Identifying the causes of challenging behaviour

Tackle challenging behaviour by identifying the pupil's underlying needs. Find information on the different types of assessment you can use.

Last reviewed on 8 September 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 6461
Contents
  1. Begin by discussing the behaviour with the pupil and their parents
  2. Investigate whether they have an unmet mental health need
  3. Consider whether SEN could be a factor 
  4. Request a multi-agency assessment for more serious concerns
  5. Use the outcome of the assessments to develop a behaviour support plan 

If a pupil's displaying challenging behaviour, you'll need to consider whether it's the result of an underlying need (or needs), such as:

  • Special educational needs (SEN)
  • Learning difficulties 
  • Difficulties with communication 
  • Mental health issues
  • Issues at home (e.g. bereavement, abuse, neglect, criminal exploitation)
  • Issues within their social group (e.g. being bullied)

This is set out in paragraph 44 of the DfE’s behaviour in schools guidance.

It's much easier to tackle the challenging behaviour once you know what need the pupil is communicating via the behaviour. In order to do this, you will need to assess the pupil.

Begin by discussing the behaviour with the pupil and their parents

Next, consider