Special educational needs (SEN) teacher

Special educational needs (SEN) teachers work with children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities.

Average salary (a year)

£26,000 Starter


£65,250 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

36 to 38 term time

You could work

evenings occasionally

How to become a Special educational needs (SEN) teacher

You can get into this role through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You can do a Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a degree in a subject that relates to the National Curriculum. You can go into teaching after graduation, if your course includes Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

If you have a degree in a relevant subject, without QTS, you can apply for either:

  • a postgraduate teacher training course at a university
  • a QTS qualification whilst doing paid work in a school

Most teaching courses have sections on teaching children with special educational needs.

GOV UK has further details on university and school-based postgraduate courses.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above, including English and maths
  • GCSE science at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) for primary school teaching
  • 2 A levels or equivalent
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information


You can get into this role through a higher apprenticeship in teaching, if you have a relevant degree.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English and maths
  • GCSE science at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) for primary school teaching
  • a degree in a relevant subject

More information


You could work towards this role by starting as a teaching assistant and doing a part-time foundation degree or degree. You could progress onto a postgraduate teaching course which includes qualified teacher status.

Volunteering and experience

You'll also need experience of working with young people through paid work or volunteering at a school, youth club or on a holiday scheme.

Do-it also has more information on voluntary opportunities in your area.

Direct application

Qualified teachers can get additional training to teach pupils with special educational needs. Many local education authorities provide courses for teachers working in the field.

More information

Career tips

Most independent schools prefer qualified teachers, but it's not essential.

Further information

Get Into Teaching has more information on funding and careers in teaching.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • knowledge of English language
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to create the best conditions for learning or teaching new things
  • being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

To teach pupils with hearing impairment, vision impairment or multi-sensory impairment, you'll need further specialist qualifications.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your duties could include:

  • teaching national curriculum subjects
  • helping pupils develop self-confidence, independence and abilities
  • preparing lessons and teaching materials
  • marking and assessing work
  • working with medical staff, therapists and psychologists
  • talking to parents and carers about a child's progress
  • attending meetings, statutory reviews and training workshops
  • organising outings, social activities and sporting events

Working environment

You could work at a pupil referral unit, at a special needs school or at a school.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

You could become the SEN co-ordinator or head of department. At a special needs school, you could become deputy head or headteacher.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Teaching Apprenticeship

  • Wage : To be agreed upon appointment
  • Location: Tunbridge Wells TN2 4PY

Courses In England

Access to Education and Childhood Studies

  • Start date: 03 September 2019
  • Location: Dudley

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