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What is a SENCO?

SENCOs, who must be a qualified teacher in mainstream schools, oversee the strategic development of SEN policy and provision and as such is advised to form part of the leadership team. In addition, they ensure the implementation of the SEN policy on a day-to-day basis.

They are a key point of contact for colleagues and can offer support and advice for the identification of needs and suitable provision to meet those needs. Through provision management they will maintain an overview of the progress of pupils with SEND and will seek to develop practice to ensure the effectiveness of interventions and support.

Female teacher providing teaching support for young male pupil - primary
teacher with children drawing pictures

Appointing a SENCO

All state-funded mainstream schools in England, including academies, free schools, university technical colleges and maintained nurseries are required to employ a teacher with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in a Special Educational Co-ordinator (SENCO) role. 

It may be appropriate for a number of small primary schools to share a SENCO who is employed to work across the individual schools. Where a shared approach is taken the SENCO:

  • should not normally have a significant class teaching commitment
  • should not be the headteacher at one of the schools

Schools should regularly review the effectiveness of such a shared SENCO to ensure that the approach is having a positive impact on the quality of SEN provision and progress of pupils with SEN in all of the schools involved in the arrangement.


Most SENCos are required to undertake mandatory training (the National Award for SEN Coordination).

Where a person becomes the SENCO at a relevant school after 1st September 2009, and has not previously been the SENCO at that or any other relevant school for a total period of more than twelve months, the appropriate authority (governing body or proprietor) of the school must ensure that, if the person is the SENCO at the school at any time after the third anniversary of the date on which that person becomes a SENCO, that person holds the qualification. 

In practice this means that all ‘new to role’ SENCOs must achieve a National Award in Special Educational Needs Co-ordination within three years of appointment.SENCo training remains mandatory within the new funding arrangements.

The NASENCo Provider Group was formed in September 2014 with the support of nasen. The providers meet on a voluntary basis twice a year, with a commitment to continue working together to preserve the quality of NASENCo training offered to SENCos in a free market.

nasen is committed to supporting quality NASENCo training and preserving the integrity of the award. As a result, we have agreed that Leading Learning for SEND Community Interest Company (LLSENDCiC) are the preferred organisation to quality assure NASENCo courses.