National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination Postgraduate Certificate

Apply now

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.

Register your interest


This course is for both aspiring and practising Special Educational Needs Coordinators, already working in the field of education and care. 

You will develop the skills and knowledge you need to help students with special educational needs including those with disabilities.

The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (DfE, 2014) requires governing bodies of maintained mainstream schools and the proprietors of academy schools (including free schools) to ensure that there is a qualified teacher designated as Special Educational Needs (SEN) co-ordinator (SENCO) for the school. Where a SENCO appointed after 1 September 2008 has not previously been the SENCO at that or any other relevant school for a total period of more than twelve months, they must achieve the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination within three years of appointment.

NASCO logo

Why us?

  • ‘World-leading’ research in Education, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • The programme has been awarded the NASEN quality standards
  • Focused on school improvement which has a direct impact on meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities

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 therefore the classes take place over five Saturdays, there is also one additional school-led day.

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 analysis.

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 as the Professional Guide (30 credits)

This module deepens your understanding of the benefits and challenges of a range of interventions for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, including those who are gifted and talented. You will investigate and evaluate current educational policy and practice in inclusive education, and the impact on pupil participation and outcomes. You will also critically reflect on national policies and legislation, and how these are implemented at school level.

As part of the module you will engage with relevant theory, research and inspection evidence in order to evaluate the effectiveness of a range of interventions. There will be a critical exploration of multi-agency working and the effectiveness of a team-around-the-child approach. You will also explore how the learning of children and young people is impacted by issues such as socio-economic background, ethnicity, looked after and adopted, and language and communication.

  • The Special Educational Needs Coordinator as the Leader (30 credits)

The second module examines how to strategically develop person-centred and inclusive policies, priorities and practices in relation to the provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities. You will investigate, evaluate and reflect on the characteristics of highly effective leadership, and reflect on the effectiveness of current school systems.

You will explore the role of leadership and professional challenge in supporting and promoting a culture of professional learning linked to improvement. You will also engage with relevant theory and research in order to disseminate aspects of good practice to senior leadership, governors, colleagues and other organisations.

  • The St Peter’s Library contains over 31,000 books related to business, economics, management, human resources, marketing, strategy and tourism, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

    Library Services - St Peter's Library
  • Map and directions


This course blends on-campus learning and distance-learning. Classes take place over five Saturdays at the University of Sunderland, and there is also one additional school-led day.

You will also use the University’s Virtual Learning Environment to complete assignments and communicate with tutors.

Entry requirements

To apply for this course you must already have a teaching qualification.

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 £2,250.

This course is not available to international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

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

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

Student in the Sunderland Futures department


All maintained mainstream schools, academies and free schools must have a qualified teacher who is designated as the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) 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.

Meet the team

Sign up to receive more information

Sign up to receive emails about your subject area.

Keep me up to date relating to my interest in the University of Sunderland via:


You may unsubscribe at any time.

Oops! You've not opted in to receiving other useful information about the University of Sunderland.


Using Your Personal Information
The University of Sunderland is collecting this data in order for you to receive information on your chosen subject(s). Your information will be stored securely in our Customer Relationship Management system which is provided by a 3rd party and used only for the administration and provision of this information. Should you choose to opt in to further communications we will also use your information to facilitate other useful marketing information based on your preferences. Further information on how your data is stored and used can be found in our Privacy notice - marketing.