Special educational needs coordinators work to raise educational achievement by leading and coordinating provision for pupils with special educational needs

As a SENCO, you'll be an experienced teacher with a passion for supporting pupils with special educational needs. Working closely with staff, parents and other appropriate professionals, the main purpose of the role is to apply your leadership skills to guide other teachers with delivering a provision to raise education achievements for special educational needs (SEN) pupils.

Your responsibilities will include devising the school strategy to help ensure that every child who is classified as SEN is supported to help them reach their full educational potential. You may also have teaching responsibilities and will be required to design and deliver interventions within and outside the classroom. You may have the opportunity to work either within one school or across multiple schools.

This role is also known as a special educational needs and disabilities coordinator (SENDCO), additional learning needs coordinator (ALNCo), or an additional support coordinator. You might also be interested in the role of a special educational needs teacher. SEN teachers often progress to become a SENCO.


As a SENCO, you'll need to:

  • be aware of different learning difficulties and disabilities which are classified as SEN, and providing equity to each child depending on their own individual needs
  • develop and oversee the implementation of the school's SEN strategy and policy
  • carry out four-part cycle assessments of pupils with SEN to identify needs and monitor progress - including observations in the classroom and meeting with teachers and parents
  • work with classroom teachers, the school leadership team, parents and relevant external agencies to develop, implement and monitor individual support/learning plans
  • build rapports with the pupils to set personalised education, health and care (EHC) plans, which include social and academic targets
  • provide termly updates on pupil progress through written reports and visual evidence (videos)
  • chair annual reviews to provide relevant agencies with updates on the pupils' progression towards targets
  • develop learning resources to help with pupils' development, including sensory and visual to improve fine motor skills
  • support teachers to develop and implement effective teaching and behaviour management approaches in the classroom
  • make referrals and liaise with professionals outside of the school within local authorities and health care services, including psychologists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists
  • provide advice and training to classroom teachers on supporting pupils with SEN and offer further guidance if needed
  • manage and advise on the school budget and resources for SEN provision
  • develop and maintain systems for keeping pupil records, ensuring information is accurate and up to date
  • analyse school, local and national data and develop appropriate strategies and interventions.
  • keep up to date with national and local policies including the code of practice related to SEN and cascade information to colleagues.


  • Qualified teachers in England and Wales earn between £30,000 and £41,333. Experienced teachers can then move on to the upper pay scale which ranges from £43,266 to £46,525. Teachers in London receive an additional allowance.
  • All teachers with responsibility for SEN pupils receive an additional allowance of between £2,539 and £5,009.
  • You'll also receive a Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) payment ranging between £9,272 and £15,690. The exact amount will be determined by the school you work for.
  • As part of the senior leadership team, you could earn a higher salary of between £47,185 and £131,056.
  • Salaries are similar for qualified teachers in Northern Ireland, ranging from £24,137 to £41,094 on the main and upper pay scale. You'll receive an additional SEN allowance of between £2,240 and £4,424.
  • In Scotland, you're likely to be a principal teacher if you have responsibility for SEN strategy and provision. The pay scale for principal teachers ranges from £52,896 to £68,265. There are also additional allowances for working in remote schools.
  • Your salary will depend on how much teaching experience you have, and the level of additional responsibility assigned to your role. Another factor is whether you're working in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

 Income data from NASUWT - The Teachers' Union. Figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

In most state schools, further education colleges and alternative provision settings you'll generally work 39 weeks of the year, with the typical teaching day starting at 8:30am and finishing between 3:30pm and 4pm. This can vary depending on the school and local authority. You may have different hours if working in an independent (privately funded) school. An extended teaching day, teaching on Saturdays and longer vacation periods are common.

In addition, you'll be required to work some evenings for meetings and events such as parents' evenings. Leadership teams are allocated time to complete administrative duties but it's also likely that you'll need to work outside of school hours and term time.

Opportunities for part-time work are available.

What to expect

  • The role can be highly rewarding, as you'll have the opportunity to directly contribute to pupils receiving the support they need, to achieve their potential. However, it can be challenging if there are constraints on school resources and the support available from external agencies.
  • You may be based in more than one school and may also have a teaching timetable, so you'll need to balance your work as a SENCO alongside your other responsibilities of teaching and preparing for classes.
  • There are significant administrative responsibilities of the role as you are required to complete referral forms, write reports and maintain accurate pupil records, which can be time-consuming. You may need to work outside of school hours to complete these tasks.
  • You need to be proactive during your studies and early on in your teaching career to gain the SEN knowledge and experience you need to progress to a SENCO role. You may need to ask to attend SEN training and for opportunities to support the SENCO and work with children with SEN. Keeping up to date with policy developments is also important, particularly in areas of growing interest and provision such as mental health.


You must be a qualified teacher to work as a SENCO.

To achieve qualified teacher status (QTS) in England and Wales you'll need to complete an undergraduate degree in any subject and then complete a postgraduate teaching qualification (a PGCE). There are different postgraduate training routes available including school-led and university-led courses.

