SENCO: requirements and qualifications

Be clear which types of schools are required to appoint a special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), and what qualifications they'll need for the post.

Last reviewed on 5 September 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 1779
  1. Mainstream schools must have a SENCO
  2. Who can be a SENCO?
  3. What professional qualifications do SENCOs need?
  4. Can a SENCO work across schools?
  5. Can we appoint a part-time SENCO?

Mainstream schools must have a SENCO

You must have a designated special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) if you're: 

  • A maintained school 
  • An academy 
  • A free school
  • An alternative provision (AP) academy  
  • A pupil referral unit (PRU)
  • A maintained nursery (other early years providers are also expected to have one)

Your governing board or proprietors of your school (for academies and free schools) must make sure you have a designated SENCO in place. 

These requirements are outlined on pages 89, 92 and 108 of the SEND Code of Practice.

Other school types are also encouraged to have a SENCO

You're not required to have a SENCO if you're: 

  • An independent school 
  • An independent nursery
  • A special school
  • A 16 to 19 academy 

However, it's still recommended you have a teacher responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision. 

Our associate education expert, Lorraine Petersen, gave us this advice.

If your school is required