Gareth D Morewood blogged here for two years, 2008-2010. Gareth's first eBook, The Role of the SENCO: An Insider's Guide, is now available from the Optimus Education shop.
The SENCO qualification debate rages on in this article by Lauren Higgs.
The ASCL – Association of School and College Leaders – insists that 'special educational needs provision would not be improved by making SENCOs become teachers.'
And that 'while the majority of schools choose to have a SENCO with qualified teacher status, a significant minority do not and they should not be forced to dismantle a structure which is working well.'
I am not a staunch advocate that SENCOs MUST be teachers; however I do question the research by which the ASCL has reached the conclusion that 'a significant minority' of non-teacher SENCOs would result in the 'dismantling of structures [that] work well'.
There are many SENCOs with QTS who struggle to manage the nature of the job, and many non-QTS SENCOs who are brilliant. I do not personally think that the over-arching view that all SENCOs need QTS is a good one; however it is difficult to look favorably upon the ASCL's argument, particularly when faced with the level-headed response from the DCFS: 'Our new regulations require SENCOs to be qualified teachers so they have the necessary authority to negotiate, with qualified colleagues, differentiated teaching provision geared to individual pupil needs. This is essential to improving outcomes for children who are already at significant disadvantage.'
That does seem sensible to me. I cannot see the DCSF changing this duty, and I do know that some excellent SENCOs will struggle to remain in post by 2011, the deadline for QTS. However, I have yet to be convinced by the ASCL's argument against.