Special Educational Needs Coordination

(National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination)

Start date
See details below
1 year part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Taught

For 2023-2024
£2,892 (Home)
£7,050 (International)
More Fees and funding details.

The University of Birmingham is an approved provider for the National Award for SEN Co-ordination.

The University of Birmingham has been running accredited (Masters level) professional development programmes for special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCos) for over 17 years. Over two thousand SENCos have successfully completed their training over this period and given excellent course feedback!

The University runs partnership versions of the National Award for SEN Co-ordination course with the following Local Authority partners: Birmingham; Dudley & Sandwell.(combined cohort); Staffordshire (Entrust). Within these Local Authority areas teachers wishing to apply for a place on the course work in a range of maintained mainstream schools, maintained nursery schools, academy and free schools, and pupil referral units (PRUs). SENCos working in other neighbouring Local Authority areas can also join one of the partnership courses (in 2022-2023 for example, SENCos from Derbyshire, Herefordshire, Solihull, Telford and Wrekin and Warwickshire were participating in versions of the course).


The National Award is a mandatory qualification, 60 Credit Masters level course which all SENCos who are new in role must undertake. The course meets the requirements of the SEN Code of Practice (2015 Section 6.86). The training courses are 12 months in duration; however, SENCos have up to three years from the point at which they are designated as a SENCo in which to complete the award. Final responsibility for ensuring the school’s compliance lies with the school’s governing body.

The course is designed to support a SENCo’s professional development, giving them an opportunity to reflect upon and improve their practice whilst learning more about the coordination of special educational needs, leadership and management, policy and supporting the individual needs of children and young people. 

We are currently recruiting for:

  • Birmingham and Black Country cohorts starting in September 2023.
  • Staffordshire cohort starting in January 2024.

Proposed replacement of the NASENCO with a National Professional Qualification

Please note that the DfE have proposed that the NASENCO is replaced by an NPQ.

  • The DfE have confirmed that SENCOs undertaking or enrolled to start on the NASENCO before the NPQ is available will be able to complete their course and applicants should continue to apply for a NASENCO in 2023. They will be recognised as having fulfilled the mandatory SENCO training requirement and will not need to undertake the NPQ.
  • The DfE have not yet confirmed arrangements for the NPQ. This includes likely providers, course content and funding arrangements 


We also offer a number of other programmes across a range of SEN and Inclusion that may be relevant to your needs. 


Fees 2023 - 2024

Course code: 8905 £2,892 (Home), £7,050 (International).

Sources of funding

Prospective students find their funding from a number of different sources:

  • Funding by employers or schools
  • Self funding
  • A combination of the above 

There is no central DFE funding available.

How To Apply

We are currently recruiting for this programme for the following cohorts: 

  • Birmingham and Black Country cohorts starting in September 2023
  • Staffordshire cohort starting January 2024

You will need to complete the online application ('Apply now').

Guidance to support completion of the registration form

Personal Statement

  • Please record a brief statement of no more than 200 words describing your current role.
  • Please record your DfE teacher number in this section – we are unable to process your application without this.

Accrediting Prior Learning (APL)

Due to the nature of the award, we do not accept applications for APL.


You will need one reference from your line manager or Headteacher stating that are willing to support your application for this programme. Please inform your referee as they will contacted directly.

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply online

Our Standard Requirements

Applicants should be SENCos or aspirant SENCos. For SENCOs new to the role it is mandatory to achieve the award within three years of appointment.

All applicants must meet the requirements outlined in the Children and Families Act (2014) and associated regulations. That is, they need to have:

  • Qualified Teacher Status (QTS),
  • OR Qualified Teacher Learning Status (QTLS),
  • OR Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS - appropriate for ages 0-5 only)

In addition, the applicant needs to have completed their induction period.

As this course has been designed to enable participants to fulfil this strategic role, all applicants must have full support of their school leadership team and be employed in and have access to both an appropriate setting and relevant school based experiences.

Partnership programmes

The course is delivered as part of a partnership between The University of Birmingham and different local authorities and services. We welcome students from outside of these local authority areas.

‘Birmingham’ – This programme is delivered alongside Birmingham local authority. The course takes place in local authority centres in Birmingham and at the University of Birmingham. 

‘Black Country’ – This programme is delivered alongside Dudley, Sandwell and Wolverhampton local authorities. The course takes place in local authority centres in these localities and at the University of Birmingham.

‘Staffordshire’ – This programme is delivered alongside Entrust (The traded arm of Staffordshire local authority) in Stafford.

Please make it clear in your application which version of the course you are applying for. 


International Requirements

The course content is related to local and national contexts and the teaching and learning opportunities are delivered by local and nationally based experts such as experienced teachers, Educational Psychologists, school leaders, Inspectors, therapists and service leads.

The National Award covers: 

  • the role of the SENCo & the statutory framework for SEND (including relevant policy requirements) 
  • effective approaches to identification, assessment and intervention (principles and practice; differentiation – quality first teaching, waves of intervention, individualised education planning)
  • responding to diversity (areas of need) – cognition and learning; communication & interaction; social, emotional and mental health, sensory and/or physical needs 
  • pupil participation, parent partnership & inter-service collaboration 
  • inclusive provision management (effective use of human resources and interventions, and evidence based practice) 
  • developing and sustaining effective SEND leadership (preparation for inspection; whole-school initiatives such as Achievement for All) 
  • Professional development to improve practice. 

The teaching takes place over ten face to face days during term-time. The days are evenly spread over the school year and sessions are taught in local authority/school centres and at the University of Birmingham. In addition, all students have access to the online virtual learning environment and full library facilities to support their learning.   


The assessments have been designed to meet the requirements of the course and enhance school self evaluation procedures.

Specific assignments - course participants all need to complete three 4000 word written assignments at Masters Level:

  • An evaluation: focusing on specific course content and aspects of the SENCo’s role and school based SEN procedures. 
  • A case study:  focusing on in-depth work with a young person and their family.
  • A professional development project presented as a brief ‘research report’ focusing on an aspect of professional development carried out by the SENCo in her/his school or setting.


This course will enable SENCos to meet essential requirements for undertaking the role in English schools. These requirements are set out in regulations and state that:

Governing bodies of maintained mainstream schools, maintained nursery schools and the proprietors of Academy (including Free Schools) must ensure that there is a qualified teacher designated as SENCo for the school.

The SENCo must be a qualified teacher working at the school. A newly appointed SENCO must be a qualified teacher and where they have not previously been the SENCo at that or any other relevant mainstream school for a total period of more than twelve months , they must achieve the National Award in Special Educational Needs Coordination within 3 years of appointment.

This course will:

  • Enhance your knowledge and skills to effectively support the development of children and young people between 0-25 and their families
  • Create career prospects for practitioners looking to work in leadership positions in organisations which promote and develop inclusion
  • Pave the way to progression to EdD or PhD study for those who wish to pursue higher study

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