Case Studies

Social Emotional and Mental Health Study

Case Study 1: Year 6 pupil

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What were the presenting difficulties the school faced with this child?

  • Risk of permanent exclusion (previous permanent exclusions, managed move to our school in Year 6)
  • Disruptive, physical and verbally challenging behaviour.
  • Absences from class with the gap widening academically, socially and emotionally.
  • Extended (but frequently not well used) time with support staff – cost implication to the school.
  • Poor response to rewards/sanctions.
  • A short ‘window’ of opportunity for school to make a difference before transition up to KS3.

With support from The Mulberry Bush Outreach team, how did school respond to these difficulties?

Through the The Mulberry Bush Outreach project with the Mulberry Bush School we developed: Clinics – Clinics are meetings held with teaching teams and facilitated by Mulberry staff with the aim of developing shared understanding of the needs of the child causing concern, leading to adapted provision based on that understanding. Through clinics the team around the pupil gained a greater perspective of the messages his behaviour was communicating and subsequently how best to work ‘with’ him. Joint observations – Key staff in the team around the pupil took time to observe him in social situations as well as in class, interacting with his adults and staff. Time to reflect on what was observed enabled connections and next steps to be established. Interventions and adapted provision followed. A new timetable was developed for the child which included planned times of one-to-one support outside of class and clear expectations of the staff and task. This was shared and discussed with the child as well as weekly reviews with his parents.


Outcomes as a result of adapted provision

  • No more Fixed Term Exclusions between term 2 and term 6.
  • Positive links established with parents who felt included in the planning process for their son.
  • The pupil was more on task in lessons and less disruptive within class. Engaged in SATs and achieved Level 4’s in Maths and English.
  • Improved QCA scores, significantly in conduct score.
  • Successful and positive transition project in the summer term with new school being invited to clinics. This supported transition planning and ensured a ‘seamless’ induction into his new school where his new team shared a collective understanding of his needs and the subsequent provision needed.

Case Study 2: Year 1 pupil

A child had been demonstrating a high level of disruptive behaviour in Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), this escalated in Year 1. The Head Teacher was the only member of staff trained at an appropriate level to respond to this. The Head Teacher had to use physical restraint at one point. Parents requested support

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The Plan

  • Head Teacher arranged 3 twilight training sessions for whole staff team at The Witney Hub on the CAF TAC approach.
  • Head Teacher evaluated packages of training and support currently available for individual pupils.
  • Team teach training with the Mulberry Bush completed by whole staff team with a package that was delivered across the year 2013-2014.
  • Individual Behaviour Plan put in place in Sept 13 for pupil and a £1000 package of support for pupil was purchased with the view that the holistic approach taken would provide whole staff training that would benefit the whole school.

Mulberry Bush Child Focused Plan

STEP 1: The Mulberry Bush Outreach completed an observation of the pupil STEP 2: Behaviour as Communication and Team Teach training by the Mulberry Bush Outreach Team STEP 3: Manual Handling plan written and Behaviour Management Plan reviewed in the light of the Teach Team training. STEP 4: First Child Focused Workshop all afternoon- all staff involved in working with the pupil met for a whole afternoon that was lead by The Mulberry Bush Outreach. STEP 5: Head Teacher met with parents – parents agreed to establishing a consistent pattern for wrap around and nights at each house. This was the main turning point in the use of the positive/nurturing approach to supporting Social Emotional and Mental Health now in place as the school. Why? Because ground rules were set by The Mulberry Bush Outreach – that each member of the group was safe to tell the truth about how they were feeling during the session. Head Teacher reassured staff that no judgement would be made about their professional ability if they stated they were lacking confidence in working with the pupil. We established an emotionally safe environment to talk and a reflective culture.

What we discovered

We identified:

  • That the team were feeling embarrassed and lacked confidence in their ability to improve the behaviour of the pupil.
  • The school was not providing a consistent response
  • That the pupil was attending wrap around care and a child minder with little consistency across the week and this was also resulting in very long days.
  • The parents had divorced and the pupil was spending alternate nights at each house.

What worked?

We asked ‘What is this child communicating to us through this behaviour?’ “I feel unsure where i am going each day – I do not feel safe”  

  • All staff- office staff- LSA’s- teaching staff- Servery staff greeted the pupil with unconditional love every day- everyday a new clean slate.
  • Teach Team Manual handling training resulted in team approach to most challenging behaviour- resulting in consistency across team.
  • Signposted supported to the Hub- parents accessed parent training and support. Individualised Behaviour Plan was shared across all settings and with the Hub.
  • Nurture training planned and the development of our Nurture provision has broadened staff understanding of Social Emotion and Mental Health.
  • Strategy of unconditional love was agreed between home and school.
  • TA and pupil had a toy each that were placed together when pupil got to school- transition toy. Communication book was shared across all settings.
  • Pupil no longer needs and Individualised Behaviour Plan!
  • Pupil still needs some further support but can now be fully assessed for any other underlying SEN whereas last year the ‘Behaviour’ got in the way.
  • Staff levels of professional dialogue regarding Social Emotional and Mental Health has improved 100%.
  • Whole staff team meet each short term to review the selection of pupils attending ‘in house’ Nurture provision.
  • Transition of pupils to local school supported by HT/SENCO meetings and Nurture Leads meet.

“The Mulberry Bush Outreach enables teachers and others to work together to learn to understand what children are trying to communicate by their behaviour… The Mulberry Bush Outreach staff empower those they work with to feel confident about changing how they think and feel about children’s behaviour and hence how they respond.”

(Sian Morcom, Ex Deputy Principle Educational Psychologist and Behaviour and Attendance Team Leader)

Mulberry Bush Outreach


The Mulberry Bush Learning & Research Centre
93 High Street
OX29 7RH

Tel. 01865 594700
Registered Charity 309565