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What is an SEN Support Worker? How do you become one?

The Role of an SEN Support Worker

An SEN Support Worker is a person who helps children and young people with special educational needs, such as dyslexia, autism, or other disabilities. In this blog post, we will discuss the role of an SEN support worker in detail and outline what they do to help these students.

What is an SEN Support Worker?

An SEN Support Worker assists children with special needs, typically those who are educated in a specialist provision or those who are educated in mainstream schools but require additional support. They provide the necessary help within their school or community, supporting students with disabilities, often on a one-to-one basis. While some of these cases require full-time support, others may only need part-time assistance, shared between several students.

What does an SEN Support Worker do?

An SEN Support worker is a person who works with students to help them succeed in school or in an education setting. They work closely with teachers and parents, observing the student's strengths and weaknesses to provide strategies for success. An SEN Support Worker will often be involved in helping develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP), which identifies what needs special attention from the school and what strategies will help a student succeed.

The SEN Support Worker will track the student's progress and report to teachers, parents, and other professionals.

SEN Support Workers may also work with students in schools or day centres that have special needs programs for children with learning difficulties. They help plan lessons around what is being taught in class to ensure that all individual needs are met.

How to become an SEN Support worker?

There are no formal qualifications required when it comes to becoming an SEN Support Worker. All that is needed is empathy and understanding towards children with disabilities or special needs. However, some employers may require candidates to have an NVQ level two qualification in either Health & Social Care or Education & Childcare depending on the level of support they will be providing.

SEN Support workers can work between 37-45 hours a week, but please note that this may vary depending on your employer's needs and requirements. Often, part-time positions are available too, which means it's an obvious career of choice for parents who require school-time hours.

SEN Support worker careers in the UK have a promising future with an estimated growth of up to 15% by 2022, which is well above average when compared to other occupations.

The role has been recognised as a valuable addition for children and families alike, helping them gain independence and reach their full potential.

Depending on skill levels, you could earn up to £20k per year in the role of SEN Support Worker.

What does it take to become an SEN Support Worker?

The role of an SEN support worker is an essential one. This person must have the patience and understanding to help children with special needs reach their full potential in life.

SEN Support Workers work closely with SEN managers, teachers, parents and other medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and therapists so that they better understand what kind of assistance each child needs.

An SEN Support Worker must be compassionate towards these children and serve not just as a caregiver but also as a mentor to these children.

SEN Support Workers provide the necessary support for each child depending on what their disabilities are. In addition, these workers can be trained in this area to know how to work with the different needs of children & young people and treat them accordingly by providing a bespoke care/education package.

SEN Support Workers may be expected to use a wide range of skills and abilities. These will vary depending on the age group you work with, but some examples would include:

  • Problem-solving & critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Teamwork & collaboration
  • Flexibility

On top of these general skills, the sector you work in may require additional and more specific skills. For example, if you are working with young adults who have Social, Emotional and Mental Health issues.

In this case, they will likely need help managing their emotions and finding ways to express themselves. Other skills can include:

  • Organization & time management
  • Ability to learn quickly and adapt to new situations
  • Ability to support others and build relationships with colleagues, clients, service users and their families/carers

How do I become an SEN Support Worker?

You need to be at least 18 years old to work in this position and be comfortable working in a fast-paced environment.

Having good communication skills is very helpful because you will be required to communicate with many people, such as your client's family or caregivers. They may need support for taking care of their loved ones. You might also help the teachers at school get information about the student's needs.

You should have patience, be able to work independently or as part of a team, and love working with people who need help because, in some cases, they cannot care for themselves.

There may also be some physical labour involved in your job if you have to move patients around regularly within their homes. That is why you must be in good physical condition.

You can work for a company, or your services may be contracted through the government to provide care and support for people who need extra help with their daily lives.

Some of these individuals have severe conditions which require constant 1:1 or 2:1 support. In contrast, others might just have minor identified needs that require more assistance than usual while growing up.

Can I become an SEN Support Worker as a recent graduate?

Yes - it is possible to pursue a career as an SEN Support Worker straight after leaving school or college. The role of the support worker will vary depending on what sector you work in and can be paid anywhere between £15,000 – £20,000 per annum. Some sectors may expect more experience before offering permanent roles, and others may provide on the job training.

