Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) High Needs Pathway

The SEMH High Needs Team was conceptualised in the light of several factors:

  • The closure of the Auckland Pupil Referral Unit
  • The exclusion rate, particularly in Primary aged children
  • The inequality in access to specialist educational support for children and young people with SEMH needs, due to the trading of SEMH support services
  • The reflection that in some cases, referrals to more specialist placements were not able to go ahead as panels felt schools ‘could have done more’ to support children in mainstream and had not followed a ‘graduated’ approach

The work of the SEMH High Needs team is primarily to support the prevention of exclusion through early intervention and responsive support.

It is envisaged that the intensive nature of the SEMH High needs team will impact on the level and type of exclusions, will reduce the severity of perceived need and increase feelings of confidence in parents and teachers, as well as impacting on factors that are individual to the child, the family and the school context.

The team is made up of teachers from the SISS SEMH team, Inclusion Support Practitioners, a play therapist and members of the Community Educational Psychology Team who all work together to support the pupil, family and school.

The High Needs Pathway aims to offer support for pupils who have SEMH as their primary area of need and are at risk of exclusion. It is a proactive measure which is designed to complement existing SEMH and Education Psychology involvement and is not envisaged to provide an ‘emergency service’ for exclusions.

It will be important that school colleagues carefully consider the support they have provided for children and young people (as described on the accompanying High Needs Team checklist). This includes following a Graduated Approach, with universal and targeted SEMH support and schools seeking advice from appropriate outside agencies. If these things are in place and school have implemented and reviewed proactive strategies, requests for involvement will be considered by the High Needs Panel, who meet regularly to discuss each request.

The SEMH High Needs work will begin at a planning meeting (usually held on a Wednesday) with existing services, parents and school colleagues. At this meeting, individual targets will be set, timelines will be determined, and a review meeting will be scheduled, usually at 6 and 12 weeks.

Each child/ young person, family and school will access a tailored service comprising of a SEMH teacher, ISP and access to CEPS or play therapist support. Work will largely take place in school, but may also be at home with the family, depending on need.

The team will support the school in implementing individual and strategic interventions to best meet the pupil’s needs. We expect that the school will assign a named member of staff for the pupil who will ensure that planned actions are undertaken and reviewed, and that communication is effective between the team, school and home.

Requests for support from the SEMH High Needs Pathway are made through the Single Panel for Alternative Provision

At review meetings, we will assess if the pupil is still at risk of permanent exclusion and if they have made progress with their targets. If the pupil is still at risk of exclusion, we will continue the plan until a point that we feel we can plan for a successful exit. At this time, it is hoped that the pupil and family’s needs are better understood, provision to meet needs is clearly identified and that school feels confident in their ability to build capacity in school to facilitate continuation of support and meet the pupil’s needs.

A range of data will be collected to assess the success of the intervention. This will include individual targets (TMEs), exclusion data, parent/carer feedback, school feedback and pupil feedback.

Reviews, evaluations and data will be collected and shared on an annual basis. This evidence will form the basis of any changes that are made to the pathway.

If you have any feedback at all at any stage about the process of request for support, or anything else, please email and with a subject line of ‘SEMH evaluation comments’.