What is a SENCo?
A Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) is a qualified teacher responsible for the day-to-day delivery of the school’s special educational needs (SEN) policy.
Schools in the United Kingdom are legally obliged to employ a SENCo to ensure all students with SEN receive the help and support they need as they progress through the education system.
What does a SENCo do?
The National Standards for Special Educational Needs Coordinators (1998) suggests four areas of SEN co-ordination:
- Strategic direction/development of SEN provision in school
- Leading and managing staff
- Efficient/effective deployment of staff and resources
On a day-to-day basis, SENCos…
- Co-ordinate provision for pupils with SEN
- Support in the identification of SEN
- Manage the team of SEN teachers/support staff (depending on school size)
- Develop and uphold SEN policy
- Liaise with parents or carers to communicate progress and needs
- Liaise with teaching staff, governors and external agencies (such as CAMHS and social services) to ensure pupils’ needs are met
- Communicate with, and request the involvement of, educational psychologists and other professionals to support and identify needs
- Refer pupils to professionals such as speech and language therapists
- Assist in the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) process
- Work with curriculum teams to ensure the learning objectives of pupils with SEN are met
- Support the professional development of colleagues in relation to SEN
- Manage SEN resources
- Ensure SEN records are accurate and kept up to date
Who does a SENCo support?
Pupils may be considered to have SEN if they learn at a slower rate compared to peers of the same age.
Pupils may have difficulties with:
- Literacy or numeracy
- Organisation skills
- Socialising with peers or conversing with adults
- Expressing themselves or understanding others’ emotions
- Behaving appropriately
- Face sensory or physical barriers to learning
Recognised conditions that pupils with SEN may have include:
- Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
- Specific Learning Difficulties (including; Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, Developmental Coordination Disorder)
- Medical needs (including; Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy)
SENCos should have a good working knowledge of these conditions to best support their pupils.
What qualifications does a SENCo need?
To become a SENCo you must:
- Be a qualified teacher
- Achieve a National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination within three years of appointment (as introduced by the Education [Special Educational Needs Coordinators] Regulations 2009)
The SENCo Handbook highlights several key personal characteristics required to be a successful SENCo, including:
- The ability to deal with tough and sensitive situations
- Effective time management
- Strong communication skills
- Responsible money and resource management
It is also important that that the SENCo holds credibility within the school and can work closely with the Senior Leadership Team. Successful implementation of SEN policy requires whole-school commitment and for colleagues across the organisation to buy in to the objectives and strategies to achieve them.