The Role of the SENCO and unanswered Questions

Our chat rooms are a great way to ask questions as we have parents and practitioners as members, all of whom are there to bring together their experience and knowledge.

We also run regular Web Chats about specific topics and today we’ve had the great pleasure of Julie Revels (from Church Park Consultants) joining us to answer questions on the role of the SENCO.  Here is a brief overview of the questions asked and answered in today’s Web chat , together with some unanswered questions from our other chat rooms

senco chat

Are SENCos in academies, free schools etc required to work to the same guidelines as those in mainstream schools and if so, how can inadequate professional practice be challenged in these environments?

The simple answer is yes they do it is clearly stated in the section of The Code of Practice (2014). It states the Code is statutory guidance for the following organisations, ‘the proprietors of academies (including free schools, University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools).
In relation to tackling inadequate professional practice the same approach should be taken as if you were questioning ineffective practice about any aspect of a schools policy and practice and it’s impact on pupils outcomes , including their well being. You would raise it with the member of staff involved and hopefully identify what aspects should be changed and improved and what outcomes that would achieve and then agree how to consider whether the necessary action has been taken and if it has improved the situation. If this does not work it may be necessary for you to organise a meeting with one of the senior leadership team to discuss your concerns.

My senco wont issue an iep and keep ignoring my requests my daughter has spld and severe anxiety and self harms what should i be expecting from her?

It sounds as if there is break down in the communication between you and the school SENCO.The use of IEP’s varies from school to school and many no longer use IEPs to identify targets and provision and monitor progress (this has not been a requirement since 2001). However schools must use an alternative system to record areas of need, targets and provision being made for pupils which is additional to or different from what is on offer for other pupils, also the impact of this provision. This may be by using a Provision Map or Personalised planning of a different type, for instance Person Centred planning.The important issue is that your daughters needs are identified and her needs are met through planning and provision which takes into account her learning needs.
Every pupils progress is monitored on a regular basis and therefore it may be useful to request to be involved in the pupil progress discussion and to discuss your concerns. The Draft Code of Practice emphasises the involvement of parents in the process of planning to meet the needs of pupils with SEN. Good practice under the existing SEN Code should be that the SENCO works in partnership with parents, however this varies too. Under the Draft Code it explicitly says that ;Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent. These should be recorded and compared to the setting’s own assessment and information on how the pupil is developing.para 6.41.

Should a Senco have regular meetings with the class teacher? My daughter is the only child in the school with a Statement and the class teachers have admitted they have no knowledge of Statements

There is expectation that all teachers recognise their responsibilities for children with SEN and that the SENCO is the person responsible for co ordinating the provision for pupils with SEN , not the person who delivers the provision. The current Code of Practice (2001) states that all teachers are teachers of children with SEN. However, the reality of this in some schools is that the designated SENCO is the person who takes on this responsibility and class teachers do not necessarily take on the responsibility. This should not, however mean that the class teacher does not have the information available to her to use to provide appropriate high quality teaching. Good practice should mean that the SENCO and teacher and others involved in provision for your daughter, this includes teaching assistants etc, should meet to plan and review the impact of the provision being made for her.
The Draft Code of Practice (2014) is much stronger than the previous Code that class teachers remain responsible and accountable for pupils with SEND. Para 6.33 states ‘Teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of the pupils in their class, including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff.’

What responsibility does a senco have to ensure that transition reviews are person centred?

Unfortunately, the form the Transition review takes is not specifically identified. The use of Person Centred Planning is one which is good practice, however this is not necessarily the approach schools choose to use or have had access to training in. The use of Person Centred approaches remains largely under used. Bringing us together are campaigning for this to be a stronger feature in the new Code.  Find out more on their website

I would love to know if they get training on the statementing system and on how to advise parents or if they should advise parents!

A SENCO should be aware of the Statutory Assessment process in their Local Authority, this may be through training or just information available from the Local Authority.All Local Authorities have criteria and thresholds for issuing statements which SENCO’s should have knowledge of.
Some Local Authorities involve SENCO’s in their panel discussions regarding the issue of statements (not for pupils in their own school). A SENCO can offer support and information to parents regarding the Statutory aAssessment process, however they can not make recommendations for provision to be offered. Each Local Authority has a Parent Partnership Service, which can offer impartial advice, also organisations such as IPSEA are available to support parents.
In relation to more general support to parents this is something a SENCO is expected to do, however training for this is not always available at a local level. The National Award for Special Educational Needs C ordination is a qualification all SENCOS in post since 1st September 2009 must have. This may include an element of how to support parents.

At what point should they be making parents aware that there are concerns and what avenues they are going to take or is it up to the school? Is there guidance that they are given or does each senco choose when and who to get support from?

Current good practice would be that the SENCO and the class teacher involve the parent/carer from the earliest point possible to promote effective partnership and joint working to support the pupil’s progress.Parents and carers have knowledge about their child which is of great value to starting to understand the barriers to learning a child may be experiencing.Current practice for identifying children with SEN as requiring ‘school action’ and additional and different provision may involve planning interventions and support for the pupil, this should be something that is discussed with parents.If a pupil then does not make progress and is identified as needing ‘School action plus’ then professionals from beyond the school are to be involved this must be agreed by parents.
However, as you will be aware this process is soon to be replaced by the ‘graduate Approach’ which involve cycle of Assessing, planning, delivering and reviewing impact. The new code is strongly focused on principles which seek to increase involvement of parents and pupils in decision making.Therefore schools will be required to consider how effective their systems are for involving parents.Paras 6.60 -6.62 state

