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Role of the SENCo and National Award for SEN Coordinators

 Governing bodies of maintained mainstream schools and the proprietors of mainstream academy schools (including free schools) must ensure that there is a qualified teacher designated as Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) for the school.

The SENCo must be a qualified teacher working at the school. A newly appointed SENC0 must be a qualified teacher and, where they have not previously been the SENCo at that or any other relevant school for a total period of more than twelve months, they must achieve a National Award in Special Educational Needs Co-ordination within three years of appointment.

A National Award must be a postgraduate course accredited by a recognised higher education provider. The National College for Teaching and Leadership has worked with providers to develop a set of learning outcomes.

The SENCo has an important role to play with the headteacher and governing body, in determining the strategic development of SEN policy and provision in the school. They will be most effective in that role if they are part of the school leadership team.

The SENCO has day-to-day responsibility for the operation of SEN policy and co-ordination of specific provision made to support individual pupils with SEN, including those who have EHC plans.

The key responsibilities of the SENCO may include:

• overseeing the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEN policy

• co-ordinating provision for children with SEN

• liaising with the relevant Designated Teacher where a looked after pupil has SEN

• advising on the graduated approach to providing SEN support

• advising on the deployment of the school’s delegated budget and other resources to meet pupils’ needs effectively

• liaising with parents of pupils with SEN

• liaising with early years providers, other schools, educational psychologists, health and social care professionals, and independent or voluntary bodies

• being a key point of contact with external agencies, especially the local authority and its support services

• liaising with potential next providers of education to ensure a pupil and their parents are informed about options and a smooth transition is planned

• working with the headteacher and school governors to ensure that the school meets its responsibilities under the Equality Act (2010) with regard to reasonable adjustments and access arrangements

• ensuring that the school keeps the records of all pupils with SEN up to date

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 to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities in a similar way to other important strategic roles within a school.

It may be appropriate for a number of smaller primary schools to share a SENCo employed to work across the individual schools, where they meet the other requirements set out in this chapter of the Code. Schools can consider this arrangement where it secures sufficient time away from teaching and sufficient administrative support to enable the SENCo to fulfil the role effectively for the total registered pupil population across all of the schools involved. Where such a shared approach is taken the SENCo should not normally have a significant class teaching commitment. Such a shared SENCo role should not be carried out by a headteacher at one of the schools.

Schools should review the effectiveness of such a shared SENCo role regularly and should not persist with it where there is evidence of a negative impact on the quality of SEN provision, or the progress of pupils with SEN.

Further information on the role of schools is detailed in the SEND Code of Practice 2015

The SENCo award is available via a range of providers including Entrust and further details can be found on their website.

Other training providers also offer the award: 

University of Wolverhampton - Serco

University of Birmingham

Manchester Metropolitan University

University of Derby

NASEN register of quality providers

Last updated: 29 Nov 2018
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