SENCo Qualifications, Training and Training for Professionals (and parents)


Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators, often known as SENCos leading the teaching and learning support for children with Special Educational Needs (and disabilities) in a school or setting.

The Department for Education says:

SENCOs play a very important role in leading the co-ordination of provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in schools.

The importance of SENCos in schools has been reiterated in the SEND code of practice and the Children’s and Families Bill.

Legislation introduced in 2008 prescribes the qualifications and experience a teacher should have to be designated a SENCo and the governing bodies’ functions relating to the key responsibilities of the SENCO.

In September 2009 it became law for every new SENCo in a mainstream school to gain the Master’s-level National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator within 3 years of taking up the post.

The draft revised learning outcomes for the National Award for SEN Co-ordination have now replaced the previous outcomes, after the final approval of the new SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years which applied from 1 September 2014.




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

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

It’s also possible to do an undergraduate degree which will provide 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.

All Initial Teacher Training (ITT) must ensure the same outcomes for it be accredited:  these can be found on the Department for Education’s website

The document makes clear the expectations of ITT and SEND are:

Consideration of SEND, Disadvantage and Mental Health
The ITT Core Content Framework has been designed in the knowledge that the quality of teaching is the most important factor in improving outcomes for pupils – particularly pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with additional needs. As such, the ITT Core Content Framework is designed to help trainee teachers take their first steps towards becoming expert teachers of the future who can transform the lives all pupils.

Careful consideration has been given to the needs of trainee teachers in relation to supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs, encompassing those pupils identified within the four areas of need set out in the Special Educational Needs and Disability code of practice. As with the ECF, the ITT Core Content Framework is deliberately designed to emphasise the importance of high quality teaching, which is particularly important for disadvantaged pupils and those with additional needs. For this reason, the ITT Core Content Framework deliberately does not detail approaches specific to particular additional needs – to reflect the importance of quality first teaching – while also providing opportunity for providers to tailor their curricula to the needs of their trainees.  Similarly, the ITT Core Content Framework has been reviewed with consideration with how to best prepare trainee teachers to support pupils with their mental health, including – but not limited to – by creating respectful cultures within their classrooms where pupils feel motivated and valued. Throughout, the ITT Core Content Framework highlights the importance of building strong, positive relationships with pupils – as well as their parents and carers – as a means of supporting all pupils to achieve.

Support for Behaviour Management Training
A key finding of the Carter Review of initial teacher training (2015) was the importance to trainees of high-quality training to improve
behaviour management. Whilst this review of the ITT Core Content Framework builds on and replaces the 2016 document, the Behaviour Management Report (2016) remains an important and useful tool for providers designing their ITT curricula. An easy-to use summary of this review – updated in line with the new ITT Core Content Framework – is provided to support providers in designing their curriculum.


Those who wish to become SENCo’s will need to complete a mandatory professional post-graduate qualification worth 60 credits towards a Masters qualification.  There are learning outcomes for the SENCo Award are set by the National College for Teaching and Leadership and each accredited course provider (usually universities) determines how these are delivered.

For SENCOs new to the role it is mandatory to achieve the award within three years of appointment.

SENCos are not expected to be specialists in all specific needs but to have the skills and knowledge to ensure that they and others working with a child gain the knowledge needed.  Nor are they expected to be solicitors versed in the detail of appeals processes – they are required to know the statutory and regulatory context for SEN and disability equality and the  implications for practice in their school or work setting.  Parent cares have ‘expert by experience’ knowledge and skills that, when combined with the expertise of teaching and learning professionals and the SENCo should ensure high quality outcomes for each child or young person.




The National Association for Special Educational Needs is a charitable membership organisation that exists to support and champion those working with, and for, children and young people with SEND and learning differences.

They do this by providing free resources and support for all members, leading targeted programmes and projects to deliver widespread improvements, offering a structured programme of professional development, accredited training and conferences as well as a package of SEND services throughout the UK and internationally.

Membership is free and there are lots of free resources  – these are aimed at professionals including SENCos.

There are charged courses for professionals but a parent carers wanting professional level insights may find them of  interest.

There are resources under the heading of  ‘What works’ which focus on specific types of need.