Somebody (who is very excellent who works for a third sector organisation) recently asked me, "Where did you come from?" I think I'd impressed with my knowledge of sensory needs (and how it's something to consider when looking at provision for a child with autism). Now I have no doubt that there are some of you shouting with great indignation, "How can you not know that?!!?!" I feel your pain. Lots of people don't know lots of things. But it got me thinking, how do I know and how did I get to know my stuff? And the short answer is, by chance.
Obviously it is not chance that I know things about autism. It's part of my job to be up to date and I'm a natural forager for knowledge and information. However, the bigger question is how did I get to be doing the job I am doing? Whilst there is the National Senco Award for trainees it is often completed by those already in post who have been begged to do so by a desperate SLT to take on the role. I would be interested to know of any schools, experienced Sencos and/or leadership teams who have made a deliberate effort to train up someone with Senco potential. We in the role all know it is very nearly an impossible job. In fact, it's practically superhuman and I would put it alongside being a Head in its complexity, position amongst other teaching staff, and in its statutory responsibilities. But where is the preparation?
I fell into it. I was initially wary, not least because of colleagues mouthing 'poisoned chalice' at me across the staffroom. I absolutely love it now but that is beside the point. I would like to pass the baton on to someone better than me, someone who already knows something about something. Larger schools may have the luxury of creating assistant Senco roles but if this isn't possible, how does one identify and support someone with leadership experience and potential: who has a knack for both teaching and learning and pastoral; who can take a battering from frustrated parents and still come up for air; who thinks paperwork isn't always a bad thing; who can be a coach and mentor to experienced and overworked staff; who can adopt the manner of a rhinoceros when dealing with ADHD diagnosis pathways; who can champion the needs of the most vulnerable and complex (and wonderful) children. If you are a Senco, where did you come from and who will be your heir? Quite frankly, I think it's too important to leave to chance.