How Much Experience Do You Need to Be a SENCO? – New SENCO Basics

by | Apr 7, 2023

How Much Experience Do You Need to Be a SENCO?

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO), you may be wondering how much teaching experience you need before you can apply for this role. In the UK, there are no set rules on how much experience is required to become a SENCO, but there are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

SENCO Qualifications and Requirements in the UK

To become a SENCO in the UK, you must first have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which typically requires completing a Bachelor’s degree in Education or a related field. You will also need to have completed a postgraduate certificate in Special Educational Needs Coordination (NASENCO), which typically takes one year to complete.

Whilst the NASENCO is the correct course at present, the NPQ is the proposed replacement model, but will not be available until at least September 2025.


Postgraduate Courses in SENCO

Several universities and colleges in the UK offer postgraduate courses in SENCO. You can find a list of approved courses on this website.

Teaching Experience

While there is no set amount of teaching experience required to become a SENCO, it is generally recommended that you have at least two years of experience working as a teacher before pursuing a SENCO qualification. This is because the role of a SENCO involves working closely with teachers, parents, and external agencies to identify and address the needs of students with special educational needs, and having prior teaching experience can provide valuable insights into the challenges faced by both students and teachers.

The Type of Person Needed to Be a SENCO

Being a SENCO requires a unique set of skills and qualities. The ideal candidate for a SENCO role is someone who is patient, compassionate, and able to communicate effectively with a range of stakeholders, including students, parents, and external agencies. They should have a deep understanding of special educational needs and disabilities, and a commitment to promoting inclusive education practices.

In addition, a SENCO should possess strong organisational and administrative skills, as well as the ability to analyse and interpret data related to student performance and progress. They should be able to work collaboratively with teachers to develop effective support plans for students with special educational needs, and be comfortable with managing budgets and resources to ensure that these plans are implemented successfully.


In summary, while there is no set amount of teaching experience required to become a SENCO in the UK, having at least two years of experience is generally recommended. However, what is more important is possessing the necessary qualifications, skills, and qualities to be an effective SENCO. If you are a patient, compassionate, and committed educator with a passion for supporting students with special educational needs, a career as a SENCO may be a great fit for you.

Abigail Hawkins FCCT

Abigail Hawkins FCCT

Director of SENDCO Solutions

Abigail Hawkins was a SENCO for over 25 years and has worked with pupils with all types of needs.  Abigail has worked with Ed-Tech companies on developing their software and also been chair of governors for a multi-academy trust. Abigail now runs SENsible SENCO and SENDCO Solutions, with the aim of working with SENCOs and inclusion leaders across the UK to improve their support for SEND pupils. See our school services for more information.

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