With the roll-out of national training for new SENCOs under way, SENCO Week updates you on its learning outcomes

Happy New Year to you!

Any New Year resolutions? Apart from the less eating/drinking-and-more-exercise type of intentions, you may be thinking of some professional goals this term. The roll-out of national training for new SENCOs began last September, with some providers just getting going this month, so we thought it might be timely to put you in the picture about what the training will cover. Over the coming term, we will help you to audit and update your own professional standards, whether you’ve been a SENCO for two years or 22 years.

Support for SENCOs
As you know, new government regulations now require schools to have a SENCo who is:

  • a qualified teacher, or a person who has been in the role of SENCo for at least six months (prior to 31 August 2008) who is training to become a qualified teacher by September 2011, and
  • is in a senior management position in the school or has the full backing of a member of the senior leadership team designated as the ‘champion of SEN and disability issues’ within the school

All new SENCOs who have taken up the role since September 2008 must successfully complete the national award for special educational needs coordination within three years of taking on the role. It is hoped that this training will enhance the status and professionalism of SENCOs and increase their competence, confidence and self-esteem. It is also seen as a way of achieving some consistency of provision, both locally and nationally.

The training is designed to enable SENCOs to increase the participation of pupils with SEN and/or disabilities and raise their achievement in relation to all five Every Child Matters outcomes: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic wellbeing. This will involve developing SENCOs’ professional attributes and improving their knowledge, understanding and skills in order to fulfil the role set out in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (2001).

The learning outcomes for new SENCOs are set out under five main headings:

Professional context

  • Understanding statutory and regulatory frameworks and relevant developments at national and local level.
  • Knowing how extended services can be used to improve outcomes for pupils with SEN and/or disabilities.
  • Having a good knowledge of high-incidence SEN and disabilities, how they can affect pupils’ participation and learning (the four areas of need set out in the SEN Code of Practice) and the implications of these for inclusive teaching and learning.
  • Using evidence about learning, teaching and assessment in relation to pupils with SEN to inform practice.
  • Understanding strategies and resources for assessment and how to select, use and adapt them to personalise provision and remove barriers to assessment for pupils with SEN and/or disabilities.

Strategic development of SEN policy and procedures

  • Working strategically with senior colleagues and governors to influence the strategic development of an inclusive ethos, policies and practices.
  • Undertaking financial planning, budget management and use of resources in line with best value principles, using tools such as provision mapping to plan, evaluate and improve provision for pupils with SEN and/or disabilities.

Coordinating provision

  • Developing, using, monitoring and evaluating systems for:

a) identifying pupils with SEN and/or disabilities b) informing all staff about the learning needs, behaviour and achievement of these pupils c) planning approaches and interventions to meet pupils’ needs d) recording and reviewing pupils’ progress

e) assessing the effectiveness of provision for pupils with SEN and/or disabilities

  • Deploying staff and managing resources.

Leading, developing and supporting colleagues

  • Providing professional direction to the work of others, promoting improvements in teaching and learning and supporting staff in identifying, assessing and meeting the needs of pupils with SEN and/or disabilities.
  • Knowing the range of professional development opportunities available for staff (including support staff and beginner teachers) to improve their practice in working with pupils with SEN and/or disabilities.

Working in partnership with pupils, families and other professionals

  • Understanding the principles of multi-agency working, building ‘the team around the child’, and the Common Assessment Framework and how to use it, where appropriate, for pupils with SEN and/or disabilities.
  • Knowing how to draw on specialist support and resources for pupils with SEN and/or disabilities, including from special schools and other specialist services or provision.
  • Ensuring that pupils with SEN and/or disabilities are involved, whenever appropriate, in planning, agreeing, reviewing and evaluating the provision made for them.
  • Communicating effectively with parents and carers of pupils with SEN and/or disabilities, taking account of their views and providing them with timely and relevant information about the achievement, targets, progress and wellbeing of their children.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in January 2010

About the author: Linda Evans is the author of SENCO Week. She was a teacher/SENCO/adviser/inspector, before joining the publishing world. She now works as a freelance writer, editor and part-time college tutor.