Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Teachers work with children who find learning harder due to their extra learning needs and/or disabilities. They are extraordinary Teachers who know that one size doesn’t fit all, and who are passionate about instilling their pupils with a desire to learn through creative and innovative teaching methods.
Importance of a SEND School Teacher
To become a high-performing SEND school Teacher, you will need more than just relevant qualifications and teaching experience. Your resilience to challenging pupil behaviour and the ability to make learning fun are essential.
There are two principal types of SEND school settings:
- Mainstream SEND education – pupils who have SEND needs are often taught alongside their peers without special needs in a classroom setting with extra learning assistance from a Teacher, Teaching Assistant (TA) or Learning Support Assistant (LSA) with SEND specific training and qualifications. This type of classroom support is designed to ensure that SEND pupils are supported within a positive environment, where lessons are delivered in a way that they will understand.
- Specialist SEND schools – for children with more acute SEND needs. A SEND only school could be more suitable than support within a mainstream school. Some of these specialist schools are intended for children with specific needs, such as those who have visual impairments for example. Others are for SEND children with a broad range of educational learning needs and/or disabilities.
The types of roles found within SEND teaching include:
- SEND Teaching Assistants (TAs) – provide support to the class Teacher with tailored teaching for SEND children, sometimes in a small group or on a one-to-one basis. SEND TAs are expected to help deliver lessons that have been adapted for Key Stage curriculum levels 2 through to 4.
- SEND Teachers – work across a variety of age groups and educational needs using engaging teaching methods adapted for the specific learning needs of SEND children. SEND Teachers are expected to work with SEND TAs to implement any support plans that are devised in conjunction with the child’s SENDCO (see below).
- SEND Cover/Supply Teachers – are like mainstream Cover Teachers, but they must have the relevant SEND qualifications and experience in working with children who have extra learning needs.
- Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinators (SENDCOs) – are usually experienced Teachers who have moved into a SENDCO role. They support Teachers with designing and delivering the adapted lessons and monitor each SEND child’s development. They also coordinate the required extra professional services each SEND child requires to make the most of their education, such as therapists, psychologists, and physiotherapists.
SEND School Teacher responsibilities and how they are measured
As a SEND Teacher, you are responsible for achieving the best possible learning outcomes for your pupils by using teaching methods that target their areas of difficulty and adapt these as their needs change. The support given to each child should be based on a holistic understanding of their strengths and needs.
Four areas of need within SEND include:
- Cognition and learning needs – there are a wide range of different needs of SEND children, from moderate and severe, to profound learning difficulties. These encompass complex learning needs, physical disabilities, and sensory impairments.
- Communication and interaction needs – children with speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN) may have difficulties saying what they want to say, they may not understand what is being said to them, or they may not grasp the rules of social interaction.
- Social, emotional, and mental health needs – emotional needs can manifest in many ways, including those who become withdrawn or who display challenging and disruptive behaviours. Underlying mental health issues may evidence themselves through eating disorders, self-harming, anxiety, depression, unexplained medical conditions, and/or substance misuse.
- Sensory and/or physical needs – the specialist sensory and physical needs of SEND children can prevent them from using mainstream educational facilities and they may require support and specialist equipment to access their learning.
A process commonly used to identify the SEND needs in children is the “assess, plan, do, review” approach. A SEND Teacher is required to successfully assess the needs of the child in conjunction with the SENCO, plus note any relevant observations and advice from outside agencies. A plan then needs to be created that addresses the learning needs and agreed outcomes for the child. Put the necessary support and provisions in place so that the child can do their best. Review their learning progress and adapt the plan as required.
The success of your teaching methods for pupils aged 5-16 with SEND will be measured on the Department for Education’s (DfE) performance attainment targets (P scales), that range from P1 to P8. The use of P scales in English, Maths and Science are statutory. In other subjects, the P scales can be used as guidelines to describe the range of performance that a pupil has achieved.
Qualifications, experience, and key skills required for SEND teaching jobs
The following are qualifications, experience, and skills needed, and some training courses you can undertake, to become a successful SEND Teacher.
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, Maths and Science.
- A relevant degree and to have gained your Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
- Previous in-school teaching experience.
- Fluent level of both spoken and written English.
- A sound knowledge of a variety of teaching methods appropriate for pupils with SEND.
- The ability to design adaptive lessons and projects.
- Experience with enabling children and young people with extra needs to access and thrive in education.
- The ability to use a computer and the main office software packages competently, such as Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.
Key personal skills:
To be a successful SEND Teacher you will need to be an organised and dedicated team player who is committed, flexible and adaptable. You will also need to inspire your pupils to learn by being engaging, calm, patient and positive.
Safeguarding Children with SEND training from the NSPCC is an introductory course for teaching staff who work with SEND children.
The EduCare Supporting Children with SEND in the Early Years course covers the legal obligations and inclusivity for children with SEND.
Special Educational Needs – Advanced delivered by Learndirect is ideal for those who want to develop a deeper understanding of SEND.
The Master for Education (mEd) SEND Programme from Real Training allows you to choose from a broad range of essential subjects, such as Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs, Enquiry-based SEND Practice, and Severe, Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities.
Exceptional SENDCOs, SEND Teachers and SEND TAs are vital in delivering this style of bespoke education. It takes someone with high levels of creativity, intuition, and patience to provide the adapted learning needed for a SEND child to reach their full educational potential.
To find out more about specialist and rewarding roles within SEND, read our interview with a SEND Teacher to understand their day-to-day duties and our SEND School Settings information to find out more about working in a specialist school.
Keep a lookout for the latest opportunities in your sector by regularly searching the job vacancies on our website:
You can stay up to date with our latest blogs here.
Earn up to £200 in vouchers just for recommending your fully qualified teaching friends to us. We can help find work for Teachers, Nursery Nurses, Cover Supervisors and Teaching Assistants; all you need to do is click here.