National Award for Special Educational Need Coordination (IDL) PGCert

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Independent Distance Learning

Course starts: 07 October 2019Apply now

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Study around work commitments. Advance your own skills as a leader and reflect on how to develop the teams you work with. Enhance your teaching and learning for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

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This course is for teachers working in schools, education or care settings who have responsibility for the education of children or young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The independent distance learning delivery means you can study from anywhere in the world.

Why us?

  • ‘World-leading’ research in Education according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • 95.3% of our graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on UK postgraduate students)
  • The programme is recognised as meeting the quality standards by NASEN (National Association for Special Educational Needs)

Course structure

This course is for professionals who have an interest in meeting the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The course has been designed to fit around work commitments and is taught in independent learning mode under the guidance and support of the Programme Leader and Module Leaders.

You will be assessed with a portfolio of practice evidence to demonstrate your achievement of the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination learning outcomes. There are a range of assessments including a small scale practitioner enquiry and a critical incident.

This course is made up of two 30-credit modules, both of which are at national level 7 (Masters). When you graduate you will have a Postgraduate Certificate in either:

  • National Award Special Educational Needs Coordination, or
  • National Award Special Educational Needs Coordination 0-5 (for EYTS/EYPS)


Core modules:

  • The Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) as the Professional Guide

This module enables you to investigate, critically evaluate and reflect on current educational policy and practice in inclusive education and the impact it has on pupil participation and outcomes. You will critically evaluate and analyse evidence about learning, teaching and assessment in relation to pupils with specific needs in order to improve practice.

You will have the opportunity to explore a range of issues such as being gifted and talented, socio-economic background, ethnic group, whether pupils are looked after and adopted and other relevant factors such as safeguarding, health and wellbeing and language and communication.

You will critically reflect on national policies, legislation, Ofsted frameworks, funding models and how these impact on provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities. The key role of the SENCO is an integral component of the module, in terms of their strategic role in leading a team of practitioners and support staff.

As part of the module there will be a critical exploration of multi-agency approaches and how to work effectively with parents and carers. In addition, you will need to demonstrate an understanding of data protection and the issues relating to confidentiality including Governor accountability. The module aims to enable critical reflection with a view to developing a deep understanding of the benefits, and challenges, of teaching pupils as defined above. You will engage with relevant theory, research and inspection evidence in order to evaluate the effectiveness of a range of interventions employed to support pupils.

  • The Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) as the Leader

This module enables you to investigate, evaluate and reflect on the characteristics of highly effective leadership. You will critically reflect on the generic attributes of leadership in the SENCO role and will use initiative, take responsibility and solve problems in creative and innovative ways, using a variety of media.

You will make decisions in challenging situations and communicate effectively with colleagues in school, other professionals and parents and carers. This will include a critical reflection on the effectiveness of school systems in order to strategically develop a person centred and inclusive ethos, policies, priorities and practices in relation to the provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities and/or other identified groups. The module will develop leadership skills in the role of SENCO to ensure that statutory responsibilities are met through promoting improvements in teaching and learning.

A qualified SENCO will be able to model effective practice and to coach and mentor colleagues. The leadership of professional development of staff to ensure that they are able to remove barriers to learning and participation are fundamental to this module.

A key focus of the module is to adapt to the changes to the SEN system in light of current legislative and policy changes from 2014. You will critically self-evaluate your own leadership including strengths and areas for development, and learn to establish or improve systems to collect, analyse and interpret data to inform school policy and practices to raise expectations, pupil participation and ensure challenging targets are set.

There is a requirement for participants to engage with relevant theory, research in order to disseminate aspects of good practice to senior leadership, governors, colleagues and other organisations.

  • As a distance-learning student, you'll be able to remotely access online journals, articles and e-books.

    The library team offer real-time online help through ‘Live Chat’ at various periods throughout the day, and they also offer online tutorials to help you make the most of our electronic resources.

    Library Services - distance learning
  • This course can be studied anywhere in the world that has internet access. The course is delivered by Canvas - the University's Virtual Learning Environment. You will use learning and reading packs, e-books, e-journals, relevant websites and multimedia.

    You will have full access to our libraries and, as a distance learning student, you will particularly benefit from our web-based ‘Discover’ search tool. This helps you gain remote access to online journals, articles and e-books – whenever and wherever you happen to be studying.

    Virtual Learning Environment


This course is delivered via distance-learning. You will need internet access to use our Virtual Learning Environment, where you will access specially designed learning materials, e-books, e-journals, relevant websites and multimedia.

Entry requirements

If you have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) you will qualify to be SENCO for all children and young people.

If you have Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYTS) or Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) you will qualify to be SENCO for children 0-5 years.

Before applying please note:

Along with your application form, you must upload the following documents on application:

  • Degree and or PGCE certificate
  • QTS/QTLS/EYTS/EYPS certificate
  • Support letter from your education or care setting stating they are in agreement with you undertaking the course



Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is £1,860.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

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All maintained mainstream schools, academies and free schools must have a qualified teacher who is designated as the Special Educational Needs Coordinator for the school. As a SENCO, you will provide leadership and professional guidance to your colleagues and the school.

As a SENCO in a mainstream school, you are legally required to gain a National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination within three years of taking the post. This course meets that legal requirement. It delivers the learning outcomes required by the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) for the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination.

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