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Applying for SENCO - no experience please help!

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by beccy9876, Feb 14, 2009.

  1. I thought I'd add this rider to the fantastic fairytale ending outlined above. As from Septemberthe utter nonsense whereby a SENCo at a primary school must be a teacher. Would that schools were forced to be as sensible about hiring unqualified staff to fill key posts such as Head of Year.
    Personally, I worked as:
    a. a volunteer at two special schools run by a charitable org, for £6k a year, in the middle of the last recession as there were no tyeaching vacancies there at the time
    b. an LST for an inner London council for a few years, where full Ofsted inspections were routine events
    c. a middle manager at two secondary schools where funding was a real issue, yet the levels of SEN were well beyond average
    I mention this as despite my references, lack of a police record and excellent CPD history, I can't buy an interview as I am as far from the core demographic within my field as it is possible to be. Perhaps I should have got that British passport at the last time of asking and made more play of my being the alumnus of a fee paying RC boarding school, albeit one within the state sector.
     
  2. Well done beccy9876 - so when do you start!!!
    BB
     
  3. Well done beccy and purplepixie! I've also just landed myself the SENCO role, with no official training either! Really excited, but also extremely scared now as the enormity of the role is kicking in!! Are you guys going to be sent on any training? My school wants to send me on something this summer, but I'm struggling to find something. Do you know of anything, or where to look? Would be nice to hear from fellow new sencos!
     
  4. I sincerely hope you do find some training, because as a parent of a SEN child, having had to deal with one particular SENCo who had absolutely no knowledge of SEN or the system, you may find yourself battling a lot of highly irate and anxious parents and troubled kids if you don't know what you are doing (unless you regard the role as one of protecting the school against the expense and bother these "different" children cause (which I'm sure you don't) as I believe the above mentioned SENCo and their HT do).
     
  5. We all have to learn sometime and I am sure the new SENCOs will be learning like mad for the first few years. My stock phrase for the first few years was "I will get back to you on that". And I always did - and still do if I cant answer a Parents query!

    Well done new SENCOs - I have been doing it since 1995 so it cant be that bad (mind you am onto my 3rd School but that was due to moving etc!!!)

    BB
     
  6. imho SENCos should have had SENCo training of a recognised national standard or be in training before getting the post - in just the same way HTs have to now. That would ensure that only those who really want to become SENCos apply, and would ensure they are at least partially up to speed before they start. A casual approach of picking it up on the job with time, which is so often employed, is not fair to the kids or their parents. In addition there should be minimum (realistic) requirements laid down for the amount of time allocated to SENCos for their duties, which is properly remunerated, so that all schools have to take the role seriously. SENCos should be (and should be recognised as) experts in SEN, not just someone who spends an hour a week (officially) doing the job (though in practise probably doing more) so that the school can tick the SEN box.
    There are a lot of good SENCos out there who are very knowledgeable and really care, but there are also far too many who haven't a clue.
     
  7. maybe so Bertha, but would you put up with that if we were talking about doctors, nurses, even teachers? Whether the SENCo is knowledgeable enough can make the difference between a child having their needs met and being a happy achieving individual, or having their needs neglected, which at best means they probably underachieve, or at worst could mean they end up with increasingly worsened problems or out of school. Isn't that important enough for us to expect a certain minimum standard of SENCo and SEN support in schools? I don't think the casual approach of the past to SEN, where schools seem to do as little or much as they like to support kids, is good enough personally. In fact, I'd increase training on SEN considerably for all teachers, because a good SENCo can still find they are knocking their head against a brick wall if the teachers and SLT have little knowledge of SEN. No end of damage can be done to kids with SEN through ignorance (however well intentioned the staff may be).
     
  8. But surely you must realise that SENCOs have to come from somewhere? Teachers like myself who have vast class experience with SEN and have an interest in taking it further?
    You can't gain some knowledge unless you're doing the job!
    To put your mind at rest a little - I hope - the government are currently consulting on making all new SENCOs (and those who've been in post for less than a year in Sept) take a National award for SENCOs to ensure they have the knowledge they need!
     
