What is a SENCO?

If you’ve ever been worried about your child’s learning at school, then you may have had dealings with a SENCO. For those of you not familiar with the term, it’s a teacher for providing advice, guidance and instruction in all matters relating to special educational needs. The SENCO has a vital role to play in making sure all children with special educational needs and disabilities receive the support they need within the school environment.

Over recent years, the status and importance of the role has developed. The SENCO must now be a qualified teacher and a newly appointed SENCO must achieve a National award in Special Educational Needs Coordination in the first three years. They also will have been through an enhanced DBS Check. For more information, visit http://www.carecheck.co.uk/

It’s not just about working with the individual children as the SENCO has an important role to play with the headteacher and governing body in determining the strategic development of SEN policy and provision within the school and will be most effective if they are part of the school leadership team.

What are the responsibilities of a SENCO:

The main responsibility is overseeing the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEN policy but also:

  • Supporting the identification of children with special educational needs.
  • Liaising with parents of children with SEN.
  • Liaising with other providers, outside agencies, educational psychologists and external agencies.
  • Ensuring that the school keeps the records of all pupils with SEN up to date.
  • Co-ordinating provision for children with SEN

There are 4 main areas of need for SEN children:

  • Cognition and Learning
  • Sensory and Physical
  • Communication and Interaction
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health

What to expect from your SENCO

You should expect a great commitment to working in partnership with you to provide the best service possible for your child and be open and communicative. You should expect the SENCO to ensure that any plans or provision agreed for your child are carried out by the school.

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What questions should I ask my school?

The three key questions could include:

  1. What expertise is there in the school to support my child?
  2. What support is or will be in place, which is additional to or different from what children without SEN are receiving?
  3. Is the support working and is my child making progress?

Encourage honesty in all communication as it is important that you receive honest answers to these questions even if it’s not always exactly what you might want to hear. Knowing that you are dealing with honesty will build your trust in the school. You should feel well-informed and invited to regular review meetings where you can discuss how things are going. In school, they should advocate for your child by understanding his or her needs and ensuring that everyone who regularly works with your child knows how best to support them.

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Qualities of a SENCO

  • Honesty about what is and what is not being provided
  • commitment to continually improving the service.
  • An understanding and empathy for children with SEN.
  • Strong communication skills