Rewarding Careers – Special Educational Needs (SEN) Teacher
Sam Wilson, June 24, 2014
The role of a Special Educational Needs (SEN) teacher is extremely varied, requires specific training and tends to throw up different challenges on a daily basis. However, the high level of job satisfaction could prove to be a more than adequate reward for the groundwork needed to obtain this career.
The role involves working specifically with children and young adults who find learning more difficult than others, to aid them with their subjects as well as personal development. These individuals could include those who are physically disabled, emotionally vulnerable or have behavioural or speech difficulties, amongst other disabilities.
What Makes It So Rewarding?
Meghan Mathis explains why being an SEN teacher can provide even more job satisfaction than a typical teaching job:
‘Often the students are not sure they are capable of learning. When you help a student who thinks they can’t learn to achieve things far beyond what they ever dreamed possible – you feel like you can fly.’
A genuine interest in both the education and welfare of disadvantaged learners of many ages is crucial. Without this you could negatively affect the future of your pupils, but on the flipside, with passion and enthusiasm for the role you can make a really positive difference to the lives of young people. You will need to manage large classes, organise suitable lessons and deal with challenging behaviour. This requires plenty of patience, warmth and, importantly, a sense of humour: being able to connect with your pupils is a key aspect of the job. Depending on your particular role, you may also be required to work individually with specific pupils.
Salary & Entry Requirements
Salaries range from £21,588-£31,552 a year depending on location, for example in central London the range is £27,000-£36,387. As well as a postgraduate qualification and significant work experience, to qualify as a SEN teacher you will need Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). To achieve this you need to study for a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Or you can qualify through TeachFirst: a graduate scheme which offers a two-year placement at a school whilst you’re studying for a PGCE. Finally, it’s often essential to possess more than two years post-qualification teaching experience before taking up a SEN teaching role.
Key differences in responsibility between teacher and SEN teacher:
• Conventional teaching methods are adapted to suit the needs of pupils.
• Specialist equipment is used to stimulate interest in learning.
• Frequently liaising with fellow professionals such as educational psychologists, speech and language therapists, as well as parents of the pupils.
• In some cases, where the teacher is adequately qualified, the role could also involve teaching Braille or sign language.