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What is a SENCO?

AllCareers in EducationSpecial Education NeedsTeaching in the UK

Definition of a SENCO

A Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO for short) is a teacher who is responsible for special educational needs in school. Every school in the UK is obliged to employ a SENCO as they ensure all students with learning disabilities are well equipped to obtain the right help and support they need at school.

Which students are considered SEN?

Students who are considered to learn at a slower rate compared to pupils of the same age. If your student is SEN, they may need more support at school with a range of tasks, such as

  • schoolwork
  • reading, writing, numeracy or taking in information
  • befriending peers or conversing with adults
  • getting organised
  • a kind of sensory or physical need which may affect them in school e.g. not liking certain sounds
  • expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying to them
  • behaving appropriately in school

What does a SENCO do?

A SENCO will ensure that students who feel left behind academically, have the necessary support to be able to continue learning at a similar pace to their peers. This is mainly the case for many SEN students.

A SENCO will deal with children to

  • work with them to help them with their learning
  • help other teachers and staff working with them at school
  • ensure that their parents or carers know about their educational disadvantage and keep them up to date with their progress and needs
  • make sure that information about their needs is collected and kept up-to-date

In a school where the student count is not that high, the head teacher or deputy head teacher may take on the role of SENCO. In larger schools there may be a special, designated SEN team (with more than one SENCO) which may include teaching assistants. Many children and young people on the autism spectrum are SEN and so SENCOs should know about autism and other elements of the autism spectrum as part of their job. SENCOs will also keep the parents, teachers and other related professionals close to the student such as educational psychologists up to date about their progress.

What conditions could an SEN student have?

  • emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD)
  • autism, including asperger’s syndrome
  • attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADHD/ADD)
  • specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • communication difficulties
  • medical needs such as epilepsy and cerebral palsy
  • mobility difficulties

Want to learn about other types of teaching support staff? Find out what a Teaching Assistant is here and a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) is here

Interested in becoming a SENCO or working in SEN? You can browse our SENCO jobs and other SEN roles here.

Find out more information about SENCOs on the government’s website here.

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