  9. I seem to have created a huge debate here. My school is a private school and very different to most state schools, but I'm actually taking the role on full time, 5 days a week, with no class of my own. Hence I will be devoting ALL my time to coordinating the support and carrying out interventions myself. I can assure you that any gaps I may have from actual experience of this particular role I will make up for by dedicating myself to learn and find out more...The children's needs are my complete concern and I will ensure they are met in whichever way necessary. That's why I asked if anyone could recommend some training or give some useful tips to help me build on my current knowledge. It seems my post was taken in a rather negative way. It would be more helpful to receive supportive and constructive comments, rather than crushing down those of us that have just been given the jobs. Thanks
     
    studentmum2 likes this.
  10. good for you gabri - go for it! I'm sure you will be fantastic as you have a passion for sen that will shine through.
    In my LEA there is training called 'new senco training' that runs every term all year round specifically for sencos new to the role.
    obviously all sencos start somewhere - usually in a non-senco role!
    good luck gabri.

     
  11. Only by one.

    I remember getting my first job as SENCO in 1995 and then spending that summer reading the Code of Practice.
    I appreciate this frustration of a Parent - I have one parent who thinks I am useless and rings the SEN dept to tell them that but that is because I wont give her child my full 1:1 attention. But we all have to learn somewhere - not every School is going to have an experienced SENCO, experienced Teachers, experienced Head and I hope that gabri gets the support she needs.
    PM me or keep posting with your queries - from one old SENCO to a new one.

    BB
     
  12. Sorry 2nd quote not from gabri but from an earlier post by saw16 - my SENCO-ing skills are better than my ICT ones!
     
  13. Yes, good luck from me too, gabri. Your job spec sounds a bit like mine, actually. I'm starting a senco role in September in an independent school which will span KS2 - sixth form, and will include some EAL teaching. And although I'm coming to the post with a background of specialist SpLD teaching and assessing in the same school, I haven't got as many years of mainstream classroom teaching that you have - so my worries are not so much how to deal with learning difficulties and 'syndromes', rather the children with behavioural issues.
    Back to your question about assessments: we use CoPS for all our Year 3s, and are thinking of introducing the Lucid Rapid tests for Year 7s. The Year 3s are tested individually by me - time consuming, but we've found them very revealing as to the learning styles of the children, plus those who may have problems with visual or auditory memory - which I then investigate further for SpLDs. The Year 7s will have to be screened en masse, which I have reservations about, but we'll try it as an experiment, and see if it adds any useful information to the other info we have such as SATs, MidYis etc.
     
  14. Thanks for the support! My school actually finishes at the end of June, so I will be spending most of July reading up on things and attending training, once I find something suitable!, as well as shadowing a couple of SENCOs in schools from my LEA to see their interventions, etc.
    Nijinski, thanks for the useful info about your testing. Where can I get hold of them? We actually only do screening in year 2 for dyslexia, the rest is teacher assessment, but I'd like to bring in some more things, where I can be observing and assessing children myself. I like the idea of the individual testing..can you give me some more info about that? Basically, I can carry this role forward however I see it best, given that the paperwork is also down to my own judgement. I really want to be getting my hands on actually supporting the children as much as possible and team-teaching or supporting in class more too, as I think this will be effective. Early identification is really what I want to work on in my school. At present, the systems are a little slim. Basic Bertha, I'd also really like any of your input on this too, maybe you could message me some useful information?
    I really appreciate it!
     
  15. Yes, of course, and it is great that there are people like you who want to use that experience, no doubt to good effect.
    And of course this is correct too, but that knowledge and experience should supplement dedicated SENCo training, and not be the only way the SENCo gains their knowledge.
    I am aware of this, and the fact that the TDA are putting together compulsary SEN training modules for ITT (so that student teachers get more than the current (average) half a day on SEN in their courses).
    I am not trying to spoil your party here - it's great that there are good teachers care enough to want to be SENCos (and I applaud those who do so and seek out training - keep up the good work because school's need you), but there is an incredible amount of ignorance amongst the profession about SEN, and it simply isn't good enough to just pick up knowledge on the job. If you were offered treatment by a trainee psychiatrist, unsupervised by anyone qualified to do the job, would you be happy about it? If your GP gave you a diagnosis, and then you found out that they had no training in that area of medicine, how would you feel? What a SENCo does, the interventions they put in place, how they instruct the staff to deal with the child, and how promptly they do it, can have a huge impact on a child. I'm not trying to patronise anyone here, just get over some sense of just how damaging the incorrect treatment of children with SEN can be. If you had spent the last 4 years watching your child's mental health destroyed, battled the current SEN system and the incredible amount of ignorance there is with respect to SEN, seen well meaning (as well as not so well meaning) teachers do completely the wrong thing when dealing with your child, then you would probably be as passionate as I am about the need for proper SEN training for all teachers, not least SENCos. I don't think asking for those who have the power to make or break to have a little training is that much to ask for really - and believe me - you do have that power as classroom teachers, and as SENCos. You can be the difference between a vulnerable child being happy, confident and achieving, and them falling apart. If I get a bit mad about the casual approach - then I do have a very good reason - I live with the damage that can be done through ignorance of the needs of those with SEN in the form of my daughter.
    Don't get me wrong - I am pleased that you all want to be SENCos - but I'd be even happier about it once you are all properly trained. [​IMG]
     
