What is SEN teaching?
SEN stands for special educational needs. An SEN teaching role is one where teachers specialise in helping to support pupils with special educational needs and disabilities to ensure they get the most out of their learning and enjoy their time at school. You may work in a primary or secondary school in a class of mixed abilities, in a school designed for special needs pupils only, or in a pupil referral unit.
What responsibilities does an SEN teacher have?
A day in the life of an SEN teacher is varied, and there are several duties and roles they will be expected to take on. Some of the typical tasks of an SEN teacher include:
- Lesson planning and preparation of teaching materials
- Teaching whole class lessons, working in small groups, or working one on one to support individuals
- Developing nurturing relationships with SEN pupils to encourage independence, motivation, and confidence
- Behavioural management
- Liaising with fellow teachers, caregivers, and parents and establishing strong relationships with them to help provide the best care and support to the pupil
- Developing strategies and techniques based on individual preferences and needs
- Learning best practices and staying abreast of new information, guidance, and developments around SEN teaching
You may also be required to:
Work with specialist teaching services, communicate any issues to medical staff, feedback, or work alongside therapists and psychologists Attend meetings and take part in training workshops Train other staff members on how best to work with pupils with special educational needs. Organise and attend special trips or events (either inside or outside of school)
What is the career path of an SEN teacher?
There are plenty of opportunities for SEN teachers to progress in their careers. One of the most popular routes is to become a special needs coordinator (SENCO). A SENCO is responsible for creating and implementing a school-wide SEN strategy.
There are also various managerial roles available to SEN teachers, such as becoming a head of department, a key stage coordinator, or even progressing to the position of deputy head or headteacher. It is also possible to move out of the teaching environment altogether and find a position at a local authority as a special needs assessment officer.
Private tuition opportunities are also available.
Skills and Knowledge of SEN teachers
You can get into SEN teaching by undertaking a university course or apprenticeship. Some schools offer positions to unqualified teachers and will provide on-the-job training so you can learn as you work. Having some teaching knowledge and experience is beneficial. SEN teaching can be both emotionally and physically demanding, so possessing sensitivity, open-mindedness, flexibility, positivity, excellent communication skills, and a willingness to learn will also help ensure that you succeed in this role.