Following on from my previous post about succession planning and Sencos, I have been discovering at speed that there are mainstream schools out there that do not have Sencos, let along full time ones, championing the inclusion agenda within schools on a day to day basis (which is how I think it should be done).
First of all, let's talk about compliance. The Code of Practice clearly states that all schools must have a Senco who will ideally be on SLT. This is because all children have a right to access appropriate support, a curriculum to meet their needs, and provision to enable them to access learning and make progress. SEND is complex and it is right and proper that we have a specialist trained within the work place who is on hand for leaders and teachers to advise and manage provision. This is what the Senco does. They are very necessary and would be, if in good supply, a fantastic specialist layer to the profession as a whole. One of the Senco's responsibilities is to be a mentor to teachers, guiding and researching for the teachers within a school - don't just take my word for it, google senco and mentor.
Secondly, and unsurprisingly, given the above, Sencos have to be qualified teachers. Somebody in a meeting recently pontificated about this. 'Why is it that Sencos, above all others, have to be qualified. How strange?...' It may seem something of an anomaly, especially given our (worryingly) fluid and multi-farious qualification route-map. It is not even a requirement that head teachers have to have QTS.
There is good reason. It is, in the first instance, made explicit, I believe, due to the fact that historically, SEND has fallen at the door of teaching assistants (many of whom have worked heroically and brilliantly within their schools) or other support staff e.g. a pastoral team member. However, quite rightly, it has too late been concluded that the educational provsion for the most vulnerable students should be led by the most qualified - hence the requirement for QTS. It is a means of driving this point home - Sencos have to be the best, leading from the front; not the ones who pick up the pieces.
Additionally, returning to the idea of the Senco being a mentor and advisor for teachers, I personally would find it pretty rich as a teacher, being told how to do things by someone who hadn't cut their teeth on the shop floor. If Sencos are to be specialists within their settings, they should be qualified to the hilt and more. Many, thankfully, are.
If your school does not have a qualified teacher as a Senco then it is not compliant. Many people surprisingly do not know. Now you do.
More on SEND, compliance and Code of Practice here.
For more on what a Senco should be doing, try this.