What Is a SENCO?


You Will Learn.

  • What is a SENCO? 
  • What are the responsibilities of a SENCO?
  • What qualifications does a SENCO need?
  • What is the average salary of a SENCO?
  • Who employs a SENCO?
  • How to become a SENCO
  • What skills does a SENCO need?  
  • Where the latest SENCO jobs are and how to apply for them.
A young girl smiling in a library

What Is a SENCO?

A SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) is a qualified teacher who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of a school's SEN policy. 

A SENCO will identify the specific requirements which an individual child or young person with SEN will need in order to create a safe and supportive environment within the education system. The role of a SENCO is an extremely critical one as they are responsible for ensuring children with SEN receive the extra support they need to thrive. 

SEN pupils may have learning difficulties or disorders (such as dyslexia), a physical disability, hearing, visual or multisensory impairments or emotional and behavioural problems.   

Every mainstream school in the UK must have a SENCO to ensure that all children with SEN are well supported and have the opportunity to reach their full educational potential.

In smaller schools, a Headteacher or Deputy Headteacher may take on the role as SENCO. 

In larger schools, there may be a dedicated SEN team which includes SENCOs and Assistant SENCOs. In these instances, the SENCO should have the support of the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to develop effective ways of overcoming barriers to a child's learning. 

A SENCO can also be known as an Additional Learning Needs Coordinator (ALNCo). 

What Are the Responsibilities of a SENCO?

A SENCO keeps parents informed through progress reports and works closely with internal professionals such as Teachers and Teaching Assistants, as well as external experts such as Educational Psychologists and Speech & Language Therapists

SENCO's provide guidance to Teachers on supporting SEN students, assist with transitions, and help with classroom management. Additionally, they oversee the budget for SEN resources, keep records up-to-date, and stay informed about national and local SEN policies.

While working as a SENCO, you will be required to: 

  • Identifying pupils who may need additional support. 
  • Identify the individual needs of SEN pupils through assessments. 
  • Ensure the needs of pupils with SEN are met 
  • Make adjustments to a child with SEN when necessary. 
  • Assist the Headteacher to develop and oversee the implementation of the school's SEN strategy and policy. 
  • Advise staff and colleagues on the SEN strategy and provision within your school. 
  • Monitor progress of pupils with SEN. 
  • Build effective relationships with various parties including the child or young person with SEN, their family, colleagues, the school leadership team and relevant external agencies. 
  • Ensure parents are regularly updated through written reports on the progress of the SEN pupil. 
  • Work well in conjunction with internal professionals including the Head Teacher, their Deputy, teachers, Teaching Assistants, Heads of Department and School Governors. 
  • Work well in conjunction with external professionals including Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Health and Social Care Providers. 
  • Be a key point of contact for the local authority and any relevant external agencies.  
  • Give guidance to teachers on how to best support SEN pupils. 
  • Ensuring teachers have the resources in order to effectively support SEN pupils. 
  • Assist teachers in developing schemes of work and learning programmes for SEN pupils. 
  • Liaise with parents and potential future providers of education. Parents should be made aware of the potential options available to the child or young person and a smooth transition should be planned with minimal disruption. 
  • Working with the Headteacher and School Governors to ensure all relevant legislation is met. 
  • Assist teachers to create and implement effective teaching and behaviour management approaches within the classroom.
  • Oversee and advise on the school budget and resources for SEN provision. 
  • Update databases and systems with clear and current information in a timely manner. 
  • Maintain up to date knowledge relating to national and local policies related to SEN. 

Frequently Asked Questions

To work as a SENCO, you must be a qualified teacher with QTS (qualified teacher status) and have a minimum of three years teaching experience within a classroom. At least one of those years must be spent in a senior role such as the head of a subject or department. 

It can also be advantageous to have a degree in a relevant subject if you’re hoping to work in a school which specialises in a particular subject.

The average salary of a SENCO ranges from £25,000 to £55,000 per annum.

Due to the higher cost of living, the average salary for a full-time SENCO in London is between £42,000 to £62,000 per annum.

However, this can vary depending on factors such as the size and type of school, the SENCO's experience, and other benefits or allowances that the school may offer.

The majority of SENCO jobs are found in the public sector within mainstream schools. This includes early years, primary, secondary and further education. 

SENCOs can also be found within academies, private schools and alternative education provisions such as Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).

How to Become a SENCO.

To become a SENCO in the UK, you will need to follow a specific set of steps and meet certain qualifications and requirements. These include:

  1. You typically need to have a teaching qualification and experience as a qualified teacher in the UK. This means obtaining a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
  2. To become a SENCO, you usually need to have experience as a classroom teacher. The exact amount of teaching experience required can vary depending on the school and local authority, but it is often recommended to have at least a few years of teaching experience.
  3. After gaining teaching experience, you will need to undergo SENCO-specific training. The most common way to do this is by completing the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination (NASENCO). This is a postgraduate-level qualification designed specifically for SENCOs.
  4. Once you have completed the NASENCO qualification, you can start applying for SENCO positions in schools. SENCO positions may be advertised by schools or educational authorities, so you should regularly check job listings and websites for openings.
  5. During the application and interview process, you will need to demonstrate your knowledge of special educational needs and your ability to effectively coordinate support for students with SEN. Be prepared to discuss your experiences and how you would approach the role of a SENCO.
  6. After being appointed as a SENCO, you will likely go through a probationary period during which your performance will be assessed. This is a standard practice in many schools to ensure that you are effectively carrying out your duties.
  7. SENCOs are expected to engage in ongoing professional development to stay up-to-date with changes in special educational needs policies and practices. This may involve attending training sessions, conferences, and workshops related to SEN.

What Skills Does a SENCO Need?

To excel as a SENCO, you'll need more than just organisational skills. Deep empathy and strong communication are key for connecting with students, parents, and team members. Leadership is also important, especially when navigating the often complicated requirements of special education. Patience and emotional intelligence are essential for tackling challenges and multitasking effectively. 

A willingness to collaborate and a dedication to improving education are must-haves for anyone in this role. Sound decision-making and conflict resolution skills round out the profile of a successful SENCO, and these skills are best honed through ongoing professional development

Key skills of a SENCO include:

  • Empathy and understanding for a child or young people with SEN. 
  • Great communication skills with the ability to provide clear, concise and effective written and verbal communication.
  • Great organisational skills as SENCOs will manage daily responsibilities with long term plans and schedules. 
  • The ability to influence school strategy and policy. 
  • Problem solving skills. 
  • Great leadership skills to inspire and motivate fellow colleagues to be fully committed to supporting pupils with SEN. 
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations.
  • The ability to successfully manage multiple cases and competing demands at once. A good SENCO will be able to balance and prioritise their workload efficiently. 
  • Great emotional intelligence to recognise and respond sensitively to the needs of the child or young person with SEN - and their parents or guardian. 
  • A good understanding of the importance of working in partnership with a number of different parties to secure the best outcome. 
  • A strong commitment to raising educational attainment for children or young people with SEN. 
  • Commitment to providing a strong level of support.
  • Commitment to improving services when needed.
  • The ability to ensure the right decisions are made to ensure the needs of a child or a young person with SEN are met.  
  • Great negotiation and conflict resolution skills. 
  • Commitment to continued professional development. 


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