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Special educational needs (SEN) teacher

Special educational needs (SEN) teachers work with children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities.

Annual Salary

£27,984 to £46,083

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 45 term time

You could work: evenings; occasionally

Future employment

There will be 7% more Special educational needs (SEN) teacher jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

You will:

  • plan lessons and prepare teaching materials
  • teach whole class lessons, work with small groups and support pupils individually
  • help pupils develop self-confidence, independence and skills for life
  • manage pupils' behaviour, motivate and encourage them to learn
  • mark and assess work
  • take registers and write reports

You'll sometimes also:

  • work with specialist teaching services, medical staff, therapists and psychologists
  • talk to parents and carers about their children's progress
  • attend meetings, statutory reviews and training workshops
  • organise outings, school social activities and sporting events
  • run training sessions for other teaching staff on special needs issues

Working environment

You could work at a school, at a special needs school or at a pupil referral unit.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly

You can do an undergraduate degree that leads to qualified teacher status (QTS), for example:

  • Bachelor of Education (BEd)
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) with QTS
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc) with QTS

You can also complete a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE), if you have a first degree without QTS. This is a common choice and can be done at university or on a school-based training programme.

There are more training options if you want to change career or specialise in teaching certain subjects.

Most teaching courses include options on teaching children with special educational needs.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths
  • GCSE science at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) for primary school teaching
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
For more information

You can get into this career through a postgraduate teaching apprenticeship, if you have a degree.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths
  • GCSE science at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) for primary school teaching
  • a degree for a teaching apprenticeship
For more information

You could start as a teaching assistant and do a part-time degree. From there, you can move onto a postgraduate teaching course to qualify as a teacher.

Volunteering and work experience

You'll find it helpful to get some experience of working with young people with special educational needs or disabilities through paid work or volunteering at a school, youth club or on a holiday scheme.

Do IT has more information on volunteering opportunities in your area.

Direct application

If you're a qualified teacher, you can get extra training to teach pupils with special educational needs. Many local education authorities offer courses for teachers who want to do this.

You can find out more about developing your skills for working with pupils with special educational needs from Get Into Teaching.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

You can attend train to teach events before you apply to get advice about the profession, the different training routes and funding. You can attend events in person and online.

You can find out more about developing your skills for working with pupils with special educational needs from National Association for Special Educational Needs and Get Into Teaching.

Professional and industry bodies

You could become a member of National Association for Special Educational Needs to help with professional development.

Further information

You can discover more about how to become a teacher from Get Into Teaching.

You can also search for jobs through the Teaching Vacancies service.

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You could become a special needs co-ordinator (SENCO), responsible for the whole school special educational needs strategy. You could take on managerial roles like head of department, key stage co-ordinator, deputy head or headteacher.

You may be able to transfer your specialist skills and knowledge to the role of local authority special needs assessment officer.

There are opportunities to move into higher education lecturing, teacher training, private training or tuition.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to create the best conditions for learning or teaching new things
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • knowledge of psychology
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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