So You’re the SENCO

Part 2

Mrs Nest walked to her desk in a space pretentiously called an office, shoved a pile of paperwork to one side in order to create a space, and booted up her school laptop.  It would take several minutes; she put the kettle on, switched it to boil, and wandered across the courtyard to the staff toilets.  Bladder control was still reasonable, but it’ll probably be another 11 hours before she gets to go again.


Staff pigeonholes were roomed near the toilets, and upon checking these, there were three letters, a school notice and a message in there.  Glancing at the message, Mrs Nest discovered that the education psychologist had left a phone message wanting to observe one of the children at 10 am today; a message that was left at 4:31 pm on Friday.  This didn’t bode well.  Mrs Nest would be teaching, the child’s regular teaching assistant was absent, and it was all hands to the deck.  Whilst one part of her wanted to leave a 7:30 am message for the educational psychologist telling them where to go, ala Andrea Jenkyns style, the other part of her knew it would be another three months to get the education psychologist back in again.  Mrs Nest would make something work.

The school notice had information about an external visitor for students and a rotation of workshops on Wednesday.  Mrs Nest made a mental note to check on the impact of those changes later.

She returned to her office with the three letters still unopened in her hand, grabbed a mug of hot water, squished a teabag, sat down to a booted-up laptop, and opened her emails. 

Inbox zero! 


Now, that may be because she was daft enough to have emails on her phone, and she did check them at 10 pm last night, but it was unusual to go so long without something appearing.  Not even a newsletter from pivotal, an advert from TTS, resources from Twinkl, job alerts from Tes.  Being reminded of phones, Mrs Nest pated her pocket and glanced at her bag.   The image of the phone on the kitchen table charging flashed before her.  Oh well!


Mrs Nest put the lid down on the laptop, sending it into standby mode and precariously balanced it atop the piles of paper she had earlier moved.  Timetabling teaching assistants was primarily a paper exercise.  She pulled the timetable of each absent teaching assistant and mentally rag-rated their lessons. 

Red if that group of students absolutely needed somebody there. 

Amber, if she could be creative. 

Green.  No, there were no green ones.  None of the classes could go entirely without; it would suggest she was overcapacity with teaching assistant support, and that certainly wasn’t the case!

If she could persuade Miss Eno to move between two maths lessons during period one, they would be OK.  One of the students only needed settling and then rarely accessed support throughout the rest of the lesson; the other class was fine during group input and only needed help when they began independent work.  She sniggered to herself, hardly independent if they required support.  If only the teacher would plan for them rather than expecting a teaching assistant to modify on the hoof!


Moving from her own classroom where things like that happened to having an opportunity rarely afforded to a class teacher, namely the ability to see others in action, had been an eye-opener.  Things that Mrs Nest just assumed would be in place as part of plain old good teaching and common sense were just not there from all the staff.

Having resolved the first lesson, she was struggling with the second.  Oreo, one of the EHCP students, had been off last week, leaving his assigned staff twiddling their thumbs.  One of the fatalities of streaming students in year seven and eight at this all-through school, Oreo was in the top set, and literally, no one else needed anything.  If Oreo was off this week, too, his allocated staff could be redeployed.  Mrs Nest sent up a silent prayer and risked assigning them to the red-rated sessions.

Remembering the education psychologist, Mrs Nest realised the student was with her and the literacy intervention group she had inherited at the time.  If she could persuade the admin team to meet, greet and bring the education psychologist over then, she could have a quick corridor chat and let them observe.  Not perfect, and the education psychologist wouldn’t be happy with the corridor or it not being a ‘real’ lesson, but tough, give more notice next time!  Mrs Nest opened up the laptop and pinged a message to Renate on the reception desk before closing the lid again.  Still no new notifications.  But otherwise, it was normal, Monday morning.


Arrives on her first day as a SENCO