Special educational needs teacher

Special educational needs teachers work with children and young people who need extra support.

What does a special educational needs teacher do?

Special educational needs (SEN) teachers help young people who need extra support with their learning and will often work with children who have:

  • mild to moderate learning difficulties
  • specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia
  • physical disabilities
  • hearing or visual impairment
  • emotional or behavioural problems

Typically, this role will:

  • teach national curriculum subjects
  • help pupils to develop their self-confidence, independence and abilities
  • prepare lessons and teaching materials
  • mark and assess work
  • work with other professionals, such as medical staff, speech and language therapists and educational psychologists
  • speak to parents and carers about their children's progress
  • attend meetings and training workshops
  • organise outings, social activities and sporting events

A SEN teacher can work in a mixed class, a special class in a mainstream school, or in a special school. They can teach individual pupils or work in small groups. They'll often be supported by teaching assistants. They can also work as an SEN teacher in a further education college.

What do I need to do to become a special educational needs teacher?

To work as an SEN teacher in a state maintained school, you'll need to be a qualified teacher with mainstream teaching experience.

Most independent schools will also prefer you to be a qualified teacher, although it is not always essential. SEN teachers also work in further education (FE) colleges.

Career progression

If you want to progress into the role of special educational needs coordinator (SENCO), you'll need to complete the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination within three years of starting in an SEN post.

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organisation
  • Patience
  • Teamwork

Essential qualifications

  • Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

Teachers may spend more time outside of classroom hours, planning lessons, marking work and taking part in activities, such as parents' evenings, and outings. 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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