Management Information Sheet

Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) relaunch

MI Sheet TypeInformation
MI Number:108/20
Publication Date:16/10/2020 12:00:00
LA Contact:Norfolk Virtual School for Looked After and Previously Looked After Children (01603 303323)
Audience:Headteacher/Designated Teacher

Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) relaunch

The SDQ is an internationally validated questionnaire which focuses on the emotional wellbeing of looked after children.

Since 2009 the DfE have compulsorily requested SDQ data for all looked after children in England aged between 4/5 and 16/17 on an annual basis Norfolk is leading the way in a new model of supporting the emotional wellbeing of Looked After Children as evidence shows that they are around five times more likely to have emotional health needs than children who are not in care. The new Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire process has been jointly designed by Education, Health, Child & Adolescent Mental Health and Social Care colleagues, based on research undertaken by the University of East Anglia in conjunction with multi-agency practice experience.

The new SDQ process is strengths orientated and aims to ensure children will receive the right support, from the right person at the right time to improve and sustain their emotional wellbeing.

The information from the SDQ can help identify the right support for the child:

  • To inform statutory health, educational and social care plans
  • To provide a context for all professionals to explore a child's wellbeing
  • To inform referral to appropriate CAMHS services
  • To evaluate progress against emotional wellbeing outcomes
  • To inform commissioners of an important area of need
  • What does this mean for schools, settings and the Virtual School?

  • The initial SDQ questionnaire is completed within 3 months of young person coming into care and then again prior to Review Health Assessment due date. The results are always shared with LAC Nurse, Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) and Social worker.
  • Based on the score, the Social worker may liaise with the Virtual School and ask that the Designated Teacher (DT) or another appropriate person in school ensures the teacher version of the SDQ is completed.
  • Where the DT completes an SDQ, the overall score should be included in the relevant section of the PEP record
  • When an SDQ is completed by the school, the outcome should be shared with the Social Worker who will make sure it is saved with the SDQ paperwork and the results triangulated
  • There should be a conversation about the SDQ scores and what they mean during the PEP meeting and where appropriate, the information should help inform targets.
  • Discussion should focus on educational attainment and the relationship between this and emotional health needs
  • Together the Designated Teacher, Social Worker and Foster Carer will identify opportunities in each setting to support the young person. This might include a referral to EPSS for example
  • The views of the young person will be central to any decision making and their emotional well-being will always be considered as part of their PEP and their Looked After Child plan.

If you have any questions or would like any further information, please contact Norfolk Virtual School E: