A special educational needs (SEN) teacher works with children and teenagers who need extra support in the classroom or require an advanced programme of education. This could be a child with physical, developmental and/or learning difficulties.
Who can I work for?
You can work in pre-schools, nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities. You might also work within a specialist unit or a special school for those with severe disabilities and there are opportunities within young offenders' institutions.
Where and when can I work?
You are likely to be based in a classroom and will typically work 9am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday. However, other responsibilities, such as lesson planning and meetings with other care providers, means working outside of school hours.
What can I earn?
Newly qualified SEN teachers start out on about £21,500 rising to £31,500 with experience. Those with many years' experience earn in excess of £36,000.
What are the benefits?
This role is hugely rewarding, despite the challenges it poses. Overall, you will be making a huge difference to a child's life.
Are there chances of promotion?
Progression can be quick, if you are motivated. You might be asked to take on extra responsibilities, such as managing the curriculum, or become an advanced skills teacher. With experience, you can progress become the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) overseeing the day-to-day provision for all students in the school's care.
What will I be responsible for?
You will be teaching individuals or small groups of pupils; preparing lessons; marking and assessing work; adapting conventional teaching methods to meet the individual needs of pupils; using special equipment and specialist skills; assessing children who have long or short-term learning difficulties; organising learning outside the classroom; and assisting in severely disabled pupils' personal care/medical needs. The work is challenging and varied and classes are short to keep the students focused.
Do I need any experience?
You will need a degree or Bachelor of Education plus a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). Qualified teachers can undertake additional training to teach pupils with special educational needs and specific qualifications are required to teach pupils with hearing, visual or multi-sensory impairments. You will also need an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.
What attributes are needed?
You will need to be committed to the role, showing excellent problem-solving skills, patience and flexibility. You will also need to work well as part of a team and keep a sense of humour as the work can be challenging!