Become a special needs teacher

Are you a qualified teacher who is looking for a new challenge? Do you have a willing attitude with the desire to succeed in a new environment? Then being a special needs teacher could be for you. The best part is, you don’t need any prior experience of working with SEND children to access Athona’s SEND jobs.

As an SEND (special education needs & disability) teacher you will be working closely with pupils who often need additional support and are unable to continue their education in mainstream school. The number of children in a class will be significant less than the usual and the pupils could have a range of physical disabilities, for example visual or hearing impairments or learning difficulties, ranging from mild to moderate and include autism or dyspraxia.

Apart from having QTS (qualified teacher status) and previous teaching experience in a mainstream school, you will also need to have plenty of communication skills, patience managing a classroom and the willingness to learn and train to expand on your current teaching skills.

Types of school

Sometimes, a mainstream school may not be right for a child with SEND as they cannot access the correct specialist support, but in the UK we have a number of alternative options. Special schools will support pupils from 11 years of age and can range in specialising in one of four areas; communication & interaction, cognition & learning, social, emotional & mental health and sensory & physical needs. A school can then choose to further specialise, in for example Autism or visual impairment, but the decision is entirely up to the school.

A PRU (pupil referral unit) varies slightly as it is maintained by the local authority and was created to provide dedicated education to children who have been excluded, experienced mental health issues or bullying or are suffering from a short or long term illness, so are simply unable to attend mainstream school.

Understanding SEND terminology

SEND as a sector has a lot of new terminology, that you may not have seen before in mainstream schools. Here is a breakdown of the most common used acronyms that you could come across.

AcronymDefinition
MLDMild learning difficulty
SLDSevere learning difficulty
PMLDProfound multiple learning difficulty
ADHDAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder
ASCAutism spectrum condition
VIVisually impaired
HIHearing impaired
SPLDSpecific learning difficulty
MakatonA language programme designed to provide communication to individuals who cannot communicate efficiently by speaking
SEMHSocial, emotional and mental health
EALEnglish as an additional language
EBDEmotional behavioural disorders
BSLBritish sign language
ESOLEnglish for speakers of others languages
SENDSpecial educational needs and disability
SENCOSEN co-ordinators

Training

To make sure you’re ready to take on the classroom and feel fully prepared, special education schools and pupil referral units offer a huge amount of support and access to a number of training courses, to help ensure you feel a specialist in SEND and comfortable in your new role.

Do you want to understand the world of special education needs a bit more before you commit to a job? The British Council have developed a free of charge training course to help you increase your confidence in managing a challenging classroom and build on your awareness, in just three short hours. Sign up to complete the free course here.


Interested in finding out more about becoming a SEND teacher? Speak to Athona’s specialist SEND recruiter Jess today or view our latest job opportunities here.