Special educational needs (SEN) teacher
Special educational needs (SEN) teachers work with children and young people who need extra support.
1. Entry requirements
To become a special educational needs teacher, you'll need:
- GCSEs (A* to C or grade 4) in English and Maths or equivalent qualifications
- GCSE science (A* to C or grade 4) to teach in primary schools
- passes in numeracy and literacy skills tests
- some school experience to support your application
- enhanced background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service
If you have a degree, you can train through a postgraduate teacher training course. There are 2 main routes: school-led and university-led. Both provide you with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge needed for teaching, but are delivered differently.
If you don’t have a degree, you can qualify by taking a course that awards qualified teacher status (QTS).
Depending on the route you take, you could get a salary, a bursary, or a student loan.
Get Into Teaching has more information on funding.
Most independent schools prefer qualified teachers, but it's not essential.
To teach pupils with hearing impairment, vision impairment or multi-sensory impairment, you’ll need further specialist qualifications.
Mandatory qualifications: specialist teachers has more information.
2. Skills required
- planning and organisational skills
- creativity and ability to adapt to changing situations
- excellent communication skills
- the ability to manage classes and deal with challenging behaviour
3. What you'll do
You'll work with children who have:
- general learning difficulties
- specific learning difficulties like dyslexia
- physical disabilities
- hearing or visual impairment
- challenging emotions or behaviour
You could work in a mixed class, a special class in a mainstream school, a special needs school, a pupil referral unit or a further education college. You may teach whole classes, individual pupils or small groups, often supported by a teaching assistant.
Your day-to-day duties could include:
- teaching national curriculum subjects
- helping pupils develop self-confidence, independence and abilities
- preparing lessons and teaching materials
- marking and assessing work
- working with medical staff, therapists and psychologists
- talking to parents and carers about a child's progress
- attending meetings, statutory reviews and training workshops
- organising outings, social activities and sporting events
Starter: £24,500 to £35,000, increasing to £40,000 in inner London
Experienced: £38,500 to £41,250, increasing to £50,000 in inner London
Highly Experienced: £43,000 to £63,250, increasing to £70,750 in inner London
These figures are a guide. They include the SEN allowances of £2,085 to £4,116.
Your salary will depend on where you're based, class size, and your responsibilities.
Get Into Teaching has more information on salaries.
5. Working hours, patterns and environment
You'll usually work 37 hours a week for 39 weeks a year, split over 3 school terms.
You'll spend extra time planning lessons, marking work and taking part in school activities.
6. Career path and progression
You could become the SEN co-ordinator or head of department. At a special needs school, you could become deputy head or headteacher.
Last updated: 24 February 2017