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Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO)

Please be aware that this section contains information prepared in 2009 and may now be out of date. Some links may no longer work. We are reviewing this section.

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What is a SENCO?
A special educational needs coordinator (SENCO for short) is a teacher who is responsible for special educational needs at school. All schools have a SENCO and they work with other teachers and with parents to make sure that pupils with special educational needs get the right support and help they need at school.

All mainstream schools (schools funded by the government) must appoint a designated teacher as the SENCO. They have to make sure that the school’s policy on special educational needs is carried out effectively by all staff. If you have special educational needs, the SENCO at your school will arrange and coordinate help for you. They will also keep your parents, teachers and other professionals such as educational psychologists and speech and language therapists up to date about your progress.

You are considered to have SEN if you have a learning difficulty or disability that makes it harder for you to learn than other pupils of your age. If you have special educational needs, you may need extra help with a range of things at school, for example:

  • schoolwork
  • reading, writing, number work or understanding information
  • expressing yourself or understanding what others are saying to you
  • making friends or talking to adults
  • behaving properly in school
  • organising yourself
  • some kind of sensory or physical need which may affect you in school, for example, a dislike of certain textures or noises

What does a SENCO do?
If you have special educational needs (and many children and young people on the autism spectrum do) and you are struggling with your work at school, the SENCO at your school will be asked to help.

A SENCO’s job is to:

  • Work with you to help with your learning 
  • make sure your parents or carers know about your special educational needs and keep them up to date with your progress
  • help other teachers and staff working with you at school
  • make sure that information about your needs is collected and kept up-to-date

All children and young people with special educational needs (SEN for short) must get the right kind of help and support to make sure they are able to learn properly at school. Many children and young people on the autism spectrum have special educational needs and so SENCOs should know about autism and Asperger syndrome as part of their job.

In a small school, the head teacher or deputy head teacher may take on the role of SENCO.  In larger schools there may be a SEN coordinating team (with more than one SENCO) which may include teaching assistants.

If you have special educational needs you should know who the SENCO is at your school. If you do not know who the SENCO is, or if you think you might have special educational needs which are not already known about, please talk to one of your teachers or your parents / carers as soon as possible.

What happens when you leave school?
When you leave school to attend college or University, or start a job, there will not be a SENCO to coordinate your support. However, there are other ways to make sure you get the right kind of support to help you continue to learn and achieve. Visit the Skill website (link given below) for more information about this.

We have included some links below to more information about special educational needs which you might find useful.

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Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities - Support in Education Information about the kind of help and support available to you in school and when you leave school to attend college or University.

Getting extra help at school Information from the National Autistic Society about getting extra help for children and young people with SEN at school. Again, these pages are aimed at parents, but you may find them useful.

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Links


Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities A website dedicated to helping and advising students with disabilities with a whole range of topics and issues.

SEN: A Guide for Parents and Carers This guide is written for parents and carers but you might find some of the information useful too.

SEN: Removing Barriers to Achievement Information about special educational needs and disabilities. The pages are designed for parents and carers but you may also find the information useful.

SEN: Identification and Assessment Information about the identification and assessment of SEN and the types of support offered to pupils with SEN.

SEN Code of Practice Information from the Government for teachers and all educational professionals about their duties for ensuring all pupils with SEN are given the appropriate help and support.

Removing Barriers to Achievement: the Government's Strategy for SEN Link to the National Strategies website to download a copy of the Government’s strategy for improving SEN provision in schools.

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Case studies


Robyn Steward - age 21 with Asperger syndrome Read about Robyn’s experiences of school, college and applying for University.

Make School Make Sense for Me First hand accounts from children and young people on the autism spectrum about their experiences of school.

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