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The Role of a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo)

Keep Calm

All mainstream schools must ensure they have a qualified teacher designated as SEN Coordinator (SENCo). Where they have not been a SENCo at that, or any other school for more than 12 months, they must achieve a National Award in Special Educational Needs Coordination within three years of appointment.

  • The SENCo, in collaboration with the Headteacher and governing body, plays a key role in deteremining the strategic development of the SEND policy and provision in the school in order to raise the achievement of children with SEND.
  • The SEND Code of Parctice is clear that SENCos will be most effective in their role if they are part of the school leadership team
  • The SENCO normally takes day-to-day responsibility for the operation of the SEND policy and co-ordination of the provision made for individual children with SEND, working closely with staff, parents and carers, and other agencies
  • The SENCO also provides related professional guidance to colleagues with the aim of securing high quality teaching for children with SEND
  • The SENCO, with the support of the Headteacher and colleagues, seeks to develop effective ways of overcoming barriers to learning and sustaining effective teaching. This will be through the analysis and assessment of children’s needs, by monitoring the quality of teaching and standards of pupils’ achievements, and by setting targets for improvement.
  • The SENCO should collaborate with curriculum coordinators so that the learning for all children is given equal priority, and available resources are used to maximum effect.

SENCo Responsibilities in primary school

In mainstream primary schools the key responsibilities of the SENCO may include:

  • Overseeing the day-to-day operation of the school's SEND policy
  • Coordinating provision for children with SEND
  • Liaising with and advising fellow teachers
  • Managing Teaching Assistants
  • Overseeing the records of all children with SEND
  • Liaising with parents of children with SEND
  • Contributing to the training of staff.
  • Liaising with external agencies including the LA’s support and Educational Psychology services, health and social services, and voluntary bodies.

Time required for SEN coordination

  • Governing bodies and Head Teachers will need to give careful thought to the SENCO’s timetable in light of the SEND Code of Practice, and in the context of the resources available to the school
  • Good practice shows that SENCOs require time for:
    • Planning and coordination away from the classroom
    • Maintaining appropriate records
    • Teaching children with SEND
    • Observing children in class without a teaching commitment
    • Managing, supporting and training Teaching Assistants
    • Liaising with colleagues and with early education settings / primary / secondary schools / FE Colleges.

The SEN Code of Practice also states that:

  • ‘The school should ensure that the SENCO has sufficient time and resources to carry out these functions. This should include providing the SENCO with sufficient administrative support and time away from teaching….’
  • ‘It may be appropriate for a number of primary schools to share a SENCO.… to fulfil the role effectively to the total registered pupil population across all of the schools involved…. ‘

(SEND Code of Practice)

SENCo Model of delivery

  • In terms of responsibility, the SENCO role is at least equivalent to that of curriculum, literacy or numeracy coordinator. The role is time consuming and therefore it is usually inappropriate for the SENCO to have other school-wide responsibilities
  • The costs of the SENCO (or those parts of the post holder’s work devoted to SENCO duties) should be set against the core or base budget of the school
  • Head Teachers should also ensure where possible that the SENCO is able to communicate with other SENCOs through, for example, the local SENCO Network coordinated by a serving SENCO, supported through the High Needs Funding Block on behalf of Islington schools for this purpose.

The Islington SENCo Network

Meets termly after school; coordinated by schools for schools

  • Sharing good practice
  • Keeping informed
  • Sharing information and resources
  • Developing materials and approaches.

Contact: SEN@islington.gov.uk for more information