What is a SENCO?
SENCO stands for Special Educational Needs Coordinator and the title carries with it many important duties. They are a designated professional within an Early Years setting who will support not only those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and but also for the adults caring for them. The SENCO will provide guidance for the parents and Keyworkers looking after the children with SEND and will help in any appropriate way that they can.
The role usually falls to the setting Deputy or Manager but can also go to another suitable practitioner, sometimes a Room Leader with adequate experience. The role can only be given to a qualified practitioner who prepares for the role by attending further training and gaining a certificate. The qualification does not expire; however it is good practice to attend regular refresher courses to remain up to date with the latest regulations and policies.
It is a legal requirement for all nurseries and schools to have an employee that holds the position of SENCO. They must follow the SEND Code of Practice, which applies to children and young people with SEND aged from 0-25 years old.
While all practitioners should have at least a basic understanding of how to work with children who have SEND, it is important to have one clear leader in the subject, so employees know who to turn to should they have a concern or enquiry. The name of the SENCO should not only be stated in company policies but should also be visually displayed somewhere within the premises.
The SENCO will cascade information down to other staff members regarding the best methods of how to work with SEND, but they should also relay relevant theories behind these strategies to enable staff to develop a solid understanding of the techniques they use. Different needs and disabilities will require various approaches, so for the field of SEND, ‘one size fits all’ does not apply.
Due to the complex nature and variety of each circumstance, outside help from local agencies will usually be involved. It is down to the SENCO to communicate effectively with these agencies, ensuring referrals are made to the right people and that children’s target plans are reviewed regularly. There should be a SEND register in every setting and the SENCO will keep this up to date and organise any relevant paperwork accordingly.
In some cases, an earlier intervention can greatly improve the outcomes for a child, giving them the tools they need, when they need them, enhancing their development. It is down to the SENCO to make sure referrals are not only made on time, but are also followed up so they don’ t fall under the radar.
Some parents are aware their children have SEND, but for others it can be an unnerving situation to find themselves. These unsuspecting parents will most likely require additional advice and support, which is where the SENCO comes in. They will offer reassurance to weary parents and give them as much information as they can, letting them know their child will receive all the assistance they need.
Accepting the role of SENCO is no small task and it is crucial that the right person takes the job. Many people will rely on them for essential information and counsel time and time again, making them one of the most indispensable people in any Early Years setting.