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SENCO Qualifications Update - November 2011

Teacher and child reading

Members are reminded about the deadline for changes in the qualification requirements for SENCO in schools.  A circular was issued to draw attention to the changes.  This circular is an update and includes reference to all the changes to date:-

Details of Qualification requirements for SENCO

The Education (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) (England) Regulations as amended came into force in September 2009.  These regulations amended the Education Act 1996 and introduced prescribed qualifications and experience for SENCOs.  In particular, the post of SENCO now requires qualified teacher status; satisfactory completion of the induction period; to be working as a teacher in the school and in certain circumstances to hold the National Award.  The regulations also cover the headteacher or acting headteacher of the school when undertaking the role of SENCO. 

In the past it was possible for the SENCO role to be carried out by someone without a teaching qualification.  To take account of this ‘situation’ an interim arrangement was introduced for those employees if they had held this responsibility for a period of at least six months prior to 31st August 2009.  However, the governing body had to be satisfied that the SENCO was taking the steps necessary to satisfy the qualified status/induction/working requirements by 1st September 2011.  

The amendment to the regulations which was issued in September 2009 sets out the service criteria which exempt a SENCO from the requirement to possess the National Award if they do not have sufficient service as a SENCO.

Therefore, if any school is currently employing a person in the role of SENCO who did not have qualified teacher status on 1st September 2011 and /or will not achieve The National Award within the time limit they should contact their HR Adviser as a matter of urgency to discuss the contractual issues involved.
The relevant part of the regulation is set out below for information:-

Statutory Instruments - 2008 No. 2945
The Education (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) (England) Regulations 2008 as amended
Section 317 (3B) of the Education Act 1996 (a).

In 2008 the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families announced new regulations for special educational provision which amended the Education Act 1996   and came into force on 1st September 2009. 

The Education Act 1996 now describes the role of SENCO as follows:

‘the SENCO’ in relation to a relevant school means the person who has been designated by the governing body to be the special educational needs co-ordinator for the school.

Paragraph 3 of the Act sets out the prescribed qualifications and experience of SENCOs.  It states that the governing body of a relevant school must ensure that the SENCO appointed under section 317 (3A) of the Education Act 1996 meets each of the requirements in one of the paragraphs (2), (3) and (4).

(2) The requirements in this paragraph are that the SENCO-
a) is a qualified teacher (b),
b) if required to complete an induction period under regulations made under
              section 19 of Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998(a), has satisfactorily
              completed such an induction period and
c) is working as a teacher at the school.

(3) The requirement in this paragraph is that the SENCO is the headteacher or acting headteacher of the school and meets the requirements of regulations made under section 135 of the Education Act 2002 if required to do so (b).

(4) The requirements in this paragraph are that the SENCO-

a)   has had responsibility for co-ordinating the making of special education provision for pupils with special educational needs at the school for a period of at least six months ending on the 31st August 2009 and

b) the governing body is satisfied that –
I. the SENCO is taking steps to meet the requirements in paragraph (2) and
II. there is a reasonable prospect that the SENCO will meet those requirements by 1st September 2011
III. or in the case of SENCOs taking on this role on or after
1st September 2009, the requirements must be met by the 1st September 2012 or on the third anniversary of their starting date.  The SENCO must hold the qualification for the time being known as ‘The National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination’ by the required date (ie. 1st September 2012 or on the third anniversary of their starting date).

Page reviewed:15/10/2015