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Moving into SEN from secondary science

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by southeastlondon, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. Hi,

    I have worked as a secondary science teacher for 2 years now. I have taught pupils with various types of statements, helping them as well as teaching the rest of class. How can i work in the SEN department? What qualifications do i need? How is the salary of an SEN teacher calculated, do they have a different pay scale?

  2. Hi,

    I have worked as a secondary science teacher for 2 years now. I have taught pupils with various types of statements, helping them as well as teaching the rest of class. How can i work in the SEN department? What qualifications do i need? How is the salary of an SEN teacher calculated, do they have a different pay scale?

  3. At the risk of sounding like a pedant, do you mean SEN department or Special School?
  4. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    In the mid-1990s I moved from my school's MFL department into its SEN department. A vacancy had arisen following the retirement of one of the existing members of the SEN team. Although I didn't need an additional qualification to work in SEN, I chose to study part-time with the Open University for an Advanced Diploma in Special Needs in Education, which I obtained after two years. There isn't a different salary scale for SEN teachers in mainstream schools. I simply went through Threshold like the majority of teachers in other departments at my school.

    Although I've never regretted making the move into SEN, I'm glad I served my time as a subject teacher too. Nothing is ever wasted when it comes to teaching experience. The combination of MFL with SEN has proved invaluable to me over recent years, opening up plenty of opportunities for educational research, professional development and resource production. I've received many invitations to give presentations in agreeable venues (Hungary, Canada and Japan for example), to write articles and to deliver workshops.
  5. Dedros - thanks for the reply!

    I was also thinking of doing the open university course part time. How did your course help you? Do you need to be working in the SEN department inorder to complete the qualification? How easy is it for a subject teacher to move into SEN teaching?

  6. Guess you meant SEN department.
  7. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    The Open University course helped me a lot when getting to grips with the concepts and practicalities of diversity and inclusion in the classroom and in recognising how conventional teaching materials and approaches can sometimes impede access to learning for certain students. Whenever people claim that there's only one way of teaching a particular point, or defends a one-size-fits-all methodology, I've learnt to apply a problem-solving approach instead, starting with the child and experimenting with a range of solutions. Good SEN practice is based on multidisciplinary teamwork, not on whatever methodology happens to be in vogue in a particular curriculum subject.

    You could complete the Open University assignments using your experience of teaching science to students with SEN. There's a lot of good practice in SEN science teaching, particularly work done in making science textbooks more accessible to low attainers. I certainly drew on my day to day experience of teaching MFL to those with learning difficulties.

    To get into SEN teaching, a record of successful teaching with low-attaining students is key. You should demonstrate commitment to this section of the student population, a determination to challenge them while matching the pace of their lessons to their ability and needs. A sense of humour helps a lot, as does a willingness to listen. You may find yourself doing "catch-up" literacy and numeracy work with individuals and small groups. You will learn how to work as a member of a team, listening to and acting upon the observations of parents and learning support assistants and the advice of the educational psychologist and the speech and language therapist. It's very different from the life of a subject teacher, but it's also extremely fulfilling and I have never regretted my decision to change departments!
  8. Hi Dodros

    By any chance are you working in London? The problem i have is as a science teacher i knew the schemes of work to follow for a particular year group e.t.c How do you do this for SEN pupils? Whats the exact name of the course you completed?
  9. woops - found the name of the course....silly me
  10. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    I work in the North East.

    The Association for Science Education and ISSEN (http://www.issen.org.uk/) are really on the ball when it comes to science for SEN. A while ago I decided to create SEN bibliographies for each National Curriculum subject. The science one is on my website at


    with 545 references.

    It's difficult to summarise what you'd do about differentiating a science scheme of work to meet the needs of those with SEN, but it makes sense to determine what's essential for the course, then design tasks broken down into small steps, deliver subject matter in bite-size chunks, provide plenty of explanations, word rubrics on tasks simply and briefly, give students written copies of homework instructions, don't just rely on them copying from the board or remembering what you've told them. Students with SEN usually have organisation and memory problems as well as intellectual impairments. And that's just the ones with Moderate and Specific Learning Difficulties - there are also those with autistic spectrum disorders and hearing impairments as well as others with speech and language difficulties, visual and physical impairments, each requiring their needs met. Familiarising yourself with the learning profiles of every child with SEN can help with lesson planning, and do remember that they all have strengths as well as weaknesses. Hope this helps and hasn't put you off!
  11. Hi, I have just read your post regarding you move into SEN from mainstream. I have recently became the SENco-ordinator in Science and I am trying to develop a SOW that would be suitable for KS3 and possibly KS4 classes. We have the odd few pupils who come into our school on P-scales and the levels rise from there.
    If you have any lesson plans/SOW that you would be able to share this would be a fantastic starting point for me to work on.
    Thank you in anticipation ;-)

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