Why the SENCo is so vital – especially now

Respect for all teachers – especially SEND teachers & Learning Support staff.

If we are to realise one thing from the COVID pandemic it should be this: the invaluable role that all teachers play in helping to positively shape our children’s state-of-mind.

Many parents report that the well-being of their children declined during the lockdown(s). Several influences caused this deterioration, but the lack of interaction with their teachers has to be one contributing factor.

These parental reports also highlight that children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) have been affected more than others. 

Therefore it seems as though many children have badly missed the vital support that their teachers provide. Especially those with special educational needs.

We could also benefit from reminding ourselves that teachers bravely continued throughout the pandemic without complaint. Even though they were constantly exposed when they were in school! Their own emotions and sense of personal safety may have been shaken. On top of this, they have had to deal with disruptions in their usual teaching routines. Increased fatigue due to juggling “regular” and “remote learning” classes was another factor.

Perhaps society could benefit from a recovery curriculum for teachers as well as one for the children!

Is the value of the SENCo currently underestimated?

In recent years we have witnessed a sharp year-on-year increase in anxiety and depression in children. SEN registers are getting bigger, often outgrowing staffing allocation and other resources.

We only need to remind ourselves that the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is overwhelmed to realise that many schools could be in a similar position.

Some Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCos) who want to dedicate fully to their role are unable to because they have more than one job in school! Others don’t have the luxury of a quiet office, free from interruption, where they can think things through and make their plans. Many are over-stretched because they don’t have a big enough team of Learning Support staff. Lots are unable to commit to investments in their provision because they don’t have control of a budget!

More input often equals better outcomes.

School leaders recognise that low self-confidence, anxiety, and demotivation, can cause children to underachieve in many aspects of their lives, including academic attainment. Therefore, essential ingredients within every successful school’s culture include: enabling children to discover and develop their character, interests, and talents, and build up their resilience, independence, and self-esteem.

Perhaps now is the time for ambitious leaders to think outside the box concerning the role of the SENCo!

I’m thinking – expand, expand, expand!

More autonomy and bigger salaries, more dedicated support staff, more time allocated, more funding and more resources equals happier, more self-confident children, and more academic achievement.  

What are your thoughts?

You may also like this post Recovery Curriculum – Revitalising Children’s Confidence & Resilience (mindscreen.com)

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Helping Children Flourish

Gav Devereux

Author bio

Being labelled remedial and regularly told that I was a “stupid boy” affected my self-esteem as a child. I had to work hard to prove to myself that there was nothing wrong with me! This journey led me to found Mindscreen and become a certified behavioural and motivational analyst. My personal experience drove me to develop resources to help children find their stride early in life.

Since then I’ve been involved in many youth projects, including the Scottish National Debate on Education, Columba 1400’s Head Teacher Leadership Academy, and the Entrepreneurial Spirit Project.

I’m honoured to have helped hundreds of young people to recognise their own strengths and unlock their potential.