A special educational needs (SEN) teacher is specifically employed to work with children and young people who need extra support, or require an advanced programme of learning in order to reach their full educational potential.
SEN teachers may work with individuals who have physical disabilities, sensory impairments (i.e. hearing or visual), speech and language difficulties, learning difficulties such as dyslexia, conditions such as autism, social, emotional and mental health needs, or have a combination of these difficulties.
A 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 a 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;
- working with the head teacher and governing body to ensure that the requirements of the Equality Act (2010) are met in terms of reasonable adjustments and access arrangements;
- liaising with other professionals, such as social workers, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and educational psychologists;
- working 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 of pupils' progress;
- attending statutory annual reviews or other related meetings, such as Looked After Child (LAC) reviews, regarding students with a SEN, which may involve reviewing Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans;
- receiving in-service training;
- behaviour management.
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