.

How do you collaborate with parents and carers on delivering a rounded approach to mental health and wellbeing, and signposting support for them without placing an additional burden on school staff?

We offer and invite parents to coffee mornings and give them the opportunity to listen to speakers discuss their experiences and concerns in and around mental health and wellbeing.

We have created a parent champions forum that enables parents to liaise with each other without consistent school input, they can access this through a WhatsApp group and parents express any key concerns to school.

Parents are signposted to the Ark in the Park program which supports parents in meeting emotional health needs of themselves and their children.

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