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What are SENCOs and what do they do?

Updated: May 3, 2023

SENCO stands for special educational needs coordinator and every school in the UK has to have one.

SENCO roles and responsibilities

A SENCO is responsible for the school’s special education department and the register of all special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) children in the school. The SENCO’s job is to coordinate additional support for pupils with SEND, and liaise with parents, teachers and other professionals who support those children. All SENCOs must be qualified teachers and gain the National Award in Special Education Needs Coordination within three years of being appointed to their role.

SENCO in schools

The SENCO is the first port of call for teachers and parents if they think something is not quite right with a SEND child or they feel the child is falling behind their school peers in literacy and numeracy. It is the SENCO’s job to ascertain if the child’s needs are severe enough to warrant further investigation. Often, if the SENCO feels it necessary, initial literacy and numeracy tests are done in school before contacting the parents.

It’s important to note that the SENCO is not usually in a position to diagnose a specific learning disability. SENCO qualifications provide an overview of legislation for SEND provision rather than the tools to diagnose an individual’s condition. Obviously, there are some SENCOs who do have specific qualifications in all types of SEND needs and can make a very competent diagnosis. However, you can think of most SENCOs like GPs; they can provide general guidance, but often the individual’s specific needs must be addressed by a specialist. In schools, SENCOs will typically bring in outside educational specialists to determine the precise conditions and needs of a SEND child.

Things to consider when choosing a school

There are some key considerations to look into when choosing a school for your SEND child, including:

  • The SEND department has a strong reputation.

  • You like the SENCO.

  • Websites like Mumsnet recommend the school and/or SENCO.

A resource like Mumsnet is a good place to start your research because it will give you a more realistic picture, often with lots of reader input and opinion.

You can also visit the governments site about SEND children for more information about the role of a SENCO and the steps you need to take to be get the right help for your child.

Looking for personalized support to help your child succeed? Meet Charlotte, a teacher for 11 years and qualified SENCO. She currently teaches in a SEND School, supporting children with ASC and GDD. Learn more about Charlotte and how she can make a difference in your child's education journey: Charlotte

I have an 8 year old son with an ASD, ADHD AND dyslexia. He’d been hugely struggling at school, so I decided to get a weekly specialist tutor to help him with his reading, writing and maths. SEND Tutoring has been totally amazing. My son seems to actually enjoy learning for the first time ever! Anna Samuel
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