'I will be "fighting" even more for pupils with SEN': SENCOs' role predictions in the changing English policy context

Sue Pearson*, Rafael Mitchell, Maria Rapti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The Coalition Government's 'Green Paper' (DfE 2011) proposes a systemic overhaul of services for pupils with special educational needs in England, with increased parental choice of provision and 'sharper accountability' (p. 67) in schools. Deadlines for various stages of this reform have not been met, and its final nature remains uncertain. This paper reveals SENCOs' insights into their changing role in this turbulent policy context. This is achieved through the thematic analysis of 227 responses to an 'open-ended' question in the national Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) Survey 2012. Findings from this sample indicate that SENCOs predict that schools in England will become more inclusive, with greater shared responsibility for achievement for all, and SENCOs' increased involvement in staff training and other whole school capacity-building activities. Respondents predict a greater partnership with parents, for whom they will provide advice and links to other services. They foresee their reduced involvement in direct teaching and an intensification of their work in other ways, especially in terms of paperwork associated with pupil tracking and other accountability measures. These changes are anticipated against a backdrop of resource cuts, requiring SENCOs to show increasing self-reliance and imagination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Research in Special Educational Needs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Accountability
  • Inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Parental involvement
  • Policy


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