A Beginner’s Guide to SEN Teaching

Blog Cover Image

Are you passionate about teaching? Do you dream of inspiring students while forming a close bond with them at the same time? Then you should strongly consider looking for a SEN teaching job.

What is SEND/SEN?

SEN and SEND are teaching terms you may have come across, but there is more to them than you may think. SEN stands for Special Educational Needs and SEND is a more inclusive term that stands for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Teaching SEND students may sound intimidating, but this article is here to answer all your questions and explain just how rewarding SEND teaching jobs can be.

Do I Qualify For A SEND/SEN Position?

SEND and SEN teaching candidates are often employed based on personal attributes, rather than just teaching experience and related qualifications. You do not necessarily need to have any classroom-based experience to qualify as a SEN Teaching Assistant. However, roles such as HLTA (Higher Level Teaching Assistant), SEN Cover Supervisor, SEN Instructor and SEN teacher may require relevant skills and qualifications. Many SEN schools will internally support the progression of the right candidate, helping them to upskill through the ranks from Teaching Assistant to SEN Teacher. As such, a career in SEND teaching is something most people can do – especially with the help of Simply Education.

What Are The Benefits of SEND & SEN Teaching Jobs?

Personal Growth

Teaching students with different learning abilities gives you a sense of compassion and satisfaction like no other job. As you learn about the different types of special needs you will also begin to change the way you teach and how you relay information to your students.

Moments That Matter

SEN students learn in different ways and every small victory becomes a major accomplishment for both the teacher and the student. It is very easy to form bonds with SEND students as they become more comfortable around their teachers and learn to trust them. For example, Autistic students who resist contact with others may approach a teacher they trust for assistance. These meaningful moments help to make any form of progress achieved by your students feel like a meaningful accomplishment.

Great Job Prospects

There is a lot of room for career growth as a SEN teacher as the skills you learn are transferable to so many different career paths.

Hours & Classes

SEN teachers and SEN teaching assistants often teach smaller classes and have shorter working days than mainstream schools, but this can vary depending on your role and the school you are working for.

What Attributes Are SEND/SEN Employers Looking For?

To answer that question, it’s important to firstly understand the different ways SEND students are grouped:

PRU/SEMH Provisions

PRU stands for Pupil Referral Unit and is an alternative education provision for children who are unable to attend a school for various reasons including short and long-term illnesses. SEMH stands for Social, Emotional and Mental Health and is a provision for learners who need more dedicated or focused support for their social, emotional and mental health development. Typical characteristics of SEMH students include anxiety, frustration, uncooperative and anti-social behaviour.

SEND teaching candidates working with PRU and SEMH students need to be calm, nurturing, patient and understanding. Witty and light-hearted people are strong candidates, and it is crucial that the candidate is not easily offended. Ideal work experience includes former prison officers, residential care workers and teachers from challenging and intercity schools. Being able to build strong relationships is a must for these candidates and having skills in behaviour management is highly sought-after, too.


Autism is a developmental disorder that affects one’s ability to communicate and interact with others. While the severity of Autism may vary from person to person, there are some common characteristics – such as difficulty with social interactions and communications, obsessive interests and repetitive behaviours.

SEND teaching assistant and teacher candidates need to be highly structured, focused, patient and calm. Mainstream teachers and cover supervisors from secondary schools transition well to Autism-based SEN teaching positions as their experience with structuring and managing classes comes in handy when teaching Autistic students. Candidates who are good at interventions, nurturing, light-hearted and able to take a joke are better suited for teaching Autistic classes. It is very important that any SEND teaching candidate is willing to learn and be open-minded, but this is especially important when teaching Autistic students as the severity of their conditions require different levels of support and attention.


PMLD and SLD are terms for mental disabilities. PMLD stands for Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. People with PMLD are unique students with severe learning disabilities and other disabilities that significantly hinder their ability to communicate and be independent. PMLD students may have severe difficulties hearing, speaking, seeing or moving.

SLD stands for Severe Learning Disabilities and refers to IQ and cognitive affecting conditions. This can include a range of other disabilities, including their medical conditions and sensory impairment.

When teaching SEND students under the PMLD/SLD category, candidates should ideally be nurturing, caring, sensitive and patient. Fantastic communication skills are essential, and candidates must be open to learning various communication strategies, especially visual communication strategies (such as basic sign language). Nursery nurses and childcare practitioners make for strong candidates for SEND teaching jobs in this category.

Register with Simply Education Today!

Simply Education can help you find a SEN teaching position that is a perfect fit for you. Around 75% of candidates placed in SEN teaching jobs by Simply Education become permanent employees, and many of them have secured internal funding to progress their SEND career within their setting. Simply Education goes above and beyond for registered candidates by offering top-notch continuous professional development services and in-depth training. Register with Simply Education now to find your dream teaching role!

Read our latest education blogs

Posted Friday, 18th November 2022
Read More
Grid Item Image

Great Teachers from Fiction & The Lessons They Taught Us

Posted Friday, 4th November 2022
Read More
Grid Item Image

Advanced Tips for Identifying Barriers to Learning

Posted Friday, 28th October 2022
Read More
Grid Item Image

The Top Reasons to Work in Special Education

Posted Friday, 7th October 2022
Read More
Grid Item Image

Healthy Living Tips for Teachers