06/06/2023  •  Blog, Career centre

How to become an SEN teacher

Are you looking for information on how to become an SEN teacher? We’ve put together a comprehensive guide, covering everything from the essential qualifications needed to the desirable skills and experience to possess.

Whether you have a background in a traditional school environment, or you’ve recently qualified, you’ll find everything you need to know to become an SEN teacher. It’s a rewarding role, where you’ll play an important part in the education and care of children with different needs.

We have covered:

  • An overview of the SEN teacher job role
  • How to become an SEN teacher
    • The qualifications you need
    • Essential experience
    • Important skills to possess
  • Career paths for SEN teachers
  • SEN job opportunities at Liquid Personnel

The role of an SEN teacher

As an SEN teacher, you’ll prepare and deliver lessons, assess work, and directly assist students with their academic and social needs. You’ll usually have smaller classes than in mainstream teaching, working with children and young people needing additional learning support.

Within the role, you’ll support the welfare of your students, helping them to reach their full potential. This can include adapting the curriculum and learning environment to remove any learning barriers. It also involves ensuring students have access to the necessary resources they need.

As an SEN teacher, you have additional freedom in how you deliver learning. This is because you need to accommodate the individual needs of your students. You’re responsible for helping your students feel secure and content, providing them with a positive experience that allows them to thrive.

How to become an SEN teacher

There are specific steps you’ll need to take to become an SEN teacher. You can pursue it straight from university or after gaining experience in traditional teaching roles.

Jobs can be found in SEN schools or mainstream schools, within either classrooms or dedicated units. This work can also be based in independent schools, learning support teams, young offender institutions, children’s homes, and hospital schools.

You’re typically employed by a local authority (LA). However, you can also be self-employed or freelance as an SEN teacher.

What qualifications do I need?

There are various university courses that will give you your qualified teacher status (QTS). At undergraduate level, these include:

  • Bachelor of Education (BEd)
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) with QTS
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc) with QTS

If you have a degree in another subject, a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) can also lead you to QTS. You can also apply for a teaching apprenticeship.

Most teaching degrees give you the opportunity to teach children with special education needs. You also have the option to volunteer in order to gain the experience you need to become an SEN teacher.

There is an additional qualification you’ll need if you’re teaching children with visual, hearing, or multi-sensory impairment. This is known as the mandatory qualification in sensory impairment (MQSI).

What experience do I need?

You can look to become an SEN teacher after you’ve gained your qualifications. It can increase your employability if you’ve had experience working with SEN students. Many teachers move into SEN teaching after working in a mainstream primary or secondary school where they support SEN students.

Another option that can help to enhance your prospects is by contacting schools to see whether you can undertake work experience. If you’re not yet qualified, you could pursue a teaching assistant role to gain experience. 

Browse our SEN job vacancies

At Liquid, we have a wide range of SEN jobs available. Browse our vacancies and apply today.

What skills and qualities do I need?

There are a range of skills and qualities that will help you to succeed in becoming an SEN teacher. As well as possessing your core teaching knowledge and abilities, you’ll need to have:

Strong communication skills

Good communication skills can help you to tailor your teaching to meet each student’s needs. It means you can share information in a way that is manageable and understandable to each child that you work with. Clear and compassionate communication can also help to build trust. This in turn can encourage your students to engage, ask questions, and express any concerns with you.

When you become an SEN teacher, you’ll also regularly have to collaborate with different professionals and parents. The ability to communicate can make sure that everyone is on the same page with regards to a student’s needs and progress.


Flexibility is valuable when becoming an SEN teacher. Your students will likely have different learning styles, so you need to be able to adapt your approach and teaching methods. As your students – and their needs – grow and develop, you need to be able to adapt to these changes too.


SEN teachers need a high level of empathy. As the students you work with face challenges, it is important that you’re able to understand and create a supportive learning environment for them. Empathy can also help to build trust, as students feel understood, which can support them in their learning journey.

Strong observation skills

Good observational skills are essential for a number of reasons when you become an SEN teacher. They allow you to pinpoint specific needs that a student has, which may not always be communicated verbally. They also allow you to effectively monitor and keep track of how all children are responding to each lesson. This enables you to recognise their progress and when they need additional support.

Good organisation skills

Good organisation is needed in order for you to be able to cater to the needs and requirements of each student. Each student will have specific goals as well as support, strategies, and resources to be used to help them reach these targets. Organisation is key to being able to implement and track the progress that each child is making in achieving their goals.

A positive attitude

Positivity is essential in all teachers. It can be contagious, motivating, and inspiring, helping you to create a positive environment where students feel comfortable learning. It is also something that can strengthen the relationships that you have with students, parents, and colleagues. Positivity can also help you with resilience during any challenging and stressful times you encounter.

Career paths for SEN teachers

When you’re thinking about becoming an SEN teacher, it is important to research the career path ahead of you. Here are some of the options that are available:

  • Special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO)
  • Head of a department
  • Key stage coordinator
  • Deputy head
  • Headteacher
  • Special needs assessment officer
  • Teacher training and tutoring

There is plenty of choice and room for progression during your SEN teaching career.

When deciding on the right path, it is important to do your research. For each potential future role, look at the primary duties, qualifications needed, essential experience, salaries, and required skills. This can help you decide on what would be right for you. It also gives you the opportunity to recognise the steps to take to prepare you for your future.

SEN teaching roles with Liquid

At Liquid, we currently have a wide range of SEN teaching roles at leading organisations around the UK.  

With a wealth of experience in the sector, you’ll benefit from the industry knowledge of our highly trained team as we look to match you with your perfect role.

Register with Liquid online and we will get in touch to discuss the opportunities we have available.

Register today
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