An expert look at ... the time pressures faced by Sendcos

7th December 2018 at 00:00

Every week, one of our reporters will take a look at one of their specialist topics and offer their unique insight. This week, Helen Ward says that SEND coordinators do not feel that they have enough time to fulfil their responsibilities

What does working as a special educational needs and disabilities coordinator involve? For the dry detail, you could read the SEND Code of Practice.

But researchers at the NEU teaching union, Bath Spa University and special needs charity Nasen wanted to know what working as a Sendco was really like.

In their survey of 1,900 Sendcos, people said they felt that no matter how long they worked, they were still too stretched to fulfil their responsibilities. “I love being a Sendco, but I just don’t know if I can cope with the level of stress,” said one respondent.

The SEND Code of Practice states: “The school should ensure that the Sendco has sufficient time and resources to carry out these functions.”

Some 70 per cent of Sendcos said they didn’t have the time to meet the demands of the job, and fewer than a third planned to be in the role in five years’ time.

The researchers’ report calls for the role to have legally protected time, suggesting a minimum of 1.5 days per week.

There are precedents for such a move – a minimum of 10 per cent planning, preparation and assessment time was introduced in 2005 for all classroom teachers. And there is pressure to extend the additional 10 per cent reduction in teaching hours that newly qualified teachers get in their first year into the proposed second year of a two-year induction period.

Interestingly, when the government consulted on extending the induction period, it was supporting pupils with SEND that young teachers were most interested in focusing on in those first two years.

At a time when it seems that non-contact hours could be used to help to retain teachers as they start out, those who then step up as Sendcos are still left stranded.

The system is burning through the goodwill of teachers who don’t want to see children being left without support. But teachers are still expected to make do and carry on…until they can’t.

Helen Ward is a reporter for Tes

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