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Your move: Special needs teacher

Get thinking about your future career

With inclusion high on the agenda, you are likely to meet children in mainstream schools with dyslexia, dyspraxia Asperger's syndrome and many other difficulties that count as special needs.

This area is seen by many teachers as one of the most satisfying. As a Senco (special needs co-ordinator), you might work with children who have specific learning difficulties, physical disabilities, visual and hearing impairment and a range of other problems. But as well as being a sound teacher, you must also be a good manager, strategist, advocate and trainer.

To work in special needs, you would normally have done at least two years' mainstream teaching before further training. If you are a part-time teacher or still considering training, you could gain some voluntary experience in a local school or care setting to see whether you are suited to it. But remember that you will be checked by the Criminal Records Bureau.

Some NQTs add an extra year on to their main teacher-training qualification to develop a special needs focus. For those who work in further education there is a one-year, part-time City Guilds 7401 Certificate in Continuing Professional Development (Special Needs).

LEAs offer in-service training opportunities and there are many postgraduate courses on offer. With some - for example, those offered by the Dyslexia Institute - you gain accreditation to assess students and the chance of lucrative private work to supplement your income.

Teachers with special needs experience can move into posts as advisory teachers later in their careers. If you have a degree in psychology you might consider training as an educational psychologist.

Next month: careers teacher

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Andy Stanley

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