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What is a SENCO?

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Definition of a SENC0

A Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENC0) is an experienced qualified teacher who is responsible for special educational needs provision 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.

The SENCO has a crucial role in schools – ensuring that ALL children with special educational needs and disabilities receive the support they need. In the past 20 years, the status and importance of the role have developed with successive guidance validating the role.

A SENCO must be a qualified teacher (by law since 2008) and a newly appointed SENCO must achieve a National Award in Special Educational Needs Coordination within 3 years of starting the role. It is seen as preferable for a SENCO to also be a member of the senior leadership team as this gives them more power in any decision making that affects the provision of SEND pupils in school. It would be highly unlikely for a SENCO to have a full teaching timetable due to their high level of responsibility across the school.

Responsibilities of a SENCO:

  • Supporting with the identification of children with special educational needs
  • Co-ordinating the provision for children with SEND across the school
  • Liaising with parents and carers of children with SEND
  • Liaising with other providers, outside agencies, educational psychologists and external agencies
  • Ensuring that the school keeps the records of all pupils with SEND up to date


What Special Educational Needs conditions could an SEN student have?

There are four areas of special educational need that most students individual needs can be categorised under – cognitive & learning, sensory & physical, communication & interaction and behaviour & mental health.

Cognitive & Learning 

Children may learn at a slower pace than their peers. These learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs: Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD) and Severe Learning Difficulties) where children are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) where children are likely to have complex needs alongside sensory impairment of physical disability, 

Specific Learning difficulties (SpLD) affect one or more specific areas of learning. 

Sensory & Physical 

Children may need special provision due to a disability that prevents them from accessing learning. 

Communication & Interaction 

Children may have difficulty communicating with others. This could stem from difficulty in saying what they want to say, in understanding others or in grasping the ‘social rules of communication. They may have difficulty with one or more aspects of speech, language or communication These needs could change over time.

Behaviour & Mental Health 

Behaviour may include being withdrawn or displaying challenging or disruptive behaviour. These behaviours may result from mental health difficulties such as depression or anxiety. 


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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