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12/06/2023  •  Blog, Career centre

SEMH teacher – roles, responsibilities and how to become one

If you’re a teacher motivated by helping children with special educational needs, you may find an SEMH teacher role rewarding and suited to your strengths.

We’ve put together a complete guide to this type of work, including the key responsibilities, necessary qualifications needed, valuable skills to possess and how to enter the profession.

Keep reading to find out more about the role of an SEMH teacher and how to grow your career in this area.

What is an SEMH teacher?

An SEMH teacher educates and supports students with social, emotional and mental health needs. They champion their differences while helping them to cope with their symptoms, overcome obstacles to their learning and feel better able to manage the demands of day-to-day life. This is so that they can develop to their full potential and feel more at ease in themselves so they can succeed in mainstream society.  

SEMH students may experience issues such as: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Self-harming 
  • Communication challenges 
  • Difficulty expressing or regulating emotions 
  • Problems making friends 
  • Troubled relationships with parents and other adults 
  • Medical symptoms such as frequent stomach aches and headaches 

Find out more below about the responsibilities of an SEMH teacher.

What does an SEMH teacher do?

An SEMH teacher is responsible for determining the most appropriate and effective support for their students. You’ll directly support children and young people through the curriculum while ensuring the correct provision of resources within the educational setting.

When children and young people experience barriers to academic performance, you’ll look into understanding the underlying reasons and take the lead in helping them to get the most from their education. In addition to inspiring children’s learning, SEMH teachers have to cater to the individual personal needs of students.

SEMH teachers often work in cooperation with other specialists such as counsellors, social workers, therapists and educational psychologists. Taking a holistic approach to children’s development is an essential part of performing the role well. For this reason, it is also important to monitor outside factors that may be impacting student wellbeing, flagging them to relevant authorities or school stakeholders if necessary.

Important skills and qualities for a SEMH teacher to possess

Strong communication skills

It is imperative for an SEMH teacher to have good communication skills. Building constructive relationships with students is key. This means encouraging open communication with each child, building their self-esteem through personalised support and letting them know you’ll be there for them, whatever they’re going through. Not only will you have to communicate effectively with students, but you’ll also advise and influence school stakeholders on the correct ways to deliver learning and appropriate care.

Interpersonal skills

You’ll need to have strong interpersonal skills and a high level of empathy. Whenever children experience difficulties, you’ll need to be able to help them get back on track quickly. You have to show children that you believe in them and their abilities. It is also vital that you always consider the whole picture when understanding children’s behaviour, identifying the most effective techniques that will help each child to thrive.

Browse our SEN job vacancies

At Liquid, we have a wide range of SEN jobs available. Browse our vacancies and apply today.

A positive attitude

A positive attitude is also essential. An SEMH teacher’s commitment to their students’ progression should be underpinned by positive reinforcement. Recognition and praise will help children to stay motivated and continue progressing.


At the same time, you’ll have to be resilient and have a good knowledge of how to handle challenging situations. You will have to assert healthy boundaries and be confident in de-escalating disruptive behaviour. You should also be able to provide effective alternatives to discipline for managing challenging behaviour.

Strategic planning and implementation skills

Your performance in the role will also be helped by strategic planning and implementation skills. You’ll often have more freedom than a mainstream teacher in how you deliver lessons, create long-term education plans and establish systems for recording and monitoring performance. The role will also involve aspects such as bringing innovation to the school curriculum and breaking through barriers in delivering learning.

How to become a SEMH teacher

If you’re looking into SEMH teacher jobs, it’s useful to know that SEMH is a type of special educational need, therefore falling under the category of SEN teaching. You would usually be employed by a local authority or trust. 

Anyone with a degree and qualified teacher status (QTS) can look to become an SEMH teacher. You would need to have studied for a Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a BA/BSc with QTS. If you studied something else at undergraduate level, you can gain a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). You can look at courses with a particular focus on SEN teaching. 

You could pursue SEMH teacher roles after working in mainstream teaching. Alternatively, you could look to start your career specialising in this area if you have the appropriate qualifications. However, it is important to know that some schools may not recruit teachers into SEMH positions if they don’t have prior experience in mainstream teaching. 

Your employability will be helped by first gaining employment in a general educational setting. You could approach schools about carrying out voluntary work too. There is also a scheme available in England called Get School Experience, which places teachers in work experience with primary or secondary schools. 

SEMH job opportunities at Liquid

At Liquid, we’re passionate about helping you to find your next role. Your career matters to us, so we go the extra mile to help you take those exciting next steps. 

Not only will we assign you a dedicated recruitment consultant, but we will also provide the resources and support to help you continue developing professionally. We’re experts in your field, so we know how to help you get ahead in the sector. 

Register with Liquid to discuss your career and find out about our current job opportunities

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