The important issue regarding the professional status of SENCOs was raised during the Select Committee of Inquiry (SEN) oral evidence sessions held on 8 March 2005.

At end of the first session the committee chairman Barry Sheerman asked Ralph Tabberer, representing the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), whether SENCOs should be qualified teachers. Unfortunately, there was little or no time for the TDA’s outgoing chief executive to respond. However, he did indicate that it was not necessarily the case that SENCOs should be teachers.

The issue was taken up again at the beginning of the second session when teacher unions gave evidence. John Bangs (National Union of Teachers), responded to Barry Sheerman’s question about SENCOs unequivocally, and expressed concern that the role was not regarded as one that required a teacher qualification.

He also highlighted how the role had been clearly defined in relation to senior teaching responsibilities in the SEN Code of Practice 2001.

This highlighting of a major concern should ensure that the Select Committee comments on the role of the SENCO when it publishes its formal report after Easter.

Note: Oral evidence in these sessions was given by Miriam Rosen, Ofsted; Eileen Visser, Ofsted; David Curtis, Audit Commission; and Joan Baxter, Audit Commission; Ralph Tabberer, TDA for Schools (now Director General Schools, DfES), and by John Bangs, NUT; Rona Tutt, NAHT; Dr Mary Bousted, ATL; and Darren Northcott, NASUWT.

Transcripts of uncorrected oral evidence are available on the UK parliament website.