Alternatively, you could complete an undergraduate degree which provides QTS, such as a BA or BSc in Education. This is a more common route into primary school teaching. Some universities offer programmes that qualify you to teach in secondary schools and include a subject specialism.

For more information on entry requirements and routes into teaching, see teacher training and education.

In Scotland, you can obtain qualified teacher status through a four-year undergraduate degree in education, or by completing an undergraduate degree in another subject followed by the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE). For more information, see Teaching in Scotland.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you'll also need a further postgraduate qualification called the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination (NASENCO). If you're an experienced SEN teacher you may be able to get a job as a SENCO without the award, but you'll be required to complete it within three years of taking up your post. For some roles, it can be an advantage or even a requirement to have already completed the award. Most teachers study for the award part time alongside their job. For more details and a list of providers, see the information provided by the National Association of Special Educational Needs (NASEN).

Search postgraduate qualifications in special educational needs.

To work in some specialist roles, you may also need to undertake other qualifications. For example, an accredited Early Years SENCO award could be an advantage if you would like to work in either a maintained or independent Early Years setting.


You'll need to have:

  • a strong commitment to raising educational attainment for children and young people with SEN, including working with pupils directly and supporting other staff
  • a willingness and ability to develop specialist knowledge and keep up to date with local and national policy and developments
  • influencing and negotiation skills - to ensure the strategy and policy of the school is effective for SEN pupils, this may require further sufficient internal resources and necessary support from external agencies
  • leadership skills - to inspire and motivate other teachers, model good practice and embed a whole school commitment to supporting pupils with SEN
  • interpersonal skills and teamworking - for building relationships with parents, teachers and external professionals, and working together to achieve the set strategy
  • written communication skills - for writing education, health and care (EHC) plans and setting targets, completing termly reports on pupil progress and writing training guides for staff
  • organisation and time-management skills - needed for prioritising and balancing a busy and varied workload
  • empathy and emotional intelligence, for recognising and responding sensitively to the needs of pupils and parents
  • analytical and problem-solving skills - necessary for analysing school, local and national data and developing appropriate strategies and interventions.

Work experience

Experience of teaching and supporting pupils with SEN is essential. If you have obtained experience in different settings and with pupils of different ages, this will also be beneficial. As the SENCO role is a leadership position, any management experience in a school setting would be advantageous.

If you are thinking about progressing into this area as a newly qualified teacher (NQT) you should seek opportunities to develop your skills and experience working with pupils with SEN in your school and other pastoral responsibilities.

Experience of working with or within other organisations that support SEN pupils may also be valuable. For example, you could shadow or volunteer with a health or social care provider, therapist or educational psychologist.

Before you qualify, you could gain experience as a teaching assistant, or in a support or volunteering role with children or young people with SEN. You could also contact local schools that support SEN pupils, both mainstream and specialist, to see if you could visit and observe lessons.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


Most SENCOs work within mainstream schools. This includes both local-authority-maintained schools, academies and free schools, and privately funded schools. SENCOs work in early years, primary, secondary, and further education settings. Opportunities may also exist within alternative education provision, such as Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).

This is a role that exists primarily in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, their title is additional support for learning assistant.

Look for vacancies at:

Some specialist agencies including Education-Jobs and eteach recruit for teaching positions.

Professional development

To become a SENCO, you'll be required to complete the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination (NASENCO) within three years of starting your role. Schools will usually support individuals with obtaining the qualification as a next step for career progression.

You could also progress to a Masters degree, such as an MA in education or inclusion. In many cases, you'd be able to transfer the credits you've already obtained from the NASENCO, depending on when you completed your qualification.

In some parts of the UK you can also progress from the NASENCO to do the Advanced SENCO Award or the SENCO as Leaders Award, which would support your progression to more senior leadership positions within your school or across multiple schools. Nasen also runs a leadership programme which would enable you to complete a National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership which focuses specifically on special education needs and disability (SEND).

You may also choose to do further specialist courses or qualifications depending on your role or the area of SEND you would like to move into.

These could include:

Professional associations like the National Education Union also provide courses and events for all teachers to develop teaching, professional and school leadership skills.

Career prospects

Experience as a SENCO will prepare you to progress to other roles in school leadership. For example, you could become an inclusion manager, with responsibility for SEND but also other areas such as behaviour management, attendance, pupil premium and safeguarding. You could also go on to work as an assistant head teacher and eventually head teacher.

You could also develop your career by moving into a leadership role within a SEN school, or alternative provision setting.

Some SENCOs move into education consultancy and training roles. As an education consultant, you could use your teaching, leadership and specialist SEND experience to support schools and local authorities to develop the curriculum, policy and provision for SEND pupils. You could also teach current and aspiring SENCOs in further or higher education.

You could also use your experience to go on to work for a local authority in a school liaison role, or as a SEND officer overseeing the fulfilment of statutory responsibilities towards SEND pupils.

If you wish to take your career in a related but alternative direction you could undertake further specialist qualifications and train as a therapist or educational psychologist.

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