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SEND• 3 Min read

11th August 2021

How Do I Get Into Working with Special Needs Children?

If you have an aspiration to work with children with special needs, then there’s likely to be a role for you in the sector. There are staff shortages in many areas of SEND, and attracting dedicated, passionate staff to support children to access education is essential in both mainstream and specialist schools. There are lots of different ways that people work with children with additional needs, from one-on-one learning support in mainstream schools to social, personal and education care in a dedicated SEND setting or working with young offenders. Here’s our guide to some of the roles available and how you can kick-start your SEND career.


What Type Of Person Should Work In SEND?

It takes all sorts of people to provide the type of specialist care that children with widely varying needs require. Helping a child to thrive is a rewarding experience and that reward tends to drive most people who seek out a career in SEND. There are other types of people that can really make a positive impact on children’ lives – those from performing arts or theatre backgrounds have the physical and mental skills to create lessons full of movement and excitement for children who might struggle to engage in traditional teaching methods. As long as you are patient and caring with creative problem-solving skills and an ability to connect with all sorts of different people, you could have a truly impactful career in SEND. You’ll be required to advocate for children with a wide variety of difficulties in accessing learning, so you’ll need an open mind and a true belief that all children should have the same opportunities in life.


What Qualifications Do You Need?

Although having experience in schools will help you in the interview process, you don’t need to have any specific qualifications to work in a support role. This could be one-on-one support for a child with Autism – helping them to move around the school and take part in activities, or it could be supporting small groups of young people who are unable to access mainstream education for other reasons. There are lots of different support roles and every single one is different. Taking part in specialised training and CPD will give you an advantage – start off with some of Creative Education’s SEND courses – Engage candidates get free access to their platform. You’ll also find other training opportunities available through your agency or the schools that you work with – Team Teach is just one example of SEND-focused training that we run, teaching strategies for positive behaviour management in SEND settings – find out more here!


How Do I Get Started?

Gaining experience working with young people is your first step to working with children with special needs. Knowing how to interact with children, and being able to garner a level of respect and mutual understanding might come naturally to you, but learning to better understand the needs of young people through volunteering work will also look great on your CV. Once you got the passion and some relevant experience, you can start applying for support roles. Of course, you’ll have to pass various levels of compliance, as with working with any vulnerable people. Look for an agency with a dedicated SEND team, they’ll already have connections with schools and be able to make suggestions to improve your prospects if you are new to SEND. At Engage, our SEND team have over 40 years of experience in teaching and leadership, so are perfectly placed to help you find your perfect role!


How Can I Progress My Career?

Although you need a degree to work as a teacher, there are many options for progression for those without degree-level qualifications. Ask around in your school, or ask your recruitment consultant to point you in the direction of suitable training and CPD that can grow your knowledge of specialist SEND topics. Keeping an ear to the ground for opportunities, as well as signing up to online networking platforms like Linkedin will keep you in the loop both with developments and potential vacancies. Keep in touch with your recruitment consultant too – they’ll have a good idea of your skills and will be able to suggest roles you might not have been aware of that would suit your skills. As with any career in the education sector, regularly updating your knowledge and training will keep you ahead of the pack when it comes to progression.


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