Working with learners with SEND can be one of the most rewarding and interesting career choices in education. It is so important to make teaching accessible for those who may have additional barriers to learning, and inclusion is key. SEND workers make up an invaluable part of every school workforce and their role in the classroom is vital.
What does SEND mean?
The term SEND is used to describe all learners who have special educational needs and disabilities, meaning that they are not always able to access the curriculum in the same ways as other children in the class. Learners with SEND can often face challenges, both academically and socially, which can affect their ability to learn. The most common of these are dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD) and social emotional and mental health needs (SEMH). Children with these needs may require additional support in school to access the learning in the classroom, and some may benefit from alternative educational provision. All children are different, and finding the best way to allow students to thrive is essential.
How can SEND affect children?
Having SEND can mean that pupils have difficulties socially, emotionally, or academically. They may struggle to form friendships, maintain concentration, or regulate their emotions. Learners with SEND may also struggle to understand new concepts or ideas, find reading and writing difficult, or have physical difficulties. Again, each individual child will come with their own strengths and challenges.
What support might SEND pupils require?
Once a child has been diagnosed with having special educational needs or disabilities, they may be entitled to support at school and could be provided with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) if their needs are more complex. This will outline specific provisions and targets for the child based on input from the school and parents/carers.
What different SEND roles are there?
Every school will have a SENDCo, who will be responsible for monitoring and addressing the needs of SEND students and working with other SEND staff to allow children to reach their full potential.
Schools employ SEND teaching assistants (or learning support assistants) to work specifically with SEND pupils, on a one-to-one basis or in a group, depending on the needs of each child. Some SEND pupils may be considered ‘High Needs’, meaning they will most probably always have a SEND teaching assistant on a one-to-one basis so that they can fully access all aspects of school life.
Behaviour mentors (or pastoral workers) are sometimes found in schools to work with pupils who have SEMH needs. They will specialise in working with pupils with behavioural or emotional issues, and they may run group sessions or support individual children.
Intervention teachers may be employed to deliver additional sessions to pupils who have learning difficulties or disabilities. These are often small group ‘catch-up’ sessions in Maths and English, to allow children to gain a better understanding of topics already covered in class.
There are also specialist schools that cater specifically to SEND pupils, where SEND teachers will be employed, as well as various support staff.
How do I find SEND jobs?
If you are thinking of starting your career in SEND education, take a look at current SEND vacancies available on our jobs board.
About the author
After graduating with a BA in Communications from Bournemouth University, Emma worked in public relations and marketing before deciding to undertake a PGCE at Kingston University and begin her journey as a primary school teacher. Emma taught for 15 years in schools around London and Surrey, in a variety of roles including lead practitioner and assistant headteacher. Emma now works for Eteach as Education Partnerships Coordinator, where she can share her knowledge of the education sector and support those beginning their teaching career.