  16. At the risk of belabouring a patronising metaphor, it is important that the farmer who wants a good quality milk supply should not:
    a. milk a cat instead of a cow
    b. scrimp on feeding and watering the cow
    c. waste money on a new milking machine when the old one is still fit for purpose
    d. pay too much heed to the advice from agricultural advisers, many of whom are failed farmers
    e. defer excessively to the ministry of agriculture, as many of them wouldn't know a farm if they stepped in it
    Now, with regard to what the previous person has said, I can only sympathise. This is not to say that I believe that expensive postgrad courses are necessary in all cases. Why is it proving impossible to deploy suitably experienced and qualified advisors to larger networks as a priority. Could it be that the priority, in a storm, is to batten down the hatches, thus leaving the extraneous baggage to the mercy of the elements?
    In conclusion, I promise to mix my drinks as freely as my metaphors after i get back tomorrow ebvening from a conference for serving or aspiring SENCos. What is also clear to me, after eight years of service in mainstream schools in London is that the rate of attrition among SENCos is very high indeed. I sincerely hope that this fact is kept in mind by irrate parents and by the swill-soused swine that dictate policy to my profession (eg M gove, Shadow Education secretary, claimed £500 for a one night stay in a hotel, which would almost have sent three teachers to the aforementioned conference, yet the cost of attending such courses is neither refundable nor tax deductible).
     
  17. Gabri, the CoPS test I mentioned is from Lucid:
    http://www.lucid-research.com/
    They have lots of different computer screening tests. We use the version for 4-8 year olds, with our Year 3s. It might be something for you to look at to supplement your screening of Year 2s, or even younger, although the interpretation of results could be tricky as you have so many EAL speakers. There are lots of other tests I use, according to individual need, although some of them I wouldn't feel competent to use without my training in SpLD (2 year postgrad diploma in dyslexia and literacy).
    Can I ask what you do to support your EAL children, particularly the older one?
    If you'd like to PM me (don't know how you do this) I'd be happy to share more ideas?

     
  18. We're told that participation is voluntary, but that's a laugh. No mention is made of the arrangements, other than the suggestion that up to ten days cover should be available and the focus should be on research relevant to the requirements of the individual practitioner's work place.
    Personally, I fail to see why:
    a. Deputy SENCos aren't encouraged to acquire the qualification, as they could conceiveably manage the task- as a means of becoming a SENCo
    b. the ludicrously fiddly academic requirement of properly dressed research can't be diluted, thus giving the pressure on SENCos on the natural course of events, regardless of category.
    As ever, the newspeak verbiage from those implementing the system sits badly with those already put to the pin of their collar to complete the job. I predict therefore that this requirement will see SENCo posts left vacant or filled by blue-blood paper tigers whose capacity and commitment may not be the equal of those who have kept the system ticking over in the lean years.
     
  19. You can tell that I have been associated with mainstream SEN for too long as I'm begonning to confuse 'giving' with 'taking'.
     
  20. I am a SENCo for an Education Other Than at School (EOTAS) service. I have been very fortunate that my employers paid for me to do the OCR Level 5 and Level 7 certificates in Teaching and assessing students with specific learning difficulties. These are excellent courses which really prepared me for the role I was developing within the service. I did it at evening classes and used students within my service for my short teaching practices. It really gives you a detailed insight into many aspects of SENCo work and helping students with real difficulties.
    If you are offered the chance to train take it with both hands - the support of others on the course will also be good as a sounding board when you encounter problems.
     

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