What is a School SENCO
A SENCo, or Special Educational Needs Coordinator, aids the teaching and learning of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities within their primary or secondary school.
Every mainstream school will have one, as required by law, however SENCos must either be already qualified teachers or headteachers, or be actively working to become a qualified teacher; the requirement adds that you must also show that you have a reasonable likelihood of becoming qualified. Therefore, most SENCos work on their SEN (Special Educational Needs) role on top of their other school responsibilities.
To ensure a SENCo is up to the job, the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (2015) also requires all SENCos to gain the National SENCo Award within three years of taking the post.
Being a modern day SENDCo is all about a taking a creative approach to the support needs in young people, overcoming challenges in addressing mental health concerns and implementing particularly inventive approaches to solutions for students.
How does a SENCo fits in with teachers
Whilst a SENCo might have their own teaching responsibilities, they’re there to support other teachers and the headteacher to provide for pupils with special educational needs. Depending on the needs that are present within the school, this can include addressing a variety of different issues. One important function of a SENCo is to work closely with teachers, the headteacher and a child’s parents to develop an individual learning plan that fulfils the child’s needs.
They also support teachers in developing appropriate teaching strategies for children with additional educational needs and help to establish strategies for managing behaviour in the classroom. Providing additional training for teachers on working with children with special educational needs is a key responsibility that’s also beneficial for the teacher’s own professional development. A SENCo is also a point of contact for teachers to report any concerns they have or seek out support related to teaching pupils with special educational needs.
What does a SENCo do for students
SENCos support students in several ways. Children with special educational needs can easily feel isolated or left behind in school, so ensuring they feel supported is essential. A typical SENCo’s duties include:
Creating inclusive environments
A SENCo helps to create an inclusive environment and ensures that children with special educational needs feel involved and welcome at school. They often act as a trusted member of staff that students with special educational needs can approach when they require support. One significant responsibility is identifying the children who have special educational needs. This includes observations and coordinating tests that assess the child’s academic abilities. Additionally, SENCos provide mental health support for pupils.
Providing personalised learning plans
SENCos use various strategies to support children who have special educational needs and help them to succeed in school. Because pupils have individual needs, the strategies a SENCo uses often differ between the individual children that they support. Alongside developing personalised learning plans in consultation with teachers and parents, SENCos also monitor and assess the progress of pupils on an ongoing basis. This could be through further testing or observing their progress and behaviour in lessons.
Helping children settle in at new schools
SENCos also support children with special educational needs who move to the school from elsewhere, helping them to settle into the new environment and making sure they get the correct educational support. If a student needs external support for their needs, for example, psychological support or support with speech and language, SENCos are also responsible for organising this and working collaboratively with outside organisations.
Consulting with parents
SENcos typically maintain relationships with parents of special needs pupils. They may update the guardian or parent on the child’s needs and performance at school on a regular basis. Parents may also discuss strategies with these professionals to help children succeed in their schoolwork and to sustain a positive outlook both at school and at home.
Other common SENCo responsibilities
In addition to working closely with individual teachers, pupils and parents, SENCos have a range of other responsibilities. Many of these relate to the school’s overall approach to special educational needs provision. In addition to teaching and working with teachers and students, the role has significant administrative responsibilities. These tasks can be time-consuming and sometimes it may be necessary to work outside normal school hours.
Some other responsibilities of a SENCo include:
- Developing the school’s overall special educational needs strategy and ensuring it’s properly implemented
- Developing and implementing interventions that reduce the attainment gap between children with special educational needs and other pupils
- Giving advice and managing the school’s budget for special educational needs
- Presenting annual reports on special educational needs provision to the school’s governors
- Staying up to date with local and national special educational needs policy and sharing this information with other staff
- Keeping records on pupils with special educational needs
- Providing progress reports and updates for parents
SCCD Training provides the Level 3 Award for Special Educational Needs Coordinators. Contact us for further information.