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SEND• read

20th September 2019

How to become a special needs teacher

Special needs, or SEND, teachers work with pupils who require extra support to reach their full educational potential due to a learning or physical disability. SEND teachers are relied upon to identify individual needs and to be responsible for creating a safe, stimulating, and supportive learning environment, for either small groups of pupils or entire classes.

SEND teachers in the UK will typically work with pupils who have the same or similar SEND requirements, which could be:

  • Sensory impairments
  • Physical disabilities
  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Learning difficulties (such as dyslexia)
  • Autism
  • Social, emotional, and/or mental health needs

As a SEND teacher, you will typically work in a mainstream school with SEND pupils or in a specialised school, though you may also work in a Pupil Referral Unit or another location. Special schools will have more advanced resources to assist SEND pupils with their day-to-day needs and learning. To be able to use these specialised resources, you might be required to undertake extra training.

How do I become a SEND teacher in the UK?

All SEND teachers are required to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and mainstream teaching experience. You can get QTS by taking a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree, or a BA or BSc with QTS, or the international equivalent. If you are already a graduate, you can take a PGCE with QTS course, such as the Engage Teacher Training Programme. If you are already a qualified teacher in Canada, you can take an assessment route to Qualified Teacher Status once we have secured your role in the UK.

All teacher training courses in the UK have a SEND component to them so all teachers are equipped to teach pupils with special needs or disabilities.

If you want to teach in a special school for pupils with a specific need, you may also have to learn specialist skills. These skills could include learning to teach Braille for pupils with visual impairments, or sign language for those with hearing impairments. Some schools also require the use of specialist equipment, such as hydrotherapy pools or special communication devices. You can undertake extra training either within a special school or with a specialised training provider to gain the skills needed to fulfill your role.

Getting your job in the UK

At Engage, our first step in helping you make the move to the UK is to help you find your teaching position. We can do this by flying you to the UK to participate in our award-winning iday event. (You will meet and interview with multiple SEND-specific schools in the UK, with Engage covering the cost of your flights and accommodation for the week.)

If you are unable to attend a physical iday event, we can arrange for you to attend a ‘virtual iday’, where we will match your goals to various special schools in the UK and arrange for you to interview with them via video conferencing software.

Whatever you choose, we will provide you with interview preparation and advice, and we will give you feedback after your interview has taken place. Your dedicated Engage consultant will be on hand at any time to assist you with any questions.

SEND teaching in numbers:

  1. SEND teachers can earn an extra £2,149 to £4,242, called a SEND allowance
  2. There are 1,256 special schools in the UK
  3. The UK has 16,700 SEND teachers
  4. There are about 253,000 children with a Health & Care Plan in the UK

SEND Careers with Engage

If you would like a new role teaching in a SEND setting in the UK on a permanent, long-term or short-term basis, full-time or part-time, our expert SEND team will be able to find the perfect role for you at one of our fantastic partner schools.

Teachers and support staff who work with Engage have spent over 700,000 hours in more than 3,400 vacancies in SEND schools, changing lives and meeting the various and often complex needs of SEND pupils. Whether you have years of SEND experience, or you’re just starting out, find out how you can have an impact by registering today. Your own personal SEND consultant will work with you hand in hand to find your dream job in a SEND vacancy.

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