Taught course

Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (National Award)

University of Birmingham · School of Education

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Entry requirements

All applicants will need to be qualified teachers (with QTS) and working as SENCOs. If you are unsure about your eligibility please contact the School of Education.

Months of entry


Course content

The National Award is a mandatory qualification which all SENCos who are new in role must undertake. The law states that SENCos in all mainstream, state-funded English schools must either be “experienced”, hold the award, or be working towards the award. All prospective applicants must refer to the detailed eligibility criteria for the Award which is available on the website.

The training courses are 12 months in duration however SENCos have up to three years from the point at which they are designated as a lead SENCo in which to complete the award. Final responsibility for ensuring the school’s compliance lies with the school’s governing body.

The course is designed to support all SENCos’ professional development, giving them an opportunity to reflect upon and improve their practice whilst learning more about the coordination of special educational needs.

This course will ensure that SENCOs working in a range of settings are able to carry out their responsibilities in relation to key tasks outlined in the SEN Code of Practice (2001) & the SENCO Regulations (2009), including those that focus on ‘day-to-day’ & ‘strategic & leadership’ dimensions of the role. It will also ensure that SENCOs are up-to-date with regard to key changes being made to the SEN system in England. These include major changes to legislation (as set out in the Children and Families Bill introduced to Parliament in the early part of 2013), associated regulations and the new 0-25 SEN Code of Practice (available for consultation in late 2013) due to come into force in September 2014.

The following key components of the new SEN system will be outlined during the course with a consideration of the implications for SENCOs, schools, parents, children and young people:

  • joint service planning and commissioning
  • family centred support
  • the introduction of a clear ‘local offer’
  • single assessment procedures and Education and Health Care plans
  • school based Additional SEN Support (‘single category’)
  • SEN funding (including the delegated and personal budgets)
  • continuity and transition (pre- and post-school)

The course will also take account of the work of SEN and Disability Pathfinder projects as they continue to test proposed components of the new SEN system.

Content of the course addresses all of the learning outcomes in the National Award specification & covers:

  • the role of the SENCO & the statutory framework for SEND (including relevant policy requirements)
  • effective approaches to identification, assessment & intervention (principles & practice; differentiation – quality first teaching, waves of intervention, individualised education planning)
  • responding to diversity (areas of need) – cognition & learning; communication & interaction; behaviour, emotional & social difficulties; physical & sensory impairment
  • pupil participation, parent partnership & inter-service collaboration
  • inclusive provision management (effective use of human resources & interventions, & evidence based practice)
  • developing & sustaining effective SEND leadership (preparation for inspection; whole-school initiatives such as Achievement for All)
  • professional development to improve practice

Course content is related to specific local contexts (teaching contributions from experts with local knowledge/experience).

As the policy context in which SENCOs carry out their roles evolves - to reflect government priorities - the course will keep participants fully up-to-date with relevant legislative changes, key policy initiatives, emerging research evidence & the implications of these for practice.

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Information for international students

International students can find details of scholarships on our website

Fees and funding

Please visit our website

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PGCert
    part time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Postgraduate enquiry service
0121 414 5005