Where a pupil is receiving SEN support, schools should talk to parents regularly to set clear outcomes and review progress towards them, discuss the activities and support that will help achieve them, and identify the responsibilities of the parent, the pupil and the school. Schools should meet parents at least three times each year.
6.61 These discussions can build confidence in the actions being taken by the school, but they can also strengthen the impact of SEN support by increasing parental engagement in the approaches and teaching strategies that are being used. Finally, they can provide essential information on the impact of SEN support outside school and any changes in the pupil’s needs.
6.62 These discussions should be led by a teacher with good knowledge and understanding of the pupil who is aware of their needs and attainment. This will usually be the class teacher or form tutor, supported by the SENCO. It should provide an opportunity for the parent to share their concerns and, together with the teacher, agree their aspirations for the pupil.

if an external professional has requested a certain form of support and supplied all programmes and paper work only requiring 15 min 1 to 1 3 times a week. But the senco thinks her way is better and uses more 1 to 1 can they do this? Professional is Speach and Language?

When working with advice from other professionals SENCO’s need to be aware of the importance of why a certain approach is delivered in a specific way. Therefore, both professionals should discuss the optimum way to deliver the intervention. The delivery of interventions recommended by outside professionals is part of a pupil’s overall provision to meet their needs, it should be delivered in the most effective and efficient way. There are sometimes difficulties in organising the delivery of programmes in a prescribed way, however good practice would be to consider options of in class or out of class delivery and for some pupils the impact on their self esteem if they are being withdrawn from whole class teaching frequently.

If you make a complaint about a senco and you don’t get positive outcome from head do you go to governors or is there someone else?

Ask your school for a copy of their complaints procedures.  Generally after the head teacher, it is recommended to go via the Board of Governors but your school should have a “how to make a complaint” leaflet or details for you.

Is there anything in the code of practise about workforce development for Senco’s around the reforms. Is the LA accountable for ensuring they are equipped, resoursed appropriately? It seems to me that if our sencos are over worked and under informed, our children will ultimately be the ones who suffer.

There is a requirement for all SENCO’s in post after the 1st September 2009 to access the National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination. There has previously been national funding for this, however the expectation that schools will pay for this from their notional SEN budget. The training can be accessed in many ways, including on line,and face to face delivery through Universities and other training providers. The schools need to realise the SENCO to attend sessions and study and this can be problematic. Some LA’s arrange to have the course delivered locally as ‘outreach’ and find this is a good way to connect and network their SENCO’s and share expertise.
Ofsted will usually ask if the SENCO has this award and parents can also ask this question.
Other training and Continued Development opportunities (CPD) exist in areas, but almost all need to paid for and staff released. The development of federations of schools and school to school support is increasing the way in which schools can offer support to each other.CPD takes many forms such as coaching and mentoring and there are also many more resources and training on line. See the following link

BUT QuestionUnanswered Questions

Can you help with any of the following questions in our chat rooms that still need a response?

  • Does anyone know of a VI football team in East Kent?
  • a young mum of a 6 year old with SEN says school have done a risk assessment for working with… or rather not working with or supporting this child. The reason is that the child has been telling lies about the teachers, some so outlandish they would never be believed and some that are believable. This has been going on for approx. 9 weeks. The risk assessment was handed to the child’s stepdad when he collected her from school today. He was presented with it and asked to sign it, put on the spot. The issues here are the content of the risk assessment and the way it was given to be signed…   In the risk assessment school say that staff will not teach the child unless there is another member of staff nearby; that they are suspending her support sessions in their specialist resources base and that teachers are contacting their unions.
    Can anyone tell me if school are within their rights to do this… I am aware that teachers need protecting from lies being told about them but this child is just 6 years old, has recently been put on 3 different meds, has a baby brother with spina bifida and I feel that it would be more helpful and constructive to work with and support the child rather than taking these punitive measures!
    Any help and / or information would be greatly appreciated.
  • Need some advice  please. Our 10 year old ASD lad seems very upset and confused everytime we discipline him. He spends hours afterwards convinced we hate him and that we dont love him. I am genuinely concerned. He takes it so to heart and doesnt stop telling himself how useless he is and how he ‘cant get anything right’. He really beats himself up when we tell him off. I have tried to tell him that even when we tell him off we still love him very much..but of course he doesnt understand that, he says ‘if you love me why do you have a deep voice and a cross face when you tell me off?’ he also says ‘why do you say my words back to me?’. And the other one ‘if you love me can you please be a bit kinder when you tell me off’. Some advice would be helpful


benefitsNational Surveys & Consultations

  • KIDS is one of 12 charities nationally who have been asked to find out from families what they think about the support they currently receive and how it can be improved.   As part of this work they are initially asking families to complete a short (12 question) survey.  If you are able to, they would be very grateful if you could complete the online survey by Friday 16th May 2014. Go to:
  • Keeping Users safe in Health and Social Care – seeking views on the details of a new criminal offence of ill treatment or wilful neglect of users of health and social care services
  • Dept for Education are asking for views on Home to School Transport Guidance –


Don’t forget to subscribe for more updates directly into your inbox:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.






Debs Aspland

Mum to three great kids, each with a different SEN. Transplanted from the NW to the SE. Co-founder and Director of Bringing Us Together

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. but says:

    The revised Code of Practice sets out that transition reviews from year 9 must support young people to prepare for adulthood (with a particular focus on employment, independent living, health and community participation – friends relationships and community – outcomes) must identify the aspirations, interests , views and needs of the young person, identify how the young person can participate and make decisions and explore post 16 options and support that lead to their aspirations and outcomes.

    Preparing for Adulthood will be developing a how to do guide on how to use person centred reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.