What Makes a Good SEN Teacher?

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • The qualities of an effective SEN Teacher 
  • The qualities of an ineffective SEN Teacher 
  • What motivates SEN students

What makes a good SEN Teacher

A SEN Teacher is a professional who works with students who have special educational needs or disabilities. These teachers are specifically trained to provide support and tailored instruction to meet the unique learning needs of students with disabilities or learning difficulties.

A good SEN Teacher possesses a range of qualities and skills that enable them to effectively support and educate students with special needs. They demonstrate patience and empathy, understanding the unique challenges these students face and providing the necessary support. 

SEN Teachers are flexible, adapting their teaching methods, approaches, and materials to suit individual students' needs and adjusting as requirements change over time. They are committed to providing the best possible education and support to students with special needs, recognising their unique strengths and challenges and helping them achieve their full potential.

To become a SEN Teacher, individuals typically acquire Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which is typically achieved by completing a Bachelor's degree in Education (B.Ed.) or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) program. 

While it is not obligatory, possessing specialised training or prior experience in supporting children with special educational needs can be advantageous. This can entail participating in specialised courses or workshops that concentrate on particular disabilities or learning challenges like autism, dyslexia, or speech and language disorders.

What are 3 qualities of an effective SEN Teacher?

Three effective qualities of a SEN Teacher include patience, adaptability and empathy. These enable an effective SEN teacher to provide personalised and inclusive education, address individual needs, and foster the growth and development of their students. 


An effective SEN Teacher demonstrates patience in working with students with special educational needs. They understand that these students may require more time to grasp concepts, complete tasks, or express themselves. They remain calm and composed, providing support and guidance at a pace suitable for each student's individual needs.


Adaptability is crucial for an effective SEN Teacher. They are skilled at tailoring their teaching methods and strategies to accommodate the diverse learning styles and needs of their students. They are open to trying new approaches, modifying lesson plans, and utilising various resources to ensure that each student receives the appropriate support and instruction.


Empathy is a key quality that allows an effective SEN Teacher to connect with their students on a deeper level. They understand the challenges and frustrations that students with special needs may face and are sensitive to their emotions and experiences. By demonstrating empathy, they create a safe and supportive environment where students feel understood, valued, and motivated to learn.

What are three qualities of an ineffective SEN Teacher?

Three ineffective qualities of a SEN Teacher include a lack of patience, inflexibility and lack of empathy. It's important to note that these qualities describe ineffective SEN Teachers, but it doesn't mean that all teachers who may exhibit these qualities are inherently ineffective.

Lack of patience

An ineffective SEN Teacher may lack the necessary patience to work with students with special educational needs. They may become easily frustrated or overwhelmed when students require additional time or support to grasp concepts or complete tasks. This impatience can create a negative learning environment and hinder the students' progress.


An ineffective SEN Teacher may struggle with adapting their teaching methods and approaches to accommodate the diverse needs of their students. They may be resistant to trying new strategies or modifying their lesson plans, which can hinder the students' ability to learn effectively. This lack of flexibility can limit the teacher's ability to meet the individual needs of each student.

Lack of empathy

An ineffective SEN Teacher may lack empathy towards their students' challenges and experiences. They may fail to understand the emotional and social difficulties that students with special needs face, which can result in a lack of support and understanding. This lack of empathy can create a disconnect between the teacher and the students, leading to a less effective learning environment.

What motivates SEN students in the classroom?

SEN students in the classroom can be motivated by personalised learning experiences that cater to their unique needs and preferences. Clear goals and expectations provide them with a sense of purpose, while regular positive reinforcement and recognition boost their motivation. 

  • Motivation can also be enhanced by:
  • Varied and interactive learning activities
  • A supportive and inclusive classroom environment
  • Individualised support and differentiation
  • Collaborative learning opportunities
  • Meaningful and relevant content
  • Positive teacher-student relationships
  • Opportunities for autonomy and self-advocacy
  • By tailoring instruction, fostering a positive environment, and providing opportunities for engagement and success, SEN students are more likely to be motivated, actively participate, and achieve their full potential.

Common factors that can generally help motivate SEN students:

  • Individualised support to accommodate SEN students' learning styles, recognise their strengths and address the challenges to create an environment where they feel supported and motivated to learn.
  • Setting clear goals and expectations helps SEN students understand what is expected of them and provides a sense of purpose. Clearly outlining learning objectives and breaking them down into manageable steps helps them stay focused and motivated to achieve their targets.
  • Offering regular positive reinforcement and praise for effort, progress, and achievements is highly motivating. Celebrating successes, no matter how small, helps build self-confidence, encourages continued effort, and creates a positive learning environment.
  • Providing engaging and interactive learning activities captures the attention and interest of SEN students. Hands-on activities, visual aids, technology-based tools, and multi-sensory approaches can make learning more enjoyable and meaningful for them, increasing their motivation to participate.

Latest SEN teacher jobs at Spencer Clarke Group

If you’re searching for your next SEN teacher job, why not take a look at all the vacancies currently available at schools across the UK? 

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Why not upload your CV or contact our SEN teacher specialist, Jamie Heath, to discover more about upcoming opportunities. 

Meet Jamie Heath

© Spencer Clarke Group 2023
Site by Venn