Social, mental and emotional health in schools: SEN reforms and some challenges for parents and families.

  • Helen L Knowler (Participant)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic talk, debate, discussion


In this presentation I explore the potential implications of recent changes to the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (DfE, 2014) for the parents and families of children and young people who are identified as having Social, Mental and Emotional needs in school settings. In the UK, from September 2014 the label ‘Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties’ will be replaced with ‘Social, Mental and Emotional health’ and the focus of my analysis will be on the ways that this change in language might impact upon relationships between teachers and parents and families in schools. I argue, that as well as some very obvious challenges that this change of nomenclature brings regarding training, development, assessment and resourcing, there are likely to be a range of subtle effects in practice that while less obvious are equally important to consider. Drawing from Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, I will look to promote discussion about the ways in which the introduction of the words ‘mental health’ in SEN discourse could change the ways in which parents and families are supported by and engaged with in schools settings and while I am keen to highlight the positive potential for change that this new document offers, I reflect on the importance of being on our critical ‘guard’ when using ‘new’ labels
Period25 Mar 2014
Event titleFamily Empowermemt Symposium
Event typeSeminar
LocationBristol, United KingdomShow on map


  • emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • children and young people
  • parents and families