Special educational needs teacher
35 per week
£22,466 + per year
Special educational needs (SEN) teachers work with children and young people who need extra support with their learning.
If you want to inspire young people through education, are well organised and have lots of creative ideas, this job could be perfect for you. You'll need good communication skills, a patient and understanding approach, and the ability to tailor learning to pupils’ needs.
To work as a special needs teacher you’ll need a recognised teaching qualification and teaching experience.
As a special educational needs (SEN) teacher, you can work with children who have:
- mild to moderate learning difficulties
- specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia
- physical disabilities
- hearing or visual impairment
- emotional or behavioural problems
Typically, you will:
- teach national curriculum subjects
- help pupils to develop their self-confidence, independence and abilities
- prepare lessons and teaching materials
- mark and assess work
- work with other professionals, such as medical staff, speech and language therapists and educational psychologists
- speak to parents and carers about their children's progress
- attend meetings and training workshops
- organise outings, social activities and sporting events
You can work in a mixed class, a special class in a mainstream school, or in a special school. You can teach individual pupils or work in small groups. You’ll often be supported by teaching assistants. You can also work as an SEN teacher in a further education college.
Working hours and conditions
Full-time teachers work an average 37 hours a week, with typical class time starting between 8.30am and 9.15am and finishing around 3.15pm to 4pm. Teachers may spend more time outside of classroom hours, planning lessons, marking work and taking part in activities, like parents' evenings and outings.
Schools have some flexibility to set their own salaries. The rates below are the latest guidelines.
The main salary scale is from £22,466 to £33,159 a year (£28,097 to £38,241 in inner London).
Teachers who reach the top of the main salary scale may be able to progress to the higher scale. This ranges from £35,570 to £38,250 (£43,184 to £46,829 in inner London).
There are also separate scales for teachers who have advanced skills or progress into leadership roles, where they can earn up to £66,638 (inner London rate). There are extra payments for those who take on extra responsibilities.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
To work as an SEN teacher in a state maintained school you'll need to be a qualified teacher with mainstream teaching experience. You'll also be expected to complete the ‘Mandatory Qualification’ within three years of starting in an SEN post. This qualification is required to work with pupils who have special educational needs.
Most independent schools will also prefer you to be a qualified teacher, although it is not always essential. SEN teachers also work in further education (FE) colleges
For details of entry requirements and routes to becoming a qualified teacher in schools or FE colleges, see the job profiles in the Related careers list.
You can also find more details about how to train as a teacher on the Get Into Teaching website.
Training and development
Your initial teacher training course will include some elements on special needs. Once you're a qualified teacher, you can take further training in different aspects of special educational needs organised through your school and local education authority.
You will also need to complete the Mandatory Qualification (MQ) appropriate to the groups you work with. You'll need to do this within three years of starting work. The MQ is offered by several universities at postgraduate level.
Skills, interests and qualities
To become a special educational needs teacher, you'll need:
- an interest in the education and welfare of pupils
- good communication and 'people' skills
- the ability to work in a team but also use your own initiative
- good organisational skills
- creative ideas for learning activities
- the ability to manage classes and deal with challenging behaviour
- willingness to assist with personal care needs if necessary
- patience and a good sense of humour
Tel: 0191 383 1155
Text: 07974 121594
Get Into Teaching
Tel: 0800 389 2500
Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB)
Tel: 0303 123 9999
British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
You'll find most opportunities for SEN teaching in mainstream schools.
In mainstream schools, you may have the opportunity to progress to special educational needs coordinator, or head of the special needs department. In special schools, you could be promoted to deputy headteacher or headteacher.
There are also opportunities to work in pupil referral units, hospital schools or youth custody centres.
You may find the following links useful for vacancies and general reading:
Job market information
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