Interview with an Experienced SENCO

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • About the expertise and experience of a professional SENCO.
  • Gain insight into how the education and SEND industry works.
  • How to find and apply for the best SENCO jobs.

Do you want to learn from an expert and gain insightful tips, guidance, and knowledge from an experienced Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)? In this exclusive interview, we caught up with a SENCO while she is on maternity leave to discover how her career experience has enhanced her understanding of the education and SEND sector.

This SENCO has juggled many roles, from Teacher, to Deputy Headteacher, and now motherhood. With over 7 years experience as a SENCO, she has continuously developed her knowledge and adapted to the changing roles and responsibilities of her career in education.

With plans to return to a position as the Head of SEND for a Local Authority or Deputy posts, this SENCO is as determined as ever to be a leading professional in the industry. 

Throughout this insightful interview, you will gain invaluable insights and guidance from a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator and what she thinks can be done to improve the sector.

Tell us about your career journey so far

I have been working as a SENCO since 2017, over which time the role has changed massively. Since qualifying, I have worked as a SENCO/Class Teacher, a Deputy Headteacher and SENCO, an Inclusion Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) and a Class Teacher with Upper Pay Scale SEN targets, so I received additional funding from Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) for extra responsibilities like being a SENCO.

Each role has been challenging, yet rewarding. As a SENCO, you need to continually develop and learn while supporting a multitude of complex children and ensure you make decisions in their best interests, while supporting staff and adhering to the School Development Plan (SDP). 

What does your role consist of?

Currently, I have stepped away from my Deputy and SENCO role as I have started my own family and felt that I did not have the time to commit myself fully to the role of supporting others while my babies are so young.

This was a very difficult decision for me because being a SENCO is not a vocation, it is a passion, and you do not enter it unless you care deeply about all children and you are willing to dedicate your life to the challenge of the role.

The role requires you to be adaptable, patient, and knowledgeable. It feels like you are constantly fighting a battle (e.g. fighting for more funding to help support children in your care or fighting to ascertain the right provision for children to support their needs). 

While working as a SENCO, some of my daily responsibilities included:

  • Meeting with staff to pass on information or messages before the children arrive at school.
  • Meeting and greeting vulnerable pupils and settling them into school. We also collect some from their homes and take them into schools.
  • Attend meetings, support pupils, make calls, answer emails, complete and file/distribute paperwork.
  • Cover any lessons throughout the day.
  • Chair meetings and provide Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training after school.

What is your favourite aspect of your role as a SENCO?

I absolutely love seeing children happy, achieving, and thriving in a school environment. No matter what their starting point or their individual targets, there is no better feeling than seeing a pupil succeed, especially if they have been struggling with one area in particular.

I hope that I have made a positive impact on even just one child and hope that I have been able to create lessons and experiences that have made them smile. Hopefully they will remember those lessons in years to come. 

How do you keep up-to-date with changes?

I try to keep up with any changes in legislation or policy by reading updates and reports published by recognised sources. I am part of a couple of Senior Leaders Team (SLT) groups on Facebook that offer advice and signpost participants to any new information we may have missed. This is a really good way to network, keep up to date and support others when needed.

I am also part of a couple of professional bodies that send weekly emails containing updates, information, and new guidance.

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

Unfortunately, in some roles I have had to learn to be less trusting and be more resilient as I do like to please others and want everyone to be happy. However, this is not always possible or appropriate and in some instances directness, formality and cordiality are required.

It did take me a long time to really develop those skills as they did not come naturally, but they were necessary when developing as a leader e.g. when a difficult conversation needed to be conducted because of staff not performing to the right standard. 

I have learnt that not everyone has your best interests in mind, so always cover yourself with an electronic trail or follow up any requests/directions in writing to ensure there are no discrepancies on what has been asked and agreed.

When teaching, always do things straight away e.g. reports or marking. Do not put it off as something always crops up and you do not want a huge backlog weighing over you as it is a job where you are never finished. 

What challenges or obstacles have you faced in your career?

The main challenges for all educators involve funding or a lack of funding. The way I want to educate all children and the experiences I believe they should have are not always feasible, despite paying for lots of things myself.

All children deserve equal opportunities and I feel additional funding equitable to needs is necessary to enable all schools to help pupils thrive.

In terms of SEN, the main barriers in schools can often be the staff and their lack of training, understanding, willingness to adapt or inability to provide all children with the support that they need due to the ever growing and increasing needs we now see in all classrooms.

What changes would you like to see in schools to better support the educational needs of children?

I think there should be a review of the national curriculum – it needs to better reflect individuals and their experiences and needs to be interest driven so that the children are invested in their learning.

We want children to be educated and have a breadth of understanding, supported by a wide vocabulary, but this should not be at the detriment of those lacking in life experiences and opportunities which - currently - is exactly the case. 

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in education whether as a SENCO, Teacher or a Deputy Headteacher?

Be sure you are in it for the right reasons. It is a vocation and not just a job. You need an innate desire to ensure that all children succeed, while making hard decisions for all staff, pupils, and stakeholders.

Continue to study, work hard and learn from others – you do not know everything. I would advise anyone wanting to work in education to ensure that they experience multiple schools, to ensure that they experience a diverse set of individuals including Teachers and pupils. This will give you a broad understanding of needs, techniques, delivery methods, resources, and strategies.

SENCO jobs

If you’re looking for your dream SENCO job, why not get in touch with our award winning Divisional Manager, Richard Shorrock who is one of the leading SEND recruitment specialists in the UK. 

Richard can connect you to some of the best temporary, interim or permanent SENCO jobs on the market. Alternatively, upload your CV and be notified when relevant job opportunities become available.

If you found this interview useful, why not check out these blogs?

Local authority SEND recruitment services

As a leading SEND recruitment agency in the UK, 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 see how we can support 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. 

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

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