Recommendations for NASENCO

Recommendations for NASENCO

Abigail Gray navigates the reviews and reports to read and digest for SENCOs.

As an educator it’s easy for desks to become home to huge stacks of important material; reviews and reports to read and digest.  Despite every effort, the stack often changes shape but fails to get any smaller. The never-ending march of change is a constant feature of a career in education.  It never stops.  In some ways that is a good thing, signifying our constant desire to improve but the downside is that it can make it incredibly hard to maintain a feeling of confidence and competence. I don’t doubt that this has a direct impact on the wellbeing of educational professionals.  The antidote to this can be the opportunity to take part in regular training.  Spending time as a learner offers two things; some respite from any anxiety about competence and time to pause, to think and talk with colleagues.  Unsurprisingly, the DFE’s 2017 report on the effectiveness of NASENCO (National Award for SENCOS) training identified that sharing ideas and networking was one of the most highly valued aspects of the experience. For NASENCO tutors that stack of new material, while still growing, is a daily source of stimulation, inspiration and interest.  Hopefully this newsletter will signpost some of the highlights from the last few months in SEND and one or two things to watch out for. 

Growing concern about the mental health of school children and indeed of teachers provides the backdrop for the government’s plans to fund training for Designated Senior Leaders for Mental Health (DSLMH).  Unlike SENCOs, schools are not obliged to create and fill this post but rather incentivized to do so by the training offer.  From the lengthy description of the new DSLMH role it’s hard to see how these two school wide roles can fail to intersect on some level, given that Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) is a category of SEN.  An opportunity for strategic collaboration perhaps. There is sure to be some debate in both staff rooms and the training room as the scheme rolls out over the next 5 years. 

There seems to have been a very mixed response to Ofsted’s Draft Inspection Framework.  The Chartered College refer to it as ‘a step in the right direction, with a focus on the quality of education, a broad and balanced curriculum…” However, from a SEND perspective, I read the response from the Driver Youth Trust with some interest and found myself agreeing with the points made about the need to address issues of literacy and curriculum access beyond early years.   Of special interest to SENCOs are the Local Authority SEND inspections, currently taking place.  The news so far has not been very encouraging for Authorities with just over half of those inspected (as of April 2019) being found wanting and issued with a “Written Statement of Action”.  It’s well worth keeping an eye on this unfolding situation and indeed reading the report for your local area if available. 

The Timpson Review of School Exclusions was published recently.  Given that the rate of permanent exclusions for pupils with an EHCP is more than 5 times that of those pupils with no SEND, this report is going to make for essential reading. 

Additional opportunities and resources

Opportunities for support and training abound this term.  For those in the North, the TES SEN Show in Manchester on May 9th and 10th is a low cost essential and quickly followed by NASEN Live in Birmingham on July 12th. It’s[DB1]  almost impossible to leave these events without new ideas, new contacts and new hope.  On the subject of The National Association of Special Educational Needs (NASEN), most of you know NASEN, and are likely members, but you may not have checked out the new SENCO Induction Pack available via the SEND Gateway. It contains essential information in an entirely digestible form.  I really liked the preparation checklist for those new to the role (or indeed new to a setting) that not only covers key documentation and legislation but a list of who you need to reach out to and meet.  

@sencochat (a regular SENCO discussion on Twitter) has developed a great networking idea, they are currently offering a Buddy programme in which they pair up SENCOs for professional chat. Well worth a look.


Abigail Gray is a Tutor and Education Consultant working with Best Practice Network on its NASENCO qualification.  Further information is available here