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PGCert National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination (NASENCo)

Course overview

Start date

September 2021

Subject area

Teaching and Education




On campus, dual delivery

Course summary

The course is designed to critically engage with current thinking and ideas about inclusive and specialist education, and is designed to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding required to be a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). The course fulfils all the requirements for achieving the National SENCo Award. The 2015 Special Educational Needs Code of Practice stipulates that for SENCos new to the role, it is mandatory to gain this award within three years of taking up the role.

The course covers inclusion and leadership within special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and it draws upon current legislation and national and international research.  

The course will enable you to study and research current and relevant issues concerning a range of special educational needs and disabilities and to develop your knowledge of inclusive pedagogy and practice. 

It will allow you to develop the skills to reflect critically on your own practice and current research. It will also enable you to contribute to school development and strategic vision concerning SEND and inclusion.

Senco national award logo

Return to campus: dual delivery

In a Covid-secure environment, enjoy learning on our state-of-the-art campuses and flex between online delivery

Find out more


award certified

The course meets the learning outcomes for the National SENCO Award (NCTL, 2015), allowing you to develop your expertise and knowledge in the area of special educational needs and disabilities while fulfilling Department of Education requirements for the role of SENCO.


Understand a wide range of special educational needs

This course will support Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) and aspiring SENCOs to develop their knowledge and understanding of a range of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). It also covers key concepts in leadership, supporting students to fulfil the strategic role required of SENCOs in schools.

Learn from active practitioners

Our staff are practitioners in the field of SEND, with many years of experience of working with children and young people with a range of learning needs. They bring a wealth of practical experience and knowledge of the most current research to the programme. Staff also have extensive experience of the role of SENCO and of leadership within education.


What we're researching

Dr Paula Bosanquet, who teaches on both the MA Education and MA Special Educational Needs courses, is a world-renowned expert on independent learning and scaffolding. Her talks on the subject are in high demand locally and nationally for teaching assistants and teachers, focusing on how they can enable pupils, particularly those with special educational needs, to be independent learners.

Dr Wayne Tennent, who teaches on the MA Education course, is an expert in reading comprehension, having written two books on the subject and led numerous projects in schools which have demonstrated impact on pupil achievement in this area. He works extensively with the United Kingdom Literacy Association.

The research of Nicole Whitelaw and Julie Gariazzo, both of whom teach on the MA Special Educational Needs course, is in the area of autism, while Dr Margaret Etherington, course leader of the MA Education, is an expert on art and gender in education.

John Macklin, leader of the MA Leadership in Education, carries out research into leadership in schools in relation to complexity theory. Warren Kidd, PGCert Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Course Leader, researches in the area of teacher identity and has published extensively in the area of sociology and teaching and learning.

Our Professional Doctorate (EdD) course draws on the input of researchers from across the School of Education and Communities. It is led by Dr Gerry Czerniawski, who has published extensively in the areas of teaching and learning, teacher and teacher educator identity, continuing professional development (CPD) and pupil voice.

A founder member of the International Forum for Teacher Educator Development (InFoTED), he serves on the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Council and is chair of BERA's British Curriculum Forum. Gerry is a National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Making a difference

UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.

How you'll learn

You will learn through lectures, face-to-face tutorials and by working in small discussion groups and pairs.

There is a focus on collaborative learning, building on the strength of shared experience, knowledge and expertise. During taught sessions, you will be encouraged to interact with your fellow professionals, allowing you to explore theory and practice. 

Group activities also help you to develop your ideas through discussion with others before your approach the assessment tasks.

Each module is supported by a Virtual Learning Environment, where you can access key readings, additional materials and use the discussion board. 

In addition to weekly lectures, you will have access to the module tutor via email or in face-to-face tutorials. Our tutors have all worked professionally to a high level in the field and have experience in supporting participants from a wide range of professional contexts and backgrounds.

A key aspect of the course is the Work Based Practice Portfolio. This is where you gather evidence of your work in schools to meet the learning outcomes of the National SENCo Award.

To help you complete this portfolio, you will be given specific tasks between sessions, alongside workshops where you can discuss your progress and any areas where you feel you need further support.

You will have one year after being awarded your Postgraduate Certificate to complete this portfolio, and you will have continued support from your tutor during this time.

Nicole Whitelaw

PGCert Special Educational Needs Coordination Course Leader

The role of SENCO is key within schools, and this course supports SENCOs to develop their knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence in the area of SEND and leadership. Students are supported by tutors who have in-depth knowledge of the demands of the role. They are able to access support via email, using discussion boards on the Virtual Learning Environment and through face-to-face tutorials.

Fees and funding

Apply for a 50 per cent discount on your tuition fees! You can get a 50 per cent discount on course fees through a UEL Postgraduate Scholarship.

The scholarship is open to full-time and part-time UK and EU students of taught postgraduate courses. *Exclusions apply.

Find out more about full eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Terms and conditions apply.

How we can help you

Did you know that with a postgraduate qualification you can expect to earn more than someone who only holds an undergraduate degree?

If you want to build new skills, change career paths, or further your career prospects, a postgraduate degree can help you. Our range of scholarships and bursaries will make financing your education that much easier. Below is some of the funding available to support you in your studies:

Terms and conditions apply.

Below are some ideas on how to fund your postgraduate study:
There are a number of ways you can pay your fees to UEL
•    Online payment facilities
•    By telephone
•    In person at our Docklands or Stratford campus
•    Bank transfer
Full information on making payments can be found here
If you wish to discuss payments to the University, please contact our Income Team on 020 8223 2974 or you can email

The Student Money Advice and Rights Team (SMART) are here to help you navigate
your finances while you're a student at the University of East London.