It is essential to find the right school and program that has experienced staff members, clinical opportunities for you to gain experience, and real-life coursework. The best programs will also offer job placement assistance when you graduate. You can learn more here about how your education benefits your new job.

Some schools offer the opportunity to undertake a degree to specialise in this field. However, you do need to check the details of how it is handled by the school and program before deciding whether or not to apply. Also, keep in mind that these programs may be more difficult than others to get into. If you are being supported by your employer to gain a relevant qualification, you are often required to commit to a term of employment following graduation, or you may have to refund the cost of the course.

What qualifications do you need to become an SEN Support Worker?

There are no specific qualifications required to become an SEN Support Worker. However, to work in this role successfully and be competent, you need:

An appropriate level of education: A good standard of maths or English is essential when working with children who have special educational needs and basic literacy skills.

A strong understanding of SEN: You need to understand how children with special educational needs learn and develop.

Knowledge about all disabilities: All forms of disabilities should be understood by a support worker, such as autism, ADHD, or dyslexia.

Awareness of specific disability areas: Some people who work in the role have experience working with children who have autism, ADHD, dyslexia, or specific learning difficulties.

A range of practical skills: SEN support workers will need to follow instructions and work well as part of a team. They also need physical strength, patience, and empathy in their job role since some children and young people with additional needs can be challenging at times.

Ability to communicate well: To interact with children and young people and their parents, SEN support workers need excellent communication skills.

Good knowledge of what goes on in schools: Successful SEN Support Workers should understand how schools operate since they will be working closely with the school staff team. This includes knowing the structure of the curriculum, general school rules and procedures.

A sensitivity towards SEN children: A SEN Support Worker should have a lot of empathy for vulnerable young people because they will often find it difficult to adjust or cope within an education environment. They need to be patient with them and understand when they present with challenging behaviour since this is often out of frustration.

An ability to help children develop: The primary role of an SEN Support Worker is to facilitate each child's individual needs and requirements to learn, grow and enjoy their time at school with their peers. This can be done by helping them understand new concepts or supporting them when they get frustrated.

How to find an SEN Support Worker for your child?

  • Speak to friends and family.
  • Ask your child's school what SEN support they can recommend or point you in the right direction for an agency that provides SEN Support Workers.
  • If possible, speak with someone who is already using a SEN Support Worker
  • Search online. Several websites will help you find an SEN Support Worker for your child. Some agencies also list their SEN Support Workers on these sites, which is another good place to look.
  • If you feel your child needs an SEN Support Worker but do not think they meet the criteria for support from their school or that there is an agency in your area who can provide this service, then it might be worth contacting both to see if they could help. The Local Authority can also assist with finding appropriate provision and funding where necessary.
  • If you are not happy with the support your child is receiving, but it is funded by the Local Authority, you should raise this with the fee payers. They will have a complaints procedure set up for parents if they need to use this route. This will be an excellent step to take if you feel the school is not making a reasonable attempt to meet your child's needs.

Applying for SEN Support Worker jobs

Applying for SEN Support Worker jobs can be a great way to put your skills to good use. You can give back to the community and have plenty of flexibility regarding where you want to work and what hours you are available for.

But how does someone go about securing employment as an SEN support worker?

There are a variety of different routes that you could take into this line of work. For example, you can get an SEN Support Worker job through university or college, perhaps as part of your course requirements. Alternatively, you might be able to gain experience in the formative years by working with more aged individuals who may be looking for some casual help around their home.

Another way to get yourself an SEN Support worker job would be by working for an agency that finds jobs for you. This could save you lots of time and effort when trying to secure employment in this sector. However, you need to know that a lot of SEN Support Worker jobs are advertised online nowadays. Websites such as have all the information about these types of vacancies available for people who want to pursue this line of work.

Once you start looking into it in more detail, there is an overwhelming amount of advice and information available about SEN Support Worker jobs in the SEN sector.


What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us know! Whether you're an educator, parent or just someone who wants to learn more about how SEN Support Workers can help those with disabilities in the school setting, we hope that our blog post was helpful. Also, if you would like to learn more about becoming an SEN Support Worker yourself, please visit our website for additional information and resources.

Thank you for reading!

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