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Why work in SEND?

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Are you thinking about studying for a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) qualification? At the University of Sunderland, we offer a range of SEND courses appealing to both aspiring and practising SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Coordinators), professionals working with or aspiring to work with students with SEND, and educators who would like to increase their knowledge and understanding in this area. Here, find out more about our SEND courses and explore all the reasons why gaining a qualification in SEND could be great for your career.

A female teacher is sitting in a classroom, helping two primary school children with their work

What does SEND mean?

SEND is the system that supports children who may have additional needs when it comes to their education, such as a learning difficulty and/or a disability. These children find it harder to learn compared to other pupils of their age and so require unique educational provision to ensure they have the same opportunities as everybody else.

What does a SENCO do?

The role of a Special Educational Needs Coordinator is placed right at the heart of the school leadership team to ensure legal and regulatory compliance and to safeguard commitment to children’s rights and needs. SENCOs have a critical role to play in that they must oversee the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEND policy.

The roles and responsibilities of a SENCO can be incredibly varied and include:

  • Identifying children with SEND and monitoring their progress, providing regular reports and updates
  • Coordinating the additional support that's required by pupils and liaising with parents and teachers involved with them to support individual learning plans
  • Supporting and training teachers in developing and fulfilling effective behavioural management techniques in the classroom
  • Interacting with external professionals such as psychologists or occupational therapists
  • Analysing data on school, local, and national level to improve SEND strategies
  • Managing and advising on the SEN budget

“The Critical Thinking module on the MA SEND course has allowed me to reflect on my own pedagogies and completing my thesis has given me the opportunity to focus on my own interests, around why outdoor learning can benefit children with ASD. The modules all interlink so well and have given me insight into how I can support children with SEND holistically.”

Harriet Behan
BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS


Five great reasons to work in SEND

1. It's rewarding

One of the most appealing benefits of training for a SEND qualification is that you’ll play a vital role in helping children overcome any barriers they may be experiencing during their education and making a positive impact on their lives. Supporting pupils to build their confidence and seeing them succeed in even the smallest of achievements is incredibly rewarding, offering that extra level of job satisfaction than a regular teaching role. You’ll be preparing them not only for further education, but for life beyond the education system, meaning you’ll play a huge part in shaping their futures.

2. You'll be in high demand

Now more than ever, there's high demand in the education sector for qualified teachers in England and SENCOs are particularly coveted due to the rise in pupils in need of special education. According to National Statistics, the percentage of pupils with SEN support increased to 12.6% in 2022, which equates to just under 1.5 million pupils.

The skills you’ll learn on our SEND courses will significantly enhance your employability. Teaching is always a challenge, but special education requires more than excellent organisation and communication. The additional knowledge you’ll gain from studying for a SEND qualification will be extremely valuable, as you’ll need to be able to adapt to a variety of different situations and have strong behavioural management skills.

3. It can be financially beneficial

Due to the increasing demand within both education and SEND itself, working in this area can also be financially beneficial. Qualified teachers in England and Wales can expect to earn a starting salary of at least £30,000, which then increases as you move up the pay scale or move into a senior leadership role.

As well as a regular salary, if you become a SENCO you can expect to receive an additional allowance of somewhere between £2,539 and £5,009 due to your responsibility for SEND pupils. Depending on the school you work for, you may also receive a Teaching and Learning Responsibility payment.

4. Training is ongoing

Another great reason to consider a career in SEND is that you’re continuously building on your knowledge of the field. From the moment you join one of our SEND courses until you’re established within your first role and beyond, there’s plenty of on-the-job training to take advantage of.

Physical and learning disabilities cover a broad spectrum, so every child will have different needs and your skills will be constantly evolving. You may even decide that you want to specialise in a certain area of SEND, given that there are so many factors that result in children requiring this kind of education.

5. You can be creative

Although challenging, working in SEND can also be fun as it allows you the opportunity to be creative with how you deliver your teaching. There’s an element of freedom that you won’t get with a regular teaching role, as special education is all about the individual child and one size won’t fit all. You’ll be able to use your creativity to try new things, inspire and engage pupils, and ultimately help them to succeed academically.

Primary school children taking part in an activity

What SEND courses are available at the University of Sunderland?

We offer several different SEND courses at Sunderland, both at undergraduate and postgraduate degree level. Find out more about the SEND qualifications you can study for and discover which one is right for you below.

Undergraduate SEND courses

  • BA (Hons) Primary Education with SEND

If you’re interested in becoming a primary school teacher with a focus on SEND, our BA (Hons) Primary Education with SEND course could be what you’re looking for. The degree will allow you to receive the same training as our other teacher training courses, but with modules and placements tailored to helping you develop your skills in working with SEN pupils. You'll graduate with Qualified Teacher Status, but if you were to consider becoming a SENCO once you graduate, you would need to complete a further qualification.

Postgraduate SEND courses


The most recent addition to our offering of SEND courses, the MA SEND is a highly flexible degree which will permit you to specialise in studying the issues around SEND which suit you. The programme is ideal for teachers and other educational professionals who want to develop their careers in Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities through a clear progression route, allowing them to graduate with a highly specific postgraduate degree. We've also recently launched a distance learning version of this course – the MA SEND (DL).

  • PgCert Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: Leading Provision and Practice

This postgraduate SEND course is delivered via distance learning and offers the opportunity for practitioners in the education sector to develop their knowledge and understanding of effective provision for children with SEND. The course reflects the differing contexts of practitioners across the globe with an interest in working with children and young people with SEND and is designed to provide opportunities to put learning into practice.

Have we proven to you that studying for a SEND qualification is an excellent career route? Find out more about our Teacher Training and Education courses.

Published: 9 November 2022