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Every mainstream school must have a member of staff who is responsible for overseeing the support given to students. This person is called the SENDCO or SENCO. This is a job role that all schools are required to have.

What do the acronyms SENDCO and SENCO stand for?

SENDCO stands for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator. SENCO stands for Special Educational Needs Coordinator. The terms are both used in schools.

What is a SENDCO?

The role of SENDCO is normally filled by a qualified teacher who has had extra training about SEND. This person is responsible for special educational needs within a school. They arrange all the extra support for children and young people with SEND. Every school in the UK is required to have a SENDCO to ensure that every child is supported to reach their full educational potential.

The SENDCO can support teachers to adapt and differentiate their lessons so all the children can access the learning.

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What are the characteristics of a SENDCO?

SENDCOs work closely with students. They need to:

  • Be easy to talk to
  • Be empathetic
  • Be able to identify needs
  • Have a good knowledge of the support available for students and families
  • Be able to advocate for children and their families
  • Have good communication skills - they need to communicate effectively with students, parents, staff and outside agencies
  • Be organised
  • Be a good listener
  • Be honest and able to stand their ground
  • Be practical
  • Be supportive
  • Be committed to raising educational attainment
  • Be committed to supporting the mental health of children
  • Have good problem solving skills
  • Be able to see the bigger picture
Adults supporting a SEND child in the classroom

What provisions might a SENDCO put in place to support a child?

The provisions a SENDCO might suggest will depend on the needs of the child and the resources available to them. Support might happen internally - this means it might be provided by the school, or it might be provided by an external provider.

Internal provision could include organising a group for one child or multiple children with a specific focus, for example a booster maths group or an emotional literacy group. It could involve providing a child with a specific resource for example a tablet, or fiddle toys.  

External provision could include organising for the child to work with an Educational Psychologist (EP), for the family to access Early Help or liasing with CAMHS.

CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. CAMHS is run by the NHS, it is a services that assesses and treats young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties. A CAMHS assessment can be the route to additional support.

How can parents support their child and the SENDCO?

In order for a child or young person to get the support they need the adults around them need to work together and be honest with each other. This requires the school and the family to work together to achieve the common goal of best supporting a child. Working out the most effective way to support a child means the SENCO needs to have a complete picture of the child and their needs.

Parents have the important role of advocating for their child. Sharing an accurate picture helps the SENDCO to better understand the child and their strengths and needs. SENDCOs are often managing the needs of a huge number of children as well as resource and budget constraints. They have a good knowledge of the support available in the area and the best way to access the support. If parents have an idea of the support they think would benefit their child it is helpful to share this with the SENDCO, while remaining mindful that the SENDCO will do the best they can with the resources they have available to them.

Communicating with families is an important part of being a SENDCO

How can you become a SENDCO?

A SENDCO must be a qualified teacher. This means they must have QTS. A SENDCO must achieve the National Award in Special Educational Needs Coordination within 3 years of starting their first SENDCO position.

FREE SEN provision map

FREE SEND Acronyms Glossary

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