Empowering SEND Students and Their Families: 17 Free Tips for Immediate Positive Results

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • 17 free tips for SEND educators to have immediate positive results on SEND students and their families.
  • Where the latest SEND Teaching jobs are and how to apply for them.

For children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) being ‘seen’ and feeling empowered can be a challenge. SEND students and their families often struggle to be heard, appreciated and valued and this can make it difficult for students to reach their full potential.

There are several tips SEND Teachers and SEND Teaching Assistants can take onboard and apply to their role to ensure that parents and students work together to improve outcomes and create a more inclusive environment.

In the Children and Families Act 2014, the legislation lays out that local governments need to ‘allow for participation in processes’ and ‘work to achieve the best possible educational outcomes.’ Schools and nurseries are required to use their ‘best endeavours’ to meet the needs of children they educate, including those with SEND.

With advice from leading SEND professionals in the UK, this guide is designed to advise SEND educators on how to improve their approach to empower SEND students and their families.

17 free tips to empower SEND students and their families for immediate positive results

17 free tips to empower SEND students and their families for immediate positive results:

  • Get to know students and families.
  • Listen.
  • Communicate.
  • Be firm but friendly.
  • Keep families informed.
  • Be more inclusive
  • Build trust and connect.
  • Celebrate and give praise.
  • Adapt to the needs of the child, not the disability.
  • Collaborate with parents.
  • Work with other SEND professionals.
  • Offer encouragement.
  • Be flexible.
  • Plan and prepare.
  • Focus on strengths.
  • Learn as you go.
  • Follow the law.

Get to know students and families

Empowering SEND students and their families means fostering a relationship based on trust, respect and mutual understanding. It is important for SEND educators to get to know their pupils to better their relationship and understanding of how best to support them. 

A SEND Teacher advised SEND educators to “Research the needs of the children and get to know them and their families as much as possible. A strong relationship with families can make difficult conversations much better. It is important that the families can trust you to fight for their child as hard as they would.”

By aiming to understand the way in which SEND students' communicate and express themselves, SEND educators enhance their own understanding and experience, and determine needs, outcomes and aspirations for students.


It is crucial that children and young people with SEND are treated with the same respect as any other child and that SEND educators take the time to listen to students and their families.

Parents are experts in their children and know how to support them in the most effective way. They have a unique perspective and offer a personal point of view that SEND experts cannot understand or predict without making assumptions or categorising students based on age or disability. 

SEND educators can greatly benefit from acknowledging the experience that parents and family members have gained to best support the child and achieve maximum positive results.

With SEND budgets tight, this is one free strategy which SEND educators can utilise to better understand the needs and concerns of their students. 


When it comes to achieving the best and most immediate results, it is important for SEND educators to communicate with parents in order to maintain a routine or understand a situation.

Instead of battling to be heard, give family members the opportunity to ask questions, express concerns and offer advice. Maintaining open lines of communication between educators, parents and students and regularly discussing progress, ensures everyone is working towards a common goal.

Encourage SEND students and their families to be confident in approaching you for help, advice or information. Consistently communicating with families and conveying information ensures everyone is on the same page; it also makes it easier to track progress and development.

Be firm but friendly

A trait that is to be expected of any teaching professional, is the ability to be friendly but firm. Families must be able to approach SEND educators with queries or concerns so it is crucial to maintain a warm, welcoming and friendly attitude.

SEND educators need to make students feel confident, safe and happy whilst delivering immediate, effective and positive results. Consider how you approach students and their families, and be friendly, fair and firm to ensure you are respected, trusted and able to deliver the best possible outcome.

Give clear, concise instructions and break down tasks, requirements or information into manageable steps. This can help students understand and complete assignments more effectively, and also allows parents to better support their students. 

Keep families informed

Teachers are required to constantly adapt to new laws and regulations in the education and SEND sector so they can accurately and efficiently prioritise the needs of all pupils. SEND educators are no different, and the best way to achieve positive results, maintain a good relationship and gain the trust of families is by keeping them updated and informed.

Make information available to parents and inform them of any changes, as they may be able to provide solutions, advice or insights to decide outcomes. Explain key SEND terms, figures and updates to avoid confusion and better equip families.

Whether it’s new laws and regulations, or providing updates about changes in behaviour, SEND educators can benefit from making information available to parents and guardians.

Be more inclusive

Include SEND students and their families in decisions and encourage discussions so that they get involved and contribute in a positive way. Be open to trying new strategies and adapting your approach based on what works for each student. Being more inclusive and understanding can help empower students to reach their full potential.

SEND Teacher Shaun said that to support the needs of pupils with SEND, it is important “to take the time as an educator to learn about the needs of the students in the classroom. Being curious about inclusion and behaviour will give educators the time and space to appropriately support SEND students.”

Creating an environment that focuses on inclusivity and makes changes and modifications will reduce barriers to learning. When families and SEND students have the opportunity to contribute and be included, it can result in a much smoother process and positive outcomes.

Build trust

Strategic leadership and a good working relationship with students and families is crucial to ensure the best possible outcome.

SEND educators that commit to their actions, encourage teamwork and foster an open environment, are able to build relationships with SEND students and families based on trust and honesty.

It is important for SEND staff to be trusted and have high levels of credibility, so parents can confide in them to improve the outcome for SEND students. Mutual trust and respect between SEND educators, students and families also encourages more collaboration and provides even more stimulus for continual school development.

Celebrate and give praise

It’s important to celebrate children’s achievements, successes and individuality to show your interest in their life and to be aware of the efforts they make. Big or small, praise can improve self-esteem and give students the confidence to try new things and work hard. 

