A special educational needs (SEN) teacher is specifically employed to work with children and young adults who need extra support or require an advanced programme of education in order to complete their learning successfully.
SEN teachers may work with individuals who are physically disabled, sensory impaired (i.e. deaf/blind), have speech and language difficulties such as dyslexia, have a mental disability such as autism, are emotionally vulnerable, have behavioural difficulties or have a combination of these disabilities. An SEN teacher may also work with gifted and talented individuals.
A key aspect of working in this field is identifying individual needs and being responsible for creating a safe, stimulating and supportive learning environment.
Typical work activities
The work of an SEN teacher is often challenging and varied and may involve:
teaching either individuals or small groups of pupils within or outside the class;
preparing lessons and resources;
marking and assessing work;
developing and adapting conventional teaching methods to meet the individual needs of pupils;
using special equipment and facilities, such as audiovisual materials and computers to stimulate interest in learning;
using specialist skills, such as teaching Braille to pupils with visual impairments or sign language and lip reading to students who have hearing impairments;
collaborating with the classroom teacher to define appropriate activities for the pupils in relation to the curriculum;
assessing children who have long or short-term learning difficulties and working with colleagues to identify individual pupils' special needs;
liaising with other professionals, such as social workers, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and educational psychologists;
liaising closely with parents and guardians;
organising learning outside the classroom in activities such as community visits, school outings or sporting events;
assisting in severely disabled pupils' personal care/medical needs;
administration, including updating and maintaining records on pupils' progress;
attending statutory annual reviews or other related meetings, such as Looked After Child (LAC) reviews, regarding students with an SEN, which may involve reviewing statements of special educational needs;
receiving in-service training;
Written by Laura Stanley, University of Wolverhampton
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