FF&E for SEMH Schools

What does SEMH mean?

Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs are a type of special educational need in which children/young people have severe difficulties in managing their emotions and behaviour. They often show inappropriate responses and feelings to situations.

The most common causes of SEMH are believed to include the following:

  • Attachment history (lack of acceptance /needs being met /emotional warmth / positive feedback / managing emotional response by caregiver);
  • Trauma history (domestic violence, abuse, neglect, bullying, violent crime, social exclusion, hate prejudice, loss);
  • Current family dynamics;
  • Other systems around the child (school, community, society).

Did you know?

1 in 2 Pupils who are permanently excluded have a diagnosis of SEMH needs.

Experiencing SEMH

Children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional and social development may have immature social skills and find it difficult to make and sustain healthy relationships. These difficulties may be displayed through the young person becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as through challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour.

SEMH can manifest as difficulties relating to problems of mood(anxiety or depression), problems of conduct (oppositional defiance and more severe conduct problems including aggression), self-harming, substance abuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained.

Some children and young people may have recognised disorderssuch as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) attachment disorder, pervasive development disorder, an anxiety disorder, or, more rarely, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Our expertise and how we can add value to your project

Specialist Education FF&E consultancy

Using our 10+ year experience in the industry, we anticipate the future and consider adaptability in the spaces we design. We want to understand you, meet your key stakeholders and keep in regular contact to ensure you get the most value out of our service. Ensuring the correct furniture and layouts are considered with regards to SEMH needs is paramount.

Interior Design, 3D visualisation

Our exeprienced team’s approach to interior design balances many aspects. We always come out of a project creating functional spaces that meet our clients design needs and are always compliant with the most current building regulation. Our client is able to see the spaces in 3D before sign off, so no suprises!


As an independent furniture supplier we can procure the best deal for your project, due to our long-term established relationships with some of the UK’s best furniture manufacturers. We can supply FF&E that is made to the highest standards within budget.


Our expertise in project and site management means we make the entire process from procurement to installation – not only efficient, but completely stress free to our clients.

Key considerations for the FF&E in classrooms


Due to the nature of these students lashing out in an irrational manner, often a chair might be the first thing that could be used in rage. A single piece injection moulded plastic chair is suitable as it is lightweight and doesn’t pose as much risk of hurting someone if thrown contrary to a chair with a metal frame which could cause a significant amount of damage is a connection is made with another person. Non-upholstered chairs / easy clean are recommended to in these environments due to the occasional incontinence cases. This chair does not pose any additional cost in comparison to a mainstream school.


Tables can remain as fully welded MFC top but with a spray PU edge for durability. Usually, SEMH pupils sit separated from one another so they would either have one 600×600(mm) square table to themselves or a 1200×600(mm) depending on the size of the classroom and pupil numbers (which are usully quite low, 8-10 pupils).


All storage units should be fixed to the walls to avoid pupils pulling them down, most have doors and are lockable to avoid distraction. Some SEMH specific schools have a large single fitted Teaching wall to the from of the classroom which emcompasses all of the storage to the front of the classroom. In most cases, separate storage rooms are necessary also to stop students accessing to teaching materials.

Fitted Furniture

Worktops are generally made from solid grade laminate as this is a more robust material when it comes to vandalism. This would be an uplift in cost of around 30% compared to a standard MDF worktop which is deemed suitable in standard classrooms in mainstream schools. Robust door hinges to cupboards at around 270 degrees are required in comparison to the 180 degree hinges used to avoid the door becoming rigid and easy to break off if kicked. Handles are to be recessed so that they cannot be easily clenched resulting in the cupboard doors being easily yanked off. End panels need to be slightly thicker than normal to withstand the force if kicked.

Flexibility for Teaching

Some classrooms will be used all day for different types of teaching so where possible it is important to ensure that the space can be used flexibly and the furniture can be reconfigured. There needs to be areas in which a dividing screen can be provided so that 1-to -1 teaching can take place.

Other spaces

Specialist Practical rooms such as Food Technology and Design Technology are great spaces in which to learn outside of a general classroom. They can inspire students and can give an insight into some potential career choices.

Induction hobs are recommended due to safety, minimising risks of students burning themselves.

All cutlery and utensils must be locked away in a separate storage space as these could potentially be taken and used as weapons.

Workstations should be visible from all angles of the classroom for proper supervision.

Calming rooms should be equipmed with low stimulant interiors and have a robust seating solution to withstand kicks and episodes of rage. They also need to fit a pupil and maximum of 2 adults either side if they have to be restrained.