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As a parent/ carer of a child with SEND, dropping your child off at school each day and not knowing if they are getting the support they need can make you feel helpless. The Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) is the member of staff who can reassure you and work with you to arrange tailored support.

What is a SENCO?

A Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO for short) is a teacher that aims to help you and others understand what your child needs to make their learning easier. A SENCO helps to spot these needs and can put in place, or make referrals for, relevant support to help your child succeed.

A SENCO should always base their decisions and actions on the SEND Code of Practice.

In the UK, every school (and maintained nursery) must have a SENCO and every SENCO must be a qualified teacher. It is common for your SENCO to also be a class teacher or a headteacher, and SENCOs can be part time or full time.

What should a SENCO do?

Alongside other responsibilities, a SENCO is there to:

  • ensure that teachers, practitioners and staff members understand their own, and the school’s responsibilities, to meet the needs of children with SEND and ensure inclusive practise.
  • identify and monitor a pupil's needs and plan the SEN support to allow them to achieve their best. Make recommendations and help other staff members to deliver the support.
  • Help you throughout the Education, Health and Care Plan process - from requesting a needs assessment through to carrying out the annual reviews. They can support you with any other support plans and communications to the local authority too.
  • communicate regularly with you about your child’s progress and ensure you are involved in all decision making about your child.
  • signpost both yourselves and professionals to organisations and services outside of an educational setting that could support children with SEN.
  • Make referrals to services your child might need, including Educational Psychology, Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapy.
  • Listen to the pupil's views, feelings and wishes and consider these when planning their support.

How could a SENCO support you and your child?

Support from a SENCO comes in many different forms. They can:

  • listen and acknowledge your concerns and support you appropriately, and direct you to your local DSPL.
  • assess your child's needs and advise on the best methods of support for them, including things you could try at home.
  • refer your child for more specialist support.
  • make sure that SEN support and resources are provided in school, for example assistive technology such as an alternative keyboard.
  • Support your whole family with access arrangements if you require it. For example if you are deaf, they can arrange a BSL sign language interpreter for your meetings, or change the way they communicate with you, such as texting and emailing instead of phoning.
  • undertake further training if they require it to learn more about your child's specific SEN. For example, if they are supporting a deaf pupil, they may take Deaf Awareness Training to be able to support them effectively.
  • help you to prepare your child for their move to secondary school or college.
  • Attend SEND meetings to support you and your child
  • Work collaboratively with you and SEN Officers to find ways forward.

Working well with your SENCO

We asked our SEND online feedback group - a group of parents and young people who help us to improve the information on our website - to tell us about their own personal experiences of working with a SENCO and what advice they would give to help others maintain a good relationship and achieve the best results for your child.

They told us:


  • Don't be afraid to ask for meetings or help. Keep meetings and communication regular, even if you have to request this.
  • Pass on any positive feedback, not just the concerns you have. Your SENCO is there to support you and your child and passing along any appreciation helps to keep the relationship positive.
  • Keep everything written down, so you can refer back in meetings and keep track of what has been agreed and make sure actions are happening.
  • Research your child's needs as much as possible and the SEND Code of Practice too if you can. This could help you to make informed decisions about your child's learning.
  • Make suggestions of things that have worked well for your child at home. Your SENCO could apply these in school.
  • ask questions, be realistic about timescales and be clear about your expectations.
  • Have a look at your school's SEN information report on their website. It will tell you the best way to make contact with your SENCO and answer questions you might have about provision/support.
  • Finally, don't give up!

What to do if you're not happy with the support you're getting

As you know, it's best to try to solve things directly with your SENCO first - setting out your concerns and asking for their agreement to make improvements. If this doesn't work, you might want to then escalate your concern either to your head of year or headteacher.

At some schools, the headteacher is also the SENCO. If this is your situation, or if you have escalated your concerns to your headteacher and this hasn't worked, you could then write to your schools lead Governor for SEN. Every school has one, and you can find out on your school's website how to contact them.

Visit SENDIASS' website

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