Insights into the World of a SEN Team Manager

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • What it’s like to be a SEN Team Manager.
  • How SEN Team Managers are tackling the backload of EHCPs.
  • How to find and apply for the best SEN Team Manager jobs.

SEN Team Managers oversee and coordinate Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision within a local authority or educational institution, including the implementation and development of Individual Education Plans (IEPs). 

As the number of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) continue to rise, and demand falls behind schedule, the role of a SEN Team Manager can be stressful and seem limitless at times.

We recently caught up with a SEN Team Manager to discuss what change they would like to see in the future and what advice they would give for anyone thinking of becoming a SEN Team Manager

Having previously worked as a SEN Case Officer and a mentor for children and young people with SEND, and with over 12 years experience working in the education and SEND sector, this individual was fully prepared for his role as a SEN Team Manager.

Less than 12 months into the role, this SEN Team Manager is managing over 1,000 outdated EHCPs backlogged since 2021, as well as plans currently in the phase transfer process. The backlog project is a big task but he is determined to tackle the rising number of EHC plans.

What does your current role consist of?

I am currently working as an interim SEN Team Manager. I manage the backlog team, made up of 5 plan writers, working on clearing the backlog and specifically updating EHCPS that have not been updated since 2021.

Day to day, I check in on the team to look at their progress, assure the quality of each of the plans that are going out and liaise with the Head of Service.

I send weekly updates, figures and data and I oversee the centralised tracker that captures all of the information. I work closely with the social care team to procure information such as social care advice that needs to be added to the EHCPs. 

I also meet parents who have queries relating to the EHCPs, and touch base with SENCOs and SEN Case Officers.

How do you keep up-to-date with changes in the industry?

It’s important to share information in SEND - especially as there have been so many different changes over the years! No matter the changes in the industry, the child still needs to be at the centre of everything that happens. 

COVID has had a massive impact on young people. Many of them have stopped going into schools, meaning attendance has dropped significantly. This has taught me to link in with other services to be able to share ideas and find solutions to support young people in these positions. 

What’s the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned in your career?

I have learnt that one of the things that needs to be looked at is the role of SEN Case Officers. In different local authorities, they are instructed to do different things and work in different ways.

I feel it is impossible for a single SEN Case Officer to manage a complex caseload and be expected to attend annual reviews, update EHCPs after annual reviews are held in timescale, attend Children In Need and Child Protection meetings, oversee new assessments and reassessments as well.

I started as a Case Officer some years ago and over time, I felt that the role needed to be stripped down - there should be separate officers for separate parts of the SEN/EHCP process.

What challenges or obstacles have you faced in your SEND career?

My biggest challenge to date was working in SEND as a manager during COVID. At the peak of the pandemic, no services were functioning at their full strength and social care, education and health in particular were in a state of crisis. Schools were closed which caused massive problems for the families of the young people with EHCPs.

Even when there was a direction for young people with EHCPs to go into schools, it was challenging because not all Teachers were comfortable with working with young people at the time. Teachers didn’t want to get COVID and bring it home to their partners, parents etc.

However, when a child has an EHCP, there is a duty to ensure they are engaged with education and meeting their outcomes. This was a very challenging period as all the services were stretched. 

Parents of young people with challenging behaviour were struggling massively. We saw an increase of parents requesting residential placements as they couldn’t cope with their children at home. 

What is your favourite aspect of your role as a SEND Team Manager?

My favourite part of my current role is seeing the massive turnaround we have made with updating the EHCPs in a short time span. 

Each week and month, you see the decrease of unactioned plans as well as an increase of finalised plans. It feels good to send out updated plans to parents who haven’t seen an updated plan in 5 or even 6 years!

How have things changed or progressed in the SEND sector since the start of your career?

Overall, I haven’t seen much progress in the SEND sector. I fear deep down it will implode eventually. There has been a sharp increase of young people with SEND and poor mental health. 

Mainstream schools do not have the expertise or the capacity to manage them and there are hardly any special schools to accommodate for the high demand.

What changes would you like to see to better support the needs of children and young people with SEND?

  • More training on how to manage challenging behaviour.
  • More early identification of needs, specifically mental health needs.
  • More special schools around the country. New EHCPs are being agreed everyday and it is an impossible task for mainstream schools to support this.
  • Schools and parents need to have a better understanding of the purpose of an EHCP. It is not to enter a special school or give you access to more money.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career as a SEND Team Manager within a local authority?

You need to be flexible and be willing to link with managers of other teams in different services. Also, you must build confidence in the team you manage and make sure you are always there for them, and then they will be there for you. Be very clear on what the focus and priority is as a team.

Learn to manage each person differently, as every individual has their own strengths and weaknesses that need to be identified quickly so you know how to work best with them. Kindness goes a long way as well. The field is already under high pressure and stressful as it is, and being kind is probably the most underrated quality. I have seen a few examples of people being not so kind and they always lose the team.

What’s next for you?

I am happy within SEND as I have a lot of experience, knowledge and passion. I’m currently managing a team of Plan Writers that focus strictly on updating out of date plans. It is very refreshing as the work is very specific. It is a much more effective way of working and the work can be measured better as well.

I have enjoyed the project I have been working on and I would like to do more of these sorts of projects in the future. Eventually I would like to work as a Head of Service in a specifically strong team that have knowledge in SEND and are willing to learn as well.

SEN Team Manager jobs

On the lookout for your next SEN Team Manager job? Stop your search as we can help you secure some of the best positions on the market! We work with hundreds of local authorities across the UK, so why not get in touch with our award winning Divisional Manager Richard Shorrock, to discuss how he can help you find your dream role.

Local authority SEND recruitment services

As an award-winning SEND recruitment agency, we support local authorities all over the UK with their recruitment needs. If you’re struggling to fill a vacancy, why not give us a call on 01772 954200 to discover how we can help you?

Share your experience

Every individual brings a unique set of experiences, thoughts, and insights to the table. We believe in giving a voice to a community of professionals to inspire positive change and champion reform in the SEND sector.  

If you work in the SEND sector and would like to share your own personal and professional experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Perhaps you have a different perspective, could offer a fresh angle, or want to challenge assumptions. 

Simply reach out to our Head of Content, Nicole Sherwood, to discuss a collaboration which makes your voice count. 

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