We can give you advice, information and guidance on government and
university funds so that you receive your full funding entitlement.


Phone: 020 8223 4444

Tuition fees

Per 60 Credit Module

EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals starting a course in September 2021, will no longer be eligible for Home fees. However, such nationals benefitting from Settled Status or Citizens' Rights may become eligible for Home fees as and when the UK Government confirms any new fees regulations.  Further information can be found at UKCISA.

Tuition fees are subject to annual change. Fees for future years will be published in due course.

As part of the Tier 4 student visa requirements, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) estimate that you will need £1,265* per month to cover your living costs. It includes expenses for accommodation, food and drink, travel within London, text books, entertainment, clothing, toiletries and laundry. Most Tier 4 students are required to show they have sufficient funds to cover the first nine months of the course before they start- a total of £11,385- in addition to the tuition fees. You can find more information about the specific requirements of the Tier 4 student visa here. The amount that you will spend can vary depending on your lifestyle. The UKCISA International Student Calculator can help you plan and manage your money.

* Please note the Immigration Rules are subject to change and this figure is likely to be increased by UKVI year on year. Please therefore check our ISA page for more information at the time of preparing your visa application.

Deposits and paying by instalments

International students are required to pay a deposit prior to being issued a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

Your remaining balance will be paid in five monthly instalments over your first term. The first of these instalments must be paid when completing your enrolment on arrival at UEL. Please follow the payment instructions here.

After the required payment has been made, you will be asked to complete the online International Student Reply Form to confirm your acceptance of our offer and of our terms of admittance and fees policy.

Our International team at UEL are available for advice and guidance on studying in London, fees, scholarships and visa requirements.


Tuition fees

Per 60 Credit Module

EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals starting a course in September 2021, will no longer be eligible for Home fees. However, such nationals benefitting from Settled Status or Citizens' Rights may become eligible for Home fees as and when the UK Government confirms any new fees regulations.  Further information can be found at UKCISA.

Tuition fees are subject to annual change. Fees for future years will be published in due course.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:2 Honours

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), Qualified Teacher Learning Status (QTLS), Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS - appropriate for ages 0-5 only) is required for the post of SENCO


(Including European Union)

  • Applicants need to evidence that they have access to a context that allows them to be able to complete the practical aspects required for completion of the National SENCo Award (for example, a reference/letter from a headteacher)

Overall IELTS 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognised equivalent).

If you do not meet the academic English language requirements for your course, you may be eligible to enrol onto a pre-sessional English programme. The length of the course will depend on your current level of English and the requirements for your degree programme. We offer a 5-week and an 11-week pre-sessional course. Find out more here.

As an inclusive university, we recognise that applicants who have been out of education for some time may not have the formal qualifications usually required for entry to a course. We welcome applications from those who can demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment to study and have the relevant life/work experience that equips them to succeed on the course. We will assess this from the information provided in your application – in particular your personal statement - to help us decide on your eligibility for the course.

Please note that some courses require applicants to meet the entry requirements outlined on the course page. Our pre-entry Information Advice and Guidance Team are able to provide further advice on entry requirements and suitability for study.
You can speak to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0)20 8223 3333, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can visit our Information, Advice and Guidance centre.

What you'll learn

The aim of the course is to support SENCOs and aspiring SENCOs to develop their knowledge and understanding of key issues in inclusion, and how to respond effectively to the needs of pupils with a range of special educational needs and disabilities. 

The course will also develop your leadership skills, allowing you to play a key role within your school. You will also explore the role of multi-agency working for pupils with SEND, linking this to current legislation and practice within your own context. 

Throughout the course, you will be helped to develop a critical understanding of theory alongside practical knowledge. This is reflected in a work-based practice portfolio, which allows you to meet the learning outcomes for the National SENCo Award (NCTL, 2015).

You will be encouraged to make links between theory and your own practice, and become a reflective practitioner who is able to think proactively and strategically about provision for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

What you'll study

We consistently review and develop our courses and modules to ensure they are up-to-date with sector and industry graduate skills demands. Course structure, modules and options are subject to change.

Inclusive Education and SEND (core)
Leadership and SEND (core)

How you'll be assessed

Due to the practical nature of the course there are no examinations. The Postgraduate Certificate in Special Educational Needs Co-ordination is assessed by coursework. Each module assessment will be a single submissions portfolio of 5000 words or equivalent. 

Assessment tasks will involve critical reflection, professional work-based tasks and research and action planning. You will also critically engage with research and current thinking in SEN.

Each assessment will consist of an aspect of practitioner research, where you will be asked to identify and clarify an issue in your setting, then work with colleagues as appropriate to plan a change that might address the issue. 

If you want to receive the National SENCO Award you will also have to complete the Work-Based Practice Portfolio. This will show evidence of how you have met the learning outcomes required for the award, and needs to be completed within one year of being awarded the Postgraduate Certificate.

Course specification

Your future career

The key aim of this course is to develop the skills and knowledge you need for the role of SENCo within schools. The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (DfE / DoH, 2015) stipulates that all new SENCos must gain the National SENCo Award within three years of taking their post.

The skills and knowledge you develop on this course will give you expertise in the areas of inclusion, SEND and leadership, whether you are working as or aspiring to be a SENCo.

However, the course will also help you develop a range of transferrable skills that are desirable in a wide range of careers. These include knowledge of theories, legislation, policy and practice, computer literacy, planning and time management and written communication.

It will also demonstrate your ability to design and carry out small-scale research and to engage in critical thinking.

Explore the different career options you can pursue with this degree and see the median salaries of the sector on our Career Coach portal

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