'All teachers are Sendcos now'

Headteachers can't expect Sendcos to solve every issue – the day of one person dealing with SEND has gone, says Colin Harris

These days all teachers have to take responsibility for supporting SEND pupils  - it can't all be down to the Sendco, says Colin Harris

Is it time to feel sorry for the humble Sendco? They work so hard and yet whatever they do never seems right. 

The facts are interesting at the moment, as schools have more and more “challenging” pupils. Headteachers are overburdened by the implications of this, and teachers find the number of these challenging children in their classes rising daily.

And who does it fall upon to try and support these pupils? The Sendco.

The Sendco: a solution for every issue

The Sendco is seen as the person who can provide the solution for every issue in every classroom. And as we know this is not possible. Teachers all too often abdicate their responsibility when a child is presenting challenges beyond what they consider their remit to be. 

It is over to the Sendco to try and offer solutions. But good Sendcos can be just part of the solution. Providing for all the special educational needs and disabilities in a school has to be a whole-school undertaking. Today, headteachers cannot expect Sendcos to solve every issue as if they have a magic wand. They need to work with everyone in an integrated and imaginative way.

Keeping pupils in class

All too often, sadly, teachers see withdrawing a challenging pupil from their classroom as the answer. But often this approach doesn't work. The child is withdrawn and offered additional support, and then an attempt is made to reintegrate them back into the classroom. But, because of many factors, this attempt at reintegration is often unsuccessful. And so the cycle of failure begins again.

Interventions delivered in the classroom can be successful, but they need to be carefully planned with entry and exit strategies, and limited to a specific time. If something doesn't work, why keep on doing it? Teachers and Sendcos need to recognise what has worked and what hasn't, and whether a child is moving forwards. 

Schools need to support all children's needs, and these needs are becoming more complex. All teachers are now Sendcos in their own right, coordinated by the one who has the title. It has to be a whole-school approach. The day of one person dealing with special needs in the school has gone. 

Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsted reports were 'outstanding' across all categories

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