Being an SEN (Special Educational Needs) teacher is one of the most interesting and challenging careers paths available. You’ll take on a lot of responsibly and hard work, but it’s an incredibly rewarding job, both emotionally and financially. This article looks at what it’s like to be a special needs teacher. We examine the training required, daily activities and opportunities for career development.
A (SEN) Special Educational Needs teacher works with children that have some form of sensory, mental or behavioural disability. This means they work with some really unique kids and young people with conditions like autism, dyslexia and blindness. If you are considering this field as a possible future career path, you might find it useful to know more about the daily routine of a SEN teacher and the training and benefits involved.
Before you can get started in special needs education you first need to qualify as a regular teacher. After this you are then required to enrol in various additional courses, in things like Braille or sign language. Many Universities offer these classes combined with standard teaching qualifications in a post graduate or Master’s course. However, you can also enter the profession as an existing teacher by training whilst working.
The work of a SEN teacher involves a great deal of creativity and interaction with others. If you’re the sort of person who won’t be happy sat behind a desk or at a computer all day – this could be the job for you.
You’ll probably be working in specialist school, and on a daily basis you’ll need to come up with innovative ways to connect with your students which might involve things like role play, physical interaction, and artistic expression. The goals that students work towards tend focus around more life-based skills than a traditional curriculum. Tthis often means less marking is required, which frees up more time for lesson planning. Preparing resources plays a big role in SEN teaching and you’ll find yourself holding lots of meetings with parents, colleagues, social workers, physiotherapists and other health professionals (as developing a good understanding the students’ medical conditions is crucial). Building relationships with each of your pupils is one the most important aspects of an SEN teacher’s job and you’ll often need to find imaginative ways to reach each child. The classroom is often a lively, vibrant and happy place to be, but it can also be an emotionally and psychically draining teaching environment. Whilst the amount of marking may be smaller in SEN teaching than in regular education, there is still plenty of paper work thanks to a greater need for accountability and visibility. You may also find yourself taking specialist training classes in the evening.
Pay and career prospects
The starting salary for a special needs teacher begins at around £20,000. It can vary depending on location, but starting a teaching job in London could earn you up to £25,000. An experienced SEN teacher can earn anything up to £42,000. Becoming a head teacher is always a possibility, or you might eventually find yourself training others as a special needs coordinator or consultant.