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Special educational needs coordinators (SENCO)

Introduction to SENCO

Governing bodies of maintained mainstream schools and the proprietors of mainstream academy schools (including free schools) must ensure that there is a qualified teacher designated as special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) for the school.

The SENCO must be a qualified teacher working at the school. A newly appointed SENCO must be a qualified teacher and, where they have not previously been the SENCO at that or any other relevant school for a total period of more than twelve months, must achieve a National Award in Special Educational Needs Co-ordination within three years of appointment.

The SENCO has an important role to play with the headteacher and governing body. They determine the strategic development of special education needs (SEN) policy and provision in the school. They will be most effective if part of the school leadership team.

The SENCO has day-to-day responsibility for:

  • SEN policy operation
  • co-ordinating specific provision to support individual pupils with SEN (including those who have EHC plans)

Key responsibilities

  • overseeing the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEN policy
  • coordinating provision for children with SEN
  • liaising with the relevant designated teacher where a looked after pupil has SEN
  • advising on the graduated approach to providing SEN support
  • advising on the deployment of the school’s delegated budget and other resources to meet pupils’ needs effectively
  • liaising with parents of pupils with SEN
  • liaising with early years providers, other schools, educational psychologists, health and social care professionals, and independent or voluntary bodies
  • being a key point of contact with external agencies, especially the local authority and its support services
  • liaising with potential next providers of education to ensure a pupil and their parents are informed about options and a smooth transition is planned
  • working with the headteacher and school governors to ensure that the school meets its responsibilities under the Equality Act (2010) with regard to reasonable adjustments and access arrangements
  • ensuring that the school keeps the records of all pupils with SEN up to date.

SENCO handbook

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