A career as an SEN Teacher: What can educators expect?

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SEN stands for Special Education Needs, and for teachers suited for the job, it’s a rewarding career choice for more reasons than one. Then again, not everyone is suited for the job, because it does require that extra bit of effort from SEN teachers. Due to the sensitive and special circumstances of their students, an aspiring SEN teacher should be well aware of the job, the additional duties and the responsibilities that come with it, as well as associated career benefits.

Understanding the Definition and Importance of SEN Teaching

SEN, or special education needs, refers to a range of additional assistance that some children require in order to go through their grades in school. Due to innate/acquired conditions, these children cannot accept, understand, incorporate, remember and/or recall some/all aspects of a normal school curriculum. The condition and its severity on the child usually decide what kind of help they need and to what extent. Common examples of SEN disorders are:

  • EBD or Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
  • Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome
  • ADD or Attention Deficient Disorder
  • ADHD or Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia
  • NVLD or Nonverbal Learning Disorder
  • Oral or Written Language Disorder
  • Specific Reading Comprehension Deficit
  • Executive Functioning (Not exactly a learning disorder, but affects a child’s time management and attentive abilities)

Any child who finds it harder to learn lessons/subjects as compared to the average student requires special attention. This applies whether they have been diagnosed with a learning disability/associative disability or not. Children in such conditions need special attention from teachers with accredited SEN teacher training since they are the only ones equipped to help them understand school work and excel in their academic careers to the best of their abilities.

In the absence of such qualified teachers and the special attention which they provide to help children with the aforementioned conditions, the students will either drop out on their own or be forced to drop out due to the increasingly difficult standard of education. Therefore, the role of properly trained special eds teachers is absolutely paramount for imparting education in many children across the United Kingdom.

Becoming a Special Eds Teacher: What Should You Expect?

As an SEN trained teacher, you will be expected to perform multiple or all of the duties mentioned next, depending on the role you assume at a school.

  • Applying the 4-Part Additional Aid principle via assessing, planning, executing and reviewing, when necessary
  • Devising plans with definite strategies to meet the needs of all special eds children under your care, be it individually or as a class
  • Ensuring regular participation in social activities with other students who do not need extra help
  • Involving parents in the plans and their executions
  • Informing school authorities regarding what equipment SEN students need in order to catch up
  • Taking measures to ensure that children with disabilities are not left behind or isolated by other students
  • Developing SEN policies (higher qualifications and a good deal of relevant experience will be necessary)
  • Helping to create the budget that would be necessary to either launch a new SEN plan or improve upon the old one

It should be noted that aside from the duties mentioned already, a teacher in direct charge of students with learning disabilities will also have to coordinate with other professionals/organisations trying to help the children. This may include therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and behavioural support staff.

SEN Teachers Can Also Work as Regular Teachers When Required

Only educators who have attained both their applicable qualified teacher status (QTS) and completed their SEN training can become special ed teachers. Even if the establishment does not need an SEN teacher at that time, the candidate’s status as a qualified teacher will ensure that they can also assume standard teaching roles. If anything, the additional special needs education training will boost a candidate’s chance of getting the position, whether there are any kids in the class who need their specific aid or not.

Despite the opportunity, it is not a desirable career choice for SEN teachers. The additional training and qualification will go to waste if they don’t get to utilise it and learn more through experience. The pay will not be much higher than the average pay of a school teacher (primary/secondary/high school) in the UK either. Nevertheless, it remains a valid option to fall back on, and especially so if the teacher also has a PGCE or even an M.Ed. to further strengthen their CV.

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