The Power of Communication: An Interview With a SEND Case Officer

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • About the career history, skills and achievements of a SEND Case Officer.
  • Improvements to better support and prioritise the needs of children and young people with SEND.
  • How to find and apply for the best local authority SEND Case Officer jobs.

As a SEND Case Officer, it is important to have experience in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) industry and be aware of the part that different professionals can play in the making of Education Health Care (EHC) plans.

As the first point of contact for any queries regarding the making of EHC plans, SEND Case Officers work collaboratively with other SEND professionals to ensure the right support is provided. 

We recently interviewed SEND Case Officer, Charley Maynard, to discover more about this rewarding and fulfilling role.

From working as an Assistant Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and then as a EHCP Coordinator, there is no doubt that Charley has a lot of experience that make her an expert in the field of SEND local authority.

Throughout this interview, you’ll discover how Charley has used her experience to thrive in her career and what she believes can be done to better support the learning and development of children and young people with SEND.

Tell us about your career journey so far

I began my journey in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) after working in recruitment for mental health staff in both children and adult hospitals. I made the move over to SEND, within a school environment, as I wanted to be on the ground making a difference.

I joined a special needs school and began teacher training, and soon realised I wanted to be a part of management and someone who directly impacts how SEN provisions were delegated throughout the school.

I then worked as an Assistant SENCO, and began running annual reviews and directly documenting how young people’s needs and provision in their Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) had changed. I became heavily involved in organising multi network professional meetings and liaising with local authorities.

I made the move from Assistant SENCO to EHCP Coordinator when I realised it was local authorities who identified first hand what children and young people require and I knew I wanted to be a part of that assessment.

How has your experience prepared you for a career in SEND?

My experience as an Assistant SENCO and working with SEN children had a huge impact on how successful I was in my first role as EHCP Coordinator and gave me the skills required to make relationships with families and schools alike.

My first role was in a rated ‘Good’ local authority, and I fancied a change, so moved over to a local authority in ‘Written Statement of Action’ and this is where the exciting journey started. I was thrown in the deep end and had to learn fast as I was given severely outdated caseloads.

This meant that a high quantity of work had to be implemented in a short and pressurised time frame, to an exceptionally high standard of quality.

My journey so far has been fast paced and exciting, and every day is different. I have now worked across 3 local authorities, and I am excited for the journey ahead.

What does your current role as a SEN Case Officer consist of?

I am responsible for carrying out duties of the Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) process. I do this by collating advice and collaboratively producing an EHC plan. I also carry out the annual review process.

What skills make for a great SEN Case Officer?

  • The ability to work under pressure and in short time constraints.
  • Time management, organisation and diarising is essential for this role.
  • The ability to make tough decisions which may not be parental preference, but legal.
  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to multitask.
  • SEN Case Officers also need to be resilient and empathetic.

What does a typical day look like for you?

There is no typical day for a SEN Case Officer. You might have tasks allocated throughout the day and then have to rearrange these at a moment's notice. My days usually consist of diarising tasks and corresponding due dates, liaising with schools, other professionals and parents and chairing meetings. Of course, these all come along with the corresponding paperwork!

What is your favourite aspect of your role as a SEN Case Officer? 

My favourite aspect of my role is hearing about progress that young people have made. I am heavily involved with the children and families that I work with, so getting a phone call or email to say their child has done or achieved something great, or that the school they have been placed at is fantastic really makes my job worthwhile. 

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The hardest part is delivering bad news to parents, such as that they didn’t get the school placement that they wanted, or that the school they wanted cannot meet their child’s needs. This is always a crushing phone call to make, however before delivering difficult news, I always have an action plan ready to go so that the parent knows that I am on their side.

Reform in the SEND sector continues to be a huge topic of discussion. How have things changed or progressed in the SEND sector since the start of your career?

Since joining local authorities, I have seen an increase in quality assessment, which is fantastic. You can always tell an older EHC plan from a newer one, as the quality isn’t as good.

EHC plans should be tailored to the young person, with smart outcomes and quantified and specified provision. When you introduce quality assurance, schools and parents can better manage expectations and it is easier to measure progress against outcomes, which directly benefits the young person. 

There has also been a huge increase in the number of requests to assess, and therefore more EHCPs. I think this is down to early intervention, parents, nurseries and being more knowledgeable about SEN.

There has also been an increased use of alternative provision by schools, mainly to avoid permanent exclusions or whilst in the search for alternative placement. My view on this is that while it is a useful tool to keep children within placement, I wonder if more can be done to provide support for schools?

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

That people may not understand or be aware of the support that is available to them. The ability to empower them and show them the different avenues of support and provision is vital for young people and parents. Everyone works at a different pace and views the world differently, so it is important to remember that.

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

For me, there are two main changes that need to occur to better support the needs of young people with SEND.

The first change that I think could improve support for children and young people would be to enhance knowledge of SEND. The more people that understand SEND, have the ability to talk about it and share their experiences and expertise across various platforms the better. This would include giving parents more information on what is available to them, and what they can do to help their children.

The second change I would suggest would be more funding and access. Due to the increase of SEND (from early diagnostics and support now available), there needs to be more allocation to specialist services and resources so people can easily access them.

In addition, early years settings and schools need to have access to resources so that they can better the opportunities available to those with SEND and give parents the right information. From my experience, schools do not always have enough funding to appropriately help those that need extra support, and this directly impacts the young people and families.

What advice would you give to someone new to the industry or considering a career as a SEN Case Officer?

I think the power of communication is vital in this role, even if you are emailing to say you have no update or sending a holding email. As long as people understand that they are being listened to, and that you are in your role because you care.

What’s next for you? Any future aspirations or upcoming projects?

I have just had my contract extended until the end of the year for the current local authority I work for. My aim is to continue to develop my skills and knowledge and move into a management position. I wouldn’t mind moving over to the legal side of things in tribunals as these are steadily on the increase.

What do you hope to contribute to the special education field? What are your future plans?

Every day I aim to have an impact and make some change to young people and families’ lives. This is why I am in this role. I hope to use my expertise and knowledge across the SEND sector to better inform others; schools, parents and colleagues and let them know that I care and that I am working in the best interests of the young person.

In the future, I aim to convert my degree into a MSc psychology and eventually retrain as an Educational Psychologist (this is a very lengthy process). I work very closely with the educational psychology service and would like to help the national shortage and dire need in this sector in the future.

SEND Case Officer jobs

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

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Recruit SEND Case Officers

As specialist local authority SEND recruiters, we support local authorities nationwide with their temporary, interim and permanent staffing needs. 

If you’re struggling to recruit, we have exclusive access to some of the most experienced SEND Case Officers in the UK.

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

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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