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Do I have a chance at getting an interview for SENCo?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by Sencho1975, Jun 4, 2020.

  1. Sencho1975

    Sencho1975 New commenter

    Hi all,

    I'm an experienced teacher who has been a full-time mum for the last five years. Both my children will be in full-time school this September (co-vid issues aside). I have done the odd supply day at my old school within the last five years but not much.

    I have over 10 years of classroom primary school teaching experience in the UK across two different state schools (small and large). I was a key stage leader, acting assistant headteacher, assessment manager, curriculum leader, a senior person in charge and literacy coordinator. I also have experience teaching English as a foreign language abroad.

    I have seen a job vacancy for a SENCo role at an independent private school. I always wanted to get into SEN education. I have taught many children with SEN and because I was Assessment Manager I have worked very closely with SENCos over the years. I've been closely involved in whole school tracking of children with SEN. I've attended many annual review meetings and so on. I also used to work during the school holidays for the local council supporting and supervising SEN children access holiday clubs and activities.

    However, I have never been a SENCo within a primary school setting. I am up to date with SEN national policies and guidance etc.

    The vacancy doesn't show a job specification, only a job description. The role is not classroom-based. I wouldn't have a class of my own.

    Do you think it is worth me sending in an application? Is it likely to be a highly competitive vacancy? Or will they laugh me out of the building because I've been out of education for five years? I do have excellent references.

    Thank you in advance.
  2. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Seriously if I were a Head in any setting I would want someone with a proven track record of having led and managed staff in addressing the needs of challenged and challenging students who crucially will be able to demonstrate how their vision for inclusion has impacted successfully on the performances of all students particularly those with SEND..... however I suspect that the role you are considering is far more ‘ narrow ‘ and perhaps even ‘ specialist ‘ in the ( much ) wider context of the word.

    I have no have experience of the private sector ( except in a consultancy role in Secondary on AFL ) but yes it does operate differently and thus may be to your advantage .

    You give a list of your roles ( not enough in itself ) but should be able to demonstrate I think to have some CPD theory / evidence of extended training on which to base your practice and some ‘ street cred ‘ in having had significant success in improving outcomes for SEND students ..... also I think any SENCO worth their salt should be expected to teach and model the practice on which their policy is based.

    Perhaps this school is looking for an administrator as much as a SEND person? Put yourself in the position of a prospective Head - being familiar with the Code Of Practice ( to which you should pay due regard ) is not the same as strategically managing and leading provision ..... I also think that after 5 years out you may need to be less ambitious. Sorry if this sounds harsh ...

    Perhaps post this too in the Independent forum ?
  3. Sencho1975

    Sencho1975 New commenter

    Hi minne me - thank you for the honest response. It doesn't sound harsh at all. I wanted opinions of all sorts.

    I was hoping that as I have managed and lead provision in many other key areas in a school setting, and have on the ground experience of teaching children with a wide range of SEN, that those skills would be transferrable.

    What I do find interesting is that in schools I have worked in, the SENCo role is avoided by many. And in my experience, those who take it up have zero experience before they do take it up.

    In terms of the 5 years out - there's nothing I can do about that but be super motivated.

    I guess I won't find out unless I apply!

    Thanks for the feedback.
  4. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Agree integrity, motivation and transferable skills all essential . I take your point re unattractive nature of the job and few takers. I know too, colleagues are promoted to the post without the necessary experience / skills but this does not make it right / acceptable . I would argue that inevitably they disadvantage the students / staff for whom they are responsible .. anyway let us know how things go
  5. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    I think the issue for a Head will be the 5 years and just coming back. SENCO is a role which doesn't give time to get 'spun up', they will want someone to hit the ground running. Had you been a SENCO before your time out I would see no issue at all, but from a Head's perspective I can see them being worried that someone is coming back and also has no prior experience of the role. It doesn't mean it's impossible, but I would probably advise returning to school for a year or two first.
    MarieAnn18 and minnie me like this.
  6. Nealswife

    Nealswife Occasional commenter

    Hi. Part of your role will be to assess, plan and deliver for SEND pupils - but even before that, you need to know, what provision they already have in place. Research, as depending on what sort of SEND pupils you have to deal with, you may be able to use outside help too.

    Do they use some package to asses, record and update data? Look at ProvisionMaps as a starter. Also, how many EHCP pupils they have as that will meant you need to know about Reviews, entitlement, managing LSAs and supporting new EHCP applications. These can be long and drawn out - not always successful - so you

    In a Primary school, you may get more as teachers start pointing out the SEND pupils, or those who do not make progress in line with peers.

    Look at Dyslexia, reading and accelerating reading programmes. Also, in Primary, you will encounter pupils with Motor Skill challenges - you could refer to your past experience to exemplify - they may ask for examples of when you did something along those lines to help pupils.

    Have you managed any INSET - even to small groups? What about briefing staff? Working with parents and the LEA? There should be training on offer to help you - including the NASENCO - if you can access this with your commitments - useful for the long term prospects. Make sure you train and ask at the interview - they may want you to do it - you could preempt them by looking a local providers for training?

    I am sure you will have come across some of these points yourself, but if you are able to speak to other SENCos, speak to friends etc - see what they do - how the plan their department etc.? You will also have to manage resources - again, what do they have that you can add to, budgets permitting?

    For some pupils, Primary is where SEND gets noticed - and you will have to manage this, where it may be the first time that a child will be noticed for having SEN. In Secondary, pupils will either have had some help with SEND or they have been missed out somewhere in the system. At higher academic levels though, you have to familiarize yourself with many subjects for exams - that can be tricky. There are loads of strategies and resources for SEND in primary phase.

    You need good LSAs, training and managing them, plus team work with other staff - teachers, managers, LEA and Governors - don't for get the SEND Governors for help too. Communication and interpersonal skills to deal with awkward situations, problems and disappointments. That can be draining but exciting too.

    Not sure if EAL will be an area for you to cover? That's another challenge - SEND/EAL.
    Behaviour and PP aspects that impact on learning opportunities - Pre school, Reception etc.

    Common SEND in mainstream - check out ASD, ADHD, Downs, etc...lots of different needs arise.

    Gifted and Talented also come under the Inclusion remit in some schools - Ofsted will look at that provision.

    Best of luck - it's great you want to do this and it's quite fulfilling, with results if it all goes according to plan. Hope it works out. :)

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