Annabelle teaches maths in a local primary school. She has to teach a class full of student every day. One day she notices one of her new pupils is turning up with incomplete homework and failing regularly in the class tests. Later she further identified that the child is not quite the social type. And also unable to follow through her lessons in class.
Annabelle wondered whether the child is just being a child or her teaching method is not appropriate for the kid. She decided to do some research and talk to other teachers and her parents.
Later she learned from the parents that the little kid has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Annabelle was so heartbroken thinking of the fact that kids like her might struggle through the rest of their life if proper education and skills are not provided. She immediately decided to do something and prepare for a career in SEN Teaching.
Are you like Annabelle? Do you feel you can do more with your life?
Do you want to make a difference in a SEN child’s life? If so, let’s dive in and discover the skills and qualifications required to become a SEN Teacher.
Special Educational Needs Pupils on the rise in the UK
Special Educational Needs Teaching (SEN) roles are one of those modern superheroes professions to be in. The number of pupils with SEN increased to 1.32 million pupils in 2019, 14.9% of the total pupils.
The challenge in SEN Teaching profession is one of the reasons why it is more rewarding and provide more job satisfaction than a typical teaching job. After all, when you are working with children with disadvantages and seeing them achieve things beyond what they thought was possible is incredible.
Qualifications required to be a SEN Teacher
Apart from having genuine empathy and interest to make the lives of the disadvantaged children, you must possess some academic credentials to vouch for your knowledge and skills to teach special educational needs children. There is no single direction to achieve them, you can gain the knowledge and qualification in the following ways.
A Degree with Qualified Teacher Status
To become a SEN teacher in most schools in the UK, you must be a Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), holder. Although, there are some non-maintained schools that don’t require the QTS.
To achieve QTS you should have a bachelors degree (B.Sc./BA/BEd) completed successfully.
In addition to the QTS, if you are to teach students with vision or hearing impairment or any multi-sensory disabilities, you must have to acquire the Mandatory Qualifications for specialist teachers. It imposed to ensure providing the needs of the children and young people with sensory impairment.
You can find the specifications of this qualification and a list of approved providers who offer courses leading to the mandatory qualification here.
Disclosure and Barring Service
Postgraduate Certificate in Education training
There are further training opportunities once you have acquired a bachelors degree to specialise in SEN Teaching. You can pick a training course or PGCE degree to enhance your academic knowledge and provide you with opportunities to grow further in your career.
Further Training Options in SEN Teaching
There are various online courses available on SEN Teaching to help you acquire and understand various theoretical and practical skills required in working with children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN). They are also great for qualified teachers who want to take additional training to teach pupils with special educational needs.
They also conduct an assessment test upon completion, and if you pass, you would get a certification of your knowledge which will boost your resume and set you apart from your peers.
If you are unsure about your qualification or the path to qualification, the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (NARIC) provides information and advice on qualification in the UK.
Skills Required To Be A SEN Teacher
According to David Goleman, the author of the international bestseller book Emotional Intelligence, empathy is basically putting yourself in another person’s shoes and understand their emotion and thought process.
It is the skill or ability to understand another person’s feelings and perspective and it is a no-brainer that, to work with disadvantaged children and youth and help them cope with their life better, one must have a developed sense of empathy.
2. Communication skills
Ability to communicate clearly and comprehensively is crucial for a SEN Teacher or as a matter of fact, interpersonal communication skill is one of the basic skills required to be in any teaching profession.
In addition to academic knowledge, SEN pupils require extra attention and focused education to help them cope with their growth seamlessly. And you would be responsible to impart such knowledge in a most understandable way.
They will also require emotional support and hence require you to understand them, verbally and through their actions. You should be able to generate a sense of a safe environment for them to reach you without hesitation.
3. Teamwork skills
Ensuring the special needs education to a SEN pupil is a collaborative effort. For instance, as a SEN Teacher, you have to be in regular touch with other teachers, the parents, and healthcare personnel.
You will often have to collaborate with social workers and cognitive therapists to ensure the well-being of the kids.
4. Organisational skills
Organisational skills are a combination of mental and physical skills. They are considered an essential part of any competitive professional of any trade.
Especially while working with kids with special educational needs, things are supposed to get messy and these skill sets will help bring some order in your professional and personal life.
5. Adaptability and Flexibility skills
Adaptability is an important skill if you are to succeed in the teaching profession.
It is mostly because the kids are peculiar, they have their own strengths and weakness, like any of the adult human beings. To influence and motivate them, you have to change your approach and strategies from time to time and pupil to pupil.
6. Administrative skills
As you will be working in an organised structure of a school or educational institute, you will be required to carry out some administrative duties on a regular basis.
From regular reporting to maintaining logbooks and inventories, and to perform those tasks smoothly without losing focus on your teaching responsibilities you must acquire the essential administrative skills.
These skills will also help you move up into the administration, to a role with more responsibility.
7. Behaviour Management skills
Schools are the most important phase in human life in terms of character building and cognitive development. And you are the person responsible to carry out the moulding. The academic education is never enough and the nature of any child makes it difficult.
Even more challenging when you are working with pupils with special educational needs. You have to confront, explain and educate them on different aspects of life with patience. This will come down to your dedication and ability to manage and influence behaviour.
A good understanding of child psychology, how they perceive things and how they make decisions will make your job a lot easier.
8. Story Building skills
Teaching kids socials skills is another important responsibility of a SEN Teacher. It is believed that these skills and knowledge are received by pupils most efficiently when explained by example or stories.
These are strength-based teaching strategy that helps to develop greater social understanding in kids. If you can develop some story building skills and have adept knowledge of the power of visuals, you will be a favourite among the pupils in no time. Not to mention your effectiveness as a SEN Teacher.
SEN teaching certainly isn’t for everyone – but for the right person with required skills and qualification, working with SEN pupils can be a tremendously rewarding profession. You would be responsible to inspire and shape up their life for future obstacles, at the same learn from them.
If you have genuine empathy and if you are serious to pursue your dream career as a SEN Teacher start working to build towards the role and make a difference.