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Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)

A SENCO (special educational needs co-ordinator) is responsible for an education settings Special Educational Needs (SEN) policy and for arrranging help and assistance for children who need additional support.

Their job is to:

  • make sure the SEN policy is used 
  • make sure staff in the setting understand their responsibilities for children with SEN and the setting’s approach to identifying and supporting SEN.
  • work with parents to help their child. The SENCO is likely to be the person who liaises with you about your child’s needs and any needs identified in the Education, Health and Care Plan if your child has one.
  • support staff to identify, assess and plan for the needs of children with SEND and the development of support programmes.
  • work with local council support services
  • work with other professionals, as appropriate, to ensure support is co-ordinated and targeted.

SENCOs in early years education settings should be qualified to level 3 in a relevant childcare qualification. SENCOs in schools need Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and have a postgraduate qualification. 

SENCOs work in early years settings, schools and post-16 education provision.

Early years settings must meet the SEN needs of the children they look after. Those in group provision are expected to identify a SENCO. Childminders are encouraged to identify a person to act as SENCO and childminders who are registered with a childminder agency or who are part of a network could share the role between them.

All mainstream schools and maintained nursery schools must have a SENCO.

Mainstream colleges must support students with SEN in a similar way to schools. This includes doing everything they can to identify the needs of students with SEN and putting in place the help they need through SEN support. There should be a named person in charge of support for students with SEN. 

Professionals working in education settings in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole have access to professional development opportunities, including SENCO networks, provided by the local authority through the CPD Online platform. Some of this is funded and some is provided at a charge. Additionally, Teaching Schools provide a wide range of training on a range of inclusion related topics such as ASD. Schools and other education settings also provide their own development opportunities. The National Association of Special Educational Needs (NASEN) also provide development opportunities.