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Being a Head and a SENCO

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by emkay74, May 25, 2019.

  1. emkay74

    emkay74 New commenter

    I'm a SENCO on SLT and loving the role. However, I've just been asked to step up to the Head's role and one of the very many questions that I am struggling with while I consider my options is, how can I be SENCO and Head at the same time? Is anyone else doing both? What happens if there are issues around possible exclusion? Or is this an amazing opportunity to lead a school with a real focus on inclusion and SEND? I'd really like to hear from anyone else that is doing both roles about the conflicts / challenges / opportunities they have faced.
  2. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    As a retired special educational needs teacher, I've been asked in recent years by two different sets of parents for advice about the less than satisfactory provision that their children with SEN were receiving in their respective schools. In both instances, the Head was also the school SENCO. It was clear to me that there was a real conflict of interest when it came to the Head's need to plan and budget from a whole-school perspective and the SENCO's duty to ensure that individual children received what was their statutory due in the way of support. The Head's role seemed to take precedence to the individual student's disadvantage. Of course, I am not saying that the same outcome is inevitable in the case of anybody combining the role of Head and SENCO, but the potential is there. And I would have thought that both roles are extremely time-consuming and therefore well nigh impossible to combine effectively.
    minnie me likes this.
  3. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    No - not an option. You run the risk of underperforming in both roles which would be insupportable for the setting ie the children. I am shocked that you feel this promotion gives you the opportunity to lead with a ‘real focus on inclusion and SEND ‘ ?? .... so it’s not happening already then ? with you as the member of staff responsible for provision ?
    Dodros likes this.
  4. emkay74

    emkay74 New commenter

    Thank you both - I am struggling to identify what I feel beyond shock, to be honest. It's not a promotion I have sought at all and it has come up very suddenly. I think that the current set up with the two roles being separate works well and inclusion & SEND is a strength - I would just want it to continue being so. I fear, as you suggest, that combining the roles will lead to conflicts however well intentioned I might be and I want to hear from people that either already do both or who have seen both being done. In Dodros' case, she saw this being done in a way that didn't pupils' needs. But I wanted to be balanced in my original question and perhaps there would be positives to the combination, despite my doubts? I don't, honestly, feel this is the case but I haven't lived this experience so am looking to others who have to share their views.
  5. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I honestly think you are best prioritising succession planning ? Is there anyone on the staff who can rise to the challenge ? Anyone with the ‘ right ‘ qualities to lead and manage provision ? If you are Head at least the nominated colleague will know that the inclusion ethos and culture of the school will be driven / supported at the highest level, which to my mind is priceless ?
  6. emkay74

    emkay74 New commenter

    I think that succession planning is spot on and something I was discussing just last week before I even knew any of this was happening. It's just not an immediate fix for now. We have a very young staff who are just finding their feet as class teachers with those that have a more years' experience already in the roles that they want in terms of subject / phase leadership. There are some teachers in the school who have fantastic practice and mindset and could develop into the SENCO role if they want to, but not yet - something for 2-3 years time. One thing I have been offered is a secondment of a neighbouring school's SENCO, who I really rate, for 1 day per week. I think this was offered with support in managing workload in mind but she would also be a 'critical friend', I'm sure. Even so... it all feels less than ideal.

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