Are SENDCOs Managing Amid Rising Pressures?

Sam Preston 20 June 2024 1 min read
Are SENDCOs Managing Amid Rising Pressures?  feature image

The role of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinators (SENDCOs) within schools, a role that demands unwavering dedication and commitment, has never been more pivotal.

Yet, these professionals face mounting pressures and challenges that increasingly accompany their responsibilities. Recent research sheds light on the struggles faced by SENDCOs and senior school leaders, highlighting their resilience and determination in navigating the complexities of special educational needs provision in England's educational landscape.

In a survey conducted by an education company, SENDCOs and school leaders across the country provided insights into their personal experiences and perceptions of the current state of SEND regulations and provision. The findings paint a stark picture of the strains felt within the educational community, with many professionals expressing vulnerability and exposure due to escalating needs and insufficient resources. This shared experience highlights the need for collective action and support.

According to government statistics, over 1.5 million pupils are now classified as having special educational needs, placing a significant burden on schools to meet their diverse needs adequately. The survey revealed that two-thirds of SENDCOs feel that current regulations leave them vulnerable, highlighting the urgent need for additional support and guidance in managing SEND provision effectively.

However, while feelings of exposure were prevalent among SENDCOs, there were notable discrepancies in perceptions between SENDCOs and other senior leaders within schools. While 65% of SENDCOs reported feeling exposed, only 47% of senior leaders shared the same sentiment, indicating a disconnect in understanding and awareness of the challenges faced by SENDCOs.

Among the top concerns cited by senior leaders were challenges from parents/carers, constrained resources, and the difficulty of balancing SEND priorities with other strategic school initiatives. SENDCOs, on the other hand, identified a lack of resourcing within schools for SEND provision and challenges in securing support from external agencies.

One of the most pressing issues highlighted in the survey is the high workload and lack of support, which contribute to the lack of SENDCO retention. Factors such as emotional trauma, insufficient funds, and workload were identified as key drivers behind SENDCO turnover rates, posing a significant threat to the continuity and quality of SEND provision.

The survey also revealed gaps in knowledge and understanding of SEND among school staff, with some senior leaders admitting to limited expertise in supporting children with SEND. This highlights the need for enhanced training and support to ensure that all staff members are equipped to meet SEND pupils' needs effectively.

The findings highlight the urgent need for immediate and substantial additional support, training, and funding to address the multifaceted challenges facing SENDCOs and senior school leaders. As the number of children classified with SEND continues to rise, it is imperative that schools receive the necessary resources and support to provide inclusive and effective education for all students. The time for action is now.

Sam Preston

SSS Learning Safeguarding Director


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