To say that a SENCO’s role is possibly one of the most challenging in terms of accountability is perhaps an under stated view. The areas of responsibility seem to vary according to the school’s individual acknowledgment of the SENCO’s designated role. Along with the importance that is given to an inclusive environment. So, what are the main components of fulfilling the role of a SENCO? It is indeed indicative of statutory regulations, the vision of senior leadership, and the effective communication between SENCO and vital stake holders that allows them to become efficient at their role.
Without specific SEND policy and a defined role of responsibilities for the SENCO, it is unfair and completely unjustifiable to make them accountable for actions and decisions that are taken without acknowledging their particular duties. Many SENCO’s still do not have job descriptions in place and often find themselves in an isolated position when having to confront head teachers and difficult parents. The SENCO has a vital role to play in establishing the strategic development of SEND policy and provision. Hence the most effective way to ensure that they can achieve the above objectives, is to make the SENCO apart of the leadership team.
In order for a SENCO to support the identification of children with SEND, to co-ordinate SEND provision and liaise with teachers, parents, external agencies and educational psychologists, there is a requirement for them to have a specified role within the school as a leader. Without this recognition, how can a SENCO have the capacity or the authority to influence change? If they do not have a voice it is unlikely that they will be able to bring about effective change for individuals with SEND. To ensure that a school maintains the Inclusion and SEND statutory regulations set out by KHDA and ADEK, it has never been more important than now, for us to focus on the role of a SENCO.
There will be a varying number of children with SEND, and it is vital that a SENCO has the ability to function with authority, so that they can have an effective impact on the critical strategic outcomes of these individuals. It will never happen if a school fails to raise the profile of the SENCO. In turn, the head teacher and fellow senior leaders will need to address some essential factors that should allow for the development of the SENCO’s role.
Here are some key questions that need to be addressed for leadership of SEND within schools.
- Does the school have a designated person for SEND?
- Is the SENCO a member of the senior leadership team?
- Does the SENCO along with the head teacher have a clear vision regarding SEND provision?
- Is data analysis carried out to inform successful progression for children with SEND?
- Has the SENCO received up to date CPD on policy and practice?
- Does the SENCO have the appropriate knowledge to carry out initial assessments that will lead to the identification of SEND?
- As part of the school development plan is there a focus on SEND with clear aims and objectives?
- Is the SENCO involved in making decisions that are related to the deployment of support staff and resources for SEN?
To carry out their duties efficiently, SENCO’s will require time and support. It is important that they are given this if we want to establish an inclusive environment for all our children.
By: Talat Khan