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Wellbeing for secondary school students with SEN

Author: Suzanne O’Connell

The DfE has published The Wellbeing of Secondary School Pupils with Special Educational Needs: Research Report, written by Matt Barnes and Eric Harrison. It focuses on the wellbeing of children with SEN at secondary schools and uses a happiness rating scale and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire to arrive at its conclusions.

The researchers found that children with SEN have similar levels of unhappiness to children without SEN when it came to their appearance and their family life as a whole. However, there were differences when it came to their school work, their school and their friends.

Children with SEN are more likely to be unhappy than children without SEN when it comes to:

  • the school they go to (19% of children with SEN compared to 7% of those without)
  • their school work (13% of children with SEN compared to 6% of those without)
  • their friends (8% of those with SEN compared to 4% of those without)
  • their life as a whole (17% of those with SEN compared to 11% of those without).

A group of young children are playing with toy blocks together at a table.

There are no recommendations as such, but it does highlight the importance of taking account of happiness and wellbeing when supporting pupils with SEND if we want them to enjoy their time in schools as well as achieving more.

The Wellbeing of Secondary School Pupils with Special Educational Needs: Research Report, July 2017 can be seen here. There’s a huge amount of data to look at and consider.

About the author:

Dr. Suzanne O’Connell is a freelance writer specialising in education. Prior to this she taught for 23 years and was a headteacher of a junior school in Nuneaton for 11 years.

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