It also shows students and their families that you recognise the efforts they make and helps to foster the mindset that they should also be proud of their achievements.

Praise all achievements and efforts, not just results, so SEND students understand mistakes are a necessary part of learning and growing. Positive reinforcement and praise should be a fun and positive experience that brings students joy and motivates them to thrive beyond their diagnosis or potential.

Adapt to the needs of the child not the disability

Educators need to adapt their strategy to accommodate different SEND students and their needs, especially considering the changing emotions and needs of the child or young person with SEND.

According to a SEND Teaching Assistant, “every child is different and requires different care and attention, and shouldn’t be grouped or addressed according to their disability or needs. I also know that every day in the classroom is different and unpredictable, so I’ve learnt to adapt and trust my instincts.”

It is impossible for SEND educators to predict how a student with SEND will react or respond to something on any given day, but by being able to adapt to different situations, they can help resolve the situation. 

Emotions, abilities and needs differ by the day, and SEND educators must be able to adapt and adjust for immediate results and implement personal approaches based on the needs of the individual, and not according to their disability.

Collaborate with parents

SEND educators can have the biggest, positive impact on SEND students and their families by working with parents/guardians and learning from their expertise. Collaborating with parents and treating them as equal collaborators and contributors is the best way to ensure that they feel their opinions are valued and that SEND educators are advocating on their behalf.

Working with parents and taking on board their ideas, requests and questions is crucial to make them feel more appreciated and empowered. Recognise that families want to help their children succeed academically and need targeted information and support to put that desire into action.

Effective collaboration can establish positive results and create a nurturing environment for all involved.

Work with other SEND professionals

To achieve positive results, there must be a strong collaboration between the student, their family and the many SEND professionals within the system. This includes Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) and local authority SEND professionals. 

SEND educators can promote positive outcomes for students with SEND by developing trusting relationships, not only with students and their families but other SEND professionals, so they can work together towards a common goal.

SEND Teachers can access support from their Teaching Assistants, Learning Support Assistants and local authorities by liaising with them and familiarising themselves with strategies to achieve the best results.

Offer encouragement

Empower SEND students and their families by giving them positive encouragement and support so that they feel more included, motivated and empowered.

There are many ways to encourage and subsequently empower students e.g. encouraging students to view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, promoting independent practice and fostering a positive environment.

If possible, urge students to communicate their strengths and challenges to give them more self-confidence and empower them to be independent and resourceful.

Be flexible

With the current shortage of Teachers and the rise in the number of EHC plans, it is important for SEND Teachers and Teaching Assistants to be flexible and adaptable in their approach to students with SEND in order to enhance learning and promote positive outcomes.

Being flexible and adaptable can enhance student engagement, autonomy, and learning outcomes. When educators are flexible, they can tailor their approach and instructions to better support SEND students and their families.

SEND educators must be quick to take action in challenging situations and adapt to any situation or changing circumstances in order to problem solve or respond effectively.

Plan and prepare

In order to achieve immediate positive results and empower SEND students and their families, it is important that SEND educators plan and prepare as much as they possibly can. SEND Teachers need to be punctual, prepared and passionate, with a plan of how best to provide positive outcomes.

A SEND Teaching Assistant said, “the advice I would give to anyone considering a career in SEND is that they should be prepared for challenges, emotional and behavioural from the child or young person with SEND.” 

Being prepared and having a plan of action is vital to ensure that SEND students and their families are able to do something worthwhile and that educators are up to date and ready for any challenge or situation.

Focus on strengths

Don’t dwell on challenges or difficulties, but focus on strengths to keep SEND students and their families thinking optimistically about future outcomes. Thinking positively and focusing on strengths or successes is a great way to empower students with SEND to stay motivated and supported.

Work to a strength-based model rather than focusing on what can’t be done or what will be difficult. Hold workshops or meetings to help parents identify their child’s strengths. Give parents access to the information they need and teach them how to interact with school staff to ensure they are helping to promote their child’s achievements and development.

Learn as you go

As there are limited qualifications for Teachers and Teaching Assistants to become SEND educators, they can learn a lot through working on the job. SEND Teachers and Teaching Assistants have plenty of opportunities to learn more about different needs and disabilities, from the students themselves and their families.

Applying lessons or insights that you have learnt will not only make you a better SEND educator but it can also result in immediate and positive results in the long-term. SEND educators can become advocates and partners in support of the learning and educational growth of children with SEND.

Follow the law

Achieving the best results is a priority, but it’s also important that SEND Teachers and SEND Teaching Assistants abide by the law and follow regulations to ensure that the needs of SEND pupils are met.

Keep up-to-date with the latest research and best practices in SEND education and legislation, and follow the SEND Reform Act (2014) and the Children and Families Act (2014) to be sure that you are providing the best possible support.

SEND Teacher jobs

If you’re searching for your next SEND Teacher job, why not take a look at the latest teaching vacancies, or simply upload your CV to be notified when a relevant position becomes available.

Recruit SEND Teachers

As a specialist SEND recruitment agency, we support mainstream and SEND schools with their temporary, permanent and temp-perm staffing needs. 

We currently work with hundreds of schools and have exclusive access to some of the best SEND Teachers and SEND Teaching Assistants in the North West.

If you’re struggling to fill a teaching vacancy, why not get in touch with one of our team to see how we can help?

Meet Jamie Heath

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Established in 2017, we’re a vibrant and progressive recruitment agency based in the heart of the North West. 

We continually reimagine the recruitment process to challenge convention and defy expectations; from creating a better recruitment experience to remodelling employee engagement, we thrive off doing things differently and turning heads along the way. 

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