Background: Students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are more likely to exhibit behaviour difficulties than their typically developing peers. Aim: Little is known about specific factors that influence variability among individuals in this group. Sample: The study sample comprised 4228 students with SEND, aged 5 to 15, drawn from 305 primary and secondary schools across England. Method: Explanatory variables were measured at the individual and school levels at baseline, along with a teacher reported measure of behaviour difficulties (assessed at baseline and at 18-month follow-up). Results: Hierarchical linear modelling of data revealed that differences between schools accounted for between 13% (secondary) and 15.4% (primary) of the total variance in the development of students’ behaviour difficulties, with the remainder attributable to individual differences. Statistically significant risk markers for these problems across both phases of education were: being male, eligibility for free school meals, being identified as a bully, and lower academic achievement. Additional risk markers specific to each phase of education at the individual and school levels are also acknowledged. Conclusion: Behaviour difficulties are affected by risks across multiple ecological levels. Addressing any one of these potential influences is therefore likely to contribute to the reduction of the problems displayed.
- Behaviour difficulties
- special educational needs and disabilities
- risk factors