SENCOs forced to sacrifice time supporting children due to a mountain of paperwork

Bath Spa University, in collaboration with special needs charity Nasen, is urgently calling for a reduction in the amount of paperwork that is currently holding Special Educational Needs Coordinators back from doing their jobs properly.

SENCOs should have 'protected time' to enable them to fulfil their role
SENCOs should have 'protected time' to enable them to fulfil their role

A new report carried out by Bath Spa University and Nasen highlights that the bureaucracy associated with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans and local authority red tape, are preventing SENCOs from carrying out their role effectively.

In the study, The Time is Now: Addressing missed opportunities for Special Education Needs Support and coordination in our schools, the lack of consistency in practice and clarity of process across local authorities is suggested as a key driver behind the unnecessary weight of administration, as well as moves to leave the profession.

Removing barriers to effective SEND provision 

Time to strengthen the role of the SENCO

Despite a call to legalise the protection of SENCO time in The National SENCO Workload Survey, which was published by Bath Spa University, Nasen and the National Education Union (NEU) in 2018, only half of responding SENCOs said they had been allocated the same time as the previous year to facilitate the role – and now also faced more pressure from senior leaders.

Only 17 per cent of SENCOs stated that they had been allocated more dedicated time to carry out their role, in comparison to the previous academic year, while  two-thirds of those allocated ‘extra’ time, are spending it on administration tasks, instead of directly supporting children, families and teachers.

One of the key recommendations from the report is to create a single, national template for the needs assessment process and for Education, Health and Care plans.  

Dr Helen Curran, Senior Lecturer in Education: SEN at Bath Spa University, said: ‘This new research has demonstrated how SENCOs are being overloaded with needlessly complicated administrative tasks – which risks impacting on children with SEND and the level of support that they receive. We believe that SEN processes and practices across local authorities should be urgently reviewed to re-evaluate non-statutory paperwork requirements – and to develop a consistency of practice across all local authority Areas.’

Key recommendations

  • Review of SEND Code of Practice in relation to SENCO role: SENCOs should have protected time to enable the effective facilitation of their role and it should be a statutory requirement that the SENCO is a member of the school senior leadership team.
  • Review of SEND Code of Practice in relation to provision for children: The legal definition of SEN should be reviewed in light of the rapid development in sector understanding regarding neuro-diversity, as well as the changing demographic of our school population.
  • Development of consistent, effective SEN provision nationally: To develop consistency of practice across local authorities and reduce administrative demands, a single, national template should be developed for Education, Health and Care plans. 
  • Facilitation of SENCO role in the educational setting: The Department for Education should provide sufficient funding for the SENCO role for every school in the country, SENCOs should be given additional administration support and they should be placed on the leadership pay scale. 


Read the full report here



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