Special Educational Needs teachers (or SENs) are the people who work with children and young people who need further support with their learning because they find it difficult.
You’d be working with children who have mild to moderate special needs, and specific learning difficulties such as dyspraxia or dyslexia, as well as those with physical disabilities and behavioural problems.
You’d be expected to teach the subjects on the curriculum, and to liaise with medical professionals, speech and language therapists and psychologists to best assess how to help specific children in the best way.
Salary & benefits
The standard salary scale is between £22,000 and £33,000 (or between £28,000 and £38,000 in London), whilst those who reach the top of this scale might be able to progress to the higher pay scale.
On the higher pay scale you could earn between £35,000 and £38,000 (or £43,000 and £46,000 in London). However, there are different pay scales for those teachers who have required specific skills, and all who take on leadership roles with extra responsibility.
Full time teachers will work around 38 hours a week, usually between the hours of 8 and 4 on any given day. However, teachers are expected to spend more time outside the classroom marking books, planning lessons and helping with extra curricular activities, as well as having to attend events such as parents’ evenings, school plays and field trips.
To gain access to an SEN role in a state school you’ll need to be a fully qualified teacher with some real life teaching experience, and you’ll be expected to achieve the ‘Mandatory Qualification’ for working with students with learning difficulties within three years of starting in a post.
If you wanted to work in a private school, it’s not as essential to be fully qualified as a teacher, although it is preferred. There are also SEN teachers in colleges and nurseries across the country, so the breadth of the role is there to be explored.
Training & progression
When you initially train to become a teacher, there will be certain elements of working with children with learning difficulties integrated into your courses. Once you’ve passed this however, there are plenty of opportunities to take further training in specific aspects of special needs.
There’s also the Mandatory Qualification mentioned above, which is offered by a variety of Universities at postgraduate level and which can be studied alongside working.