The number of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) has increased over the last five years. In 2022, there were 1.49 million pupils, representing 16.5% of all pupils. With the number of students that need specialised teaching increasing, 2023 has plenty of opportunities for SEN teachers and for those wanting to move into this worthwhile area of education. There are opportunities in both mainstream and specialist schools.
Working with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) is a job that requires skill, patience, and training. Although it might not be suitable for everyone, this area of education can be one of the most rewarding jobs for the right type of person. SEND enables teachers and teaching assistants to have fulfilling careers.
If you’re patient and compassionate and interested in seeing long-term results, here are five great reasons to work in SEND this year.
1. SEND is rewarding
As a special education teacher or teaching assistant, you may have a more challenging teaching job than most. Not only is there a curriculum, but you will also have to deal with more behavioural and emotional problems than in classrooms with students who don’t have diagnosed learning disabilities.
In a special education setting, you will be working with smaller classes and will often teach lessons on a one-to-one basis. This means that you can build strong relationships with your students. You will be able to see the investment of your time in nurturing them and helping them grow, more than in a standard teaching environment.
Even the smallest signs of progress are worth celebrating when working in SEN. You’ll see the same sense of achievement through your pupils, and you will witness that much greater effort has to go into those small steps of progression. Working with students over the year, you’ll be able to track the progress, however big or small, that a pupil has made over the academic term.
As a SEN educator, your definition of success might look different from that of traditional teachers. Success could be a pupil transitioning from one task to another, or making it through a day without a meltdown. However, it is not uncommon for SEN students to achieve great grades and secure places in college or university.
2. Wider networking
In the SEND environment, you’ll not only be working with students but other stakeholders, from parents and carers to other teachers and educational psychologists and counsellors, to support those in need.
Teamwork and camaraderie experienced within this area are generally not equalled within mainstream teaching, as you find yourself part of a larger community all looking to add extra value and support to students.
3. Constant learning
Working with special needs students can provide new and challenging experiences for any SEND teacher. In SEND teaching and teaching assistant roles, it’s not just students who learn. As a teacher in this area, you will pick up new skills, too. You’ll improve your interpersonal skills and communication skills, and learn how to interact with and be part of a wider team.
Physical and learning disabilities cover a broad spectrum, so every child will have different needs, and your skills will be constantly evolving.
As SEND students benefit from a structured environment, SEND teachers will need to ensure the day is accounted for - which means there’s no better way to hone your classroom management and organisational skills.
Although challenging, working in special education can also be fun, as it gives you the opportunity to be creative with how you deliver your classes. A one-size-fits-all approach is not suitable for SEND teaching. There’s an element of freedom that you won’t get with regular teaching, as special education is all about the individual child. There is an opportunity to think creatively.
4. Specialising in SEN D
As there are many conditions that result in children requiring special educational needs tuition, there is the possibility of specialising. Among the many learning difficulties encountered by students in a special education setting are:
Specific learning difficulties
Visual or hearing impairments
Social, emotional, and mental health
Speech, language, and communication needs
You have many options for growth and specialisation. For instance, if you improve your qualifications and skills, you can become a special educational needs coordinator who heads special educational needs departments in schools. Some SEND teachers become special needs officers.
5. Career development and new roles
Special education remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the main sectors of work that has seen an increase in demand for workers is the education sector.
Classroom management is more of a challenge for special education teachers, but special education work will help you become a more patient teacher and person in general. Special education opens doors to new roles.
SEND teaching roles need resilient staff and those with specific skills. These skills can be beneficial both personally and from a business perspective. There is the option for moving into supervisory or management roles like becoming a headteacher.
According to National Careers, the average salary of a special educational needs teacher at the beginning of their career is £30,384 per year. With more experience, your earnings can increase to around £48,388 per year.
Roles in further and higher education are also available, as special education requirements can surpass the age of 16. Some special education needs teachers get extra training and become lecturers in further or higher education.
Experience in SEND enhances your employability whether you choose to stay in teaching or move into a different sector.
Special or mainstream schools
Most disabled pupils and pupils with special educational needs attend mainstream schools.
No matter what settings you train and work in – whether it’s mainstream schools, special schools, or both – you’ll work with children and young people with complex needs.
A career like no other
Those working in SEND environments, not only feel fulfilled but also enjoy job security and career progression opportunities with life-long learning. Working in SEN you are making a difference in many lives. These experiences will stick with them as they grow and develop into successful adults.
To find out more, please contact Protocol Education: https://www.protocol-education.com/contact-us/ T: 020 7340 1152