Behaviour Interventions for SENCOs: Managing Behaviours

by , | Apr 9, 2023

Behaviour Interventions for SENCOs: Strategies for Managing Challenging Behaviours


As a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO), managing challenging behaviour is a key aspect of your role. Whether you work in a mainstream or a special educational setting, it is important to have a range of strategies in place to support children with challenging behaviours. In this article, we will explore some effective behaviour interventions that SENCOs can use to manage challenging behaviours.

Understanding Challenging Behaviours

Before we explore behaviour interventions, it is important to understand what we mean by challenging behaviours. Challenging behaviours are those that interfere with a child’s learning or social interactions, and are often persistent and intense. These behaviours may include aggression, self-injury, non-compliance, and disruptive behaviour. It is important to note that challenging behaviours are not intentional and may be a result of underlying difficulties, such as communication, sensory, or emotional regulation issues.

Creating a Positive Learning Environment

Creating a positive learning environment is crucial in managing challenging behaviours. A positive learning environment is one that is safe, structured, and predictable. To create a positive learning environment, SENCOs should:

• Ensure the classroom is well-organised and free from clutter
• Establish clear routines and expectations for behaviour
• Use positive reinforcement to encourage positive behaviours
• Provide opportunities for students to be successful
• Use visual supports to help students understand expectations and routines


Behaviour Support Plans

Behaviour support plans are individualised plans that outline strategies and interventions for managing challenging behaviours. These plans are developed in collaboration with the student, their parents, and other professionals, and are based on a functional behaviour assessment. Behaviour support plans may include:

• Identifying and addressing triggers for challenging behaviours
• Teaching replacement behaviours
• Providing positive reinforcement for positive behaviours
• Teaching self-regulation and coping strategies
• Providing opportunities for choice and control

Social Skills Training

Social skills training is an intervention that teaches children social skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and emotion regulation. Social skills training can be delivered in a group or individual setting and may include:

• Role-playing and modelling appropriate social behaviours
• Teaching social cues and perspective-taking
• Providing opportunities for social interaction and practice
• Teaching problem-solving and conflict resolution skills

Sensory Strategies

Sensory strategies are interventions that address sensory processing difficulties that may be contributing to challenging behaviours. Sensory strategies may include:

• Providing sensory breaks or sensory-rich environments
• Using sensory tools, such as weighted blankets or fidgets
• Modifying the classroom environment to reduce sensory overload
• Teaching students self-regulation strategies to manage sensory input



1. What are some common triggers for challenging behaviours?

Challenging behaviours can be triggered by a range of factors. Some common triggers may include:
• Sensory overload or sensory processing difficulties
• Communication difficulties or frustration with communication
• Emotional regulation difficulties, such as anxiety or anger
• Difficulty with transitions or changes in routine
• Lack of engagement or interest in the task or activity
• Physical discomfort or pain
It is important to identify these triggers and develop strategies to address them to prevent challenging behaviours from occurring.

2. How can I involve parents and other professionals in developing behaviour support plans?

Developing behaviour support plans is a collaborative process that involves parents, teachers, and other professionals who work with the student. Involving parents and professionals in the process helps to ensure that the plan is comprehensive and effective. Some ways to involve parents and professionals in developing behaviour support plans may include:
• Holding meetings to discuss the student’s behaviour and identify triggers and strategies
• Sharing information and progress reports regularly
• Encouraging parents and professionals to provide input and feedback on the plan
• Providing training and support for implementing the plan

3. What are some effective ways to teach social skills?

Teaching social skills requires a structured and consistent approach. Some effective ways to teach social skills may include:
• Role-playing and modelling appropriate social behaviours
• Using social stories or scripts to teach social cues and perspective-taking
• Providing opportunities for social interaction and practice
• Using games or other fun activities to reinforce social skills
• Reinforcing positive social behaviours with praise and positive reinforcement

4. Can sensory strategies be used for all students or only those with sensory processing difficulties?

While sensory strategies are typically used for students with sensory processing difficulties, they can be beneficial for all students. Providing sensory breaks or sensory-rich environments can help to reduce stress and improve focus and attention for all students. Additionally, teaching self-regulation strategies, such as deep breathing or mindfulness, can be beneficial for all students.

5. How can I track the effectiveness of behaviour interventions?

It is important to track the effectiveness of behaviour interventions to ensure that they are meeting the needs of the student. Some ways to track the effectiveness of behaviour interventions may include:
• Collecting data on the frequency and severity of challenging behaviours
• Conducting regular progress reviews with parents and professionals
• Modifying the plan as needed based on data and feedback


Managing challenging behaviours is a critical aspect of the SENCO role. By using a range of effective behaviour interventions, SENCOs can support students with challenging behaviours and create a positive learning environment. It is important to understand the triggers for challenging behaviours, involve parents and professionals in developing behaviour support plans, teach social skills, use sensory strategies, and track the effectiveness of behaviour interventions to ensure success.


Abigail Hawkins FCCT

Abigail Hawkins FCCT

Director of SENDCO Solutions

Abigail Hawkins was a SENCO for over 25 years and has worked with pupils with all types of needs.  Abigail has worked with Ed-Tech companies on developing their software and also been chair of governors for a multi-academy trust. Abigail now runs SENsible SENCO and SENDCO Solutions, with the aim of working with SENCOs and inclusion leaders across the UK to improve their support for SEND pupils. See our school services for more information.

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