SENCOs overloaded with needlessly complicated admin

New research reveals that three-quarters (74%) of Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) are being pulled away from supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), to fulfil overcomplicated administrative demands and unrelated duties during allocated ‘SENCO’ time.
The report, conducted by Bath Spa University and nasen, found that time-consuming Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan needs assessment requests, and complex paperwork requirements from local authorities, are preventing them from being able to carry out their role effectively.

The lack of consistency in practice and clarity of process across Local Authorities was highlighted as a key driver behind the unnecessary weight of administration, as well as moves to leave the profession.
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 50% of SENCOs said they had been allocated the same time as the previous year to facilitate the role – but also faced more pressure from senior leaders.
Only 17% of SENCOs stated that they had been allocated more dedicated time to carry out their role, in comparison to the previous academic year.

Furthermore, two-thirds (67%) 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.”

Dr Adam Boddison, Chief Executive at nasen added: “We were delighted to work on this joint project with Bath Spa University, further expanding on last year’s report. These findings ignite an important discussion around the additional demands on SENCOs, and highlights the need to re-define their role, as well as reduce paperwork and provide greater support with administration.”

The report makes a number of recommendations, including specific points in response to the Timpson Review on Exclusions, which are made in relation to the development of the SENCO role at a national and local level.

The report recommends a review of SEND Code of Practice in relation to SENCO role and the provision for children, and also recommends the development of consistent, effective SEN provision nationally.