If your child has a special educational need, you have probably already met the school’s SENCO - but what does a SENCO do, and how can they help?
SENCO stands for Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator. This is the teacher within a school who is responsible for assessments of children with special educational needs (SEN), as well as planning and monitoring their progress.
A SENCO who has been in their position since before 2009 may have received training on the job, but since 2009 all SENCOs must complete a Masters level National Award for Special Educational Needs.
It’s likely that the first time you meet a SENCO will be at the diagnosis stage. If you or your child’s teacher believe your child may have an undiagnosed special educational need, the SENCO will go into their class to observe them before providing advice on what the next steps should be. A SENCO will help not only those with physical or learning difficulties; they are also there to help children with behavioural problems or emotional needs. This includes helping a child who may have a short-term need, such as coping with a bereavement.
If the SENCO observes your child in class and feels they would benefit from additional support they can make referrals to external professionals, such as a speech and language therapist or occupational therapist. They will also be involved in any meetings with these professionals as time goes on.
The SENCO will also work with your child’s teacher to create a personalised SEN support plan for your child. This will set out what your child’s learning targets are, who will provide additional support, and how this will be monitored.
A SENCO may also advise that additional funding is required. Either your or the school can request an Educational, Health and Care needs assessment, a detailed investigation which is carried out by the local authority. If the local authority determines that the school will require additional funding in order to meet your child’s needs, an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) will be issued. This sets out your child’s specific needs and the additional help they will need.
The SENCO will play an ongoing and crucial role in ensuring your child’s educational needs are met. They may help the class teacher with their planning to ensure lessons are accessible to your child, providing advice and resources to help with this. They will also coordinate meetings between you, your child’s teachers, and anyone else involved in supporting your child’s education.