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My friends all said don’t do it. They said I’d never come up for air and would always be snowed under.
I didn’t listen, I applied and I got the job as SENCo.
There is little doubt that my job is ‘busy’. Teaching Y6 as well means I’m in a constant spin.
They were right: I’m overwhelmed, drowning in paperwork and our data-driven culture has upped the pressure. But I knew what I was letting myself in for.
The role of a SENCo is wide-ranging, mega-challenging but, ultimately, rewarding.
My job means I’ve got to be on top of things. It requires teamwork, time management, prioritising, managing finances, determination and compassion.
It’s exhausting being a gatekeeper, capacity builder, detective, financial wizard, data analyst, liaison officer, psychologist, hunter-gatherer (I’m always chasing staff for paperwork), action researcher and strategist.
Many SENCos are dazed by the operational nature of the role. With little support, you need a head for heights.
I wanted to be a SENCo because I have a genuine love and enthusiasm for providing the best individual academic opportunities for all pupils with SEN.
I also firmly believe that every child needs a champion.
SENCos are superhero teachers because they have small egos, great ideas, strong wills and guts – real guts. They also have big hearts and can take things on the chin.
There is always so much to do as a SENCo, but I might have to accept defeat. I’m fighting a losing battle. I can’t keep up. I’m chasing my tail.
I’m supposed to set the direction and plan ahead, innovate and lead change, remove barriers to learning and participation, motivate and influence others and keep my finger on the pulse.
I’m expected to model good practice, monitor, coach, mentor and make an impact.
I also need to recite the SEND Code of Practice and intelligently deploy resources to narrow the attainment gap.
Furthermore, I’m supposed to offer immediate support for all pupil needs, including looked after children, Tourette’s and the endless demands of ADHD and EAL.
I try, but I think I need a few PAs to help with the admin and coordination.
When SENCos are supported by senior management, the role can be a powerful one in relation to inclusion. Mine are either fire-fighting or off-site, so leave it to me to manage.
All is not lost. I might not have any PAs to help but what I do have is worth about ten of these.
It’s a piece of technology that is transforming my role and my outlook: Provision Map.
I’ve gone from almost throwing in the towel to fighting my own corner and the corners of those that need me.
I’m also ready to get my school into gear for Ofsted when it arrives. Intelligent accountability will be no problem.
Provision Map has come to my rescue just in time. This gem has done what I always thought was impossible: it’s made the work of a SENCo easier.
Provision Map is a piece of scintillating software for joining up the dots and orchestrating SENCO administration with flair.
It is business-like, professional and is the equivalent of having a tidy desk every day (which for 99.9% of SENCos has never happened). It’s the ultimate burden-sharer.
It was Twitter that started the ball rolling. I started sharing tales, tips and tactics with a fellow SENCo and she introduced me to Provision Map and all the great things it could do.
She talked about flexible learning plans, mapping out interventions with ease, streamlining reviews and creating instant reports.
She even said getting hold of staff became easier. Provision Map helped her to get her ridiculous paperwork load done quickly.
I didn’t waste a minute. Provision Map gives me every tool I need to do my job and addresses the ten ‘E’s of a SENCo: equity, efficiency, effectiveness, empathy, engagement, exploration, education, economy, evaluation and environment.
It has restored balance, saved time and made me wonder why I wasn’t using it already.
Check back soon for part 2, when we find out more about the features of Provision Map and how it can revolutionise the way you work as a non-stop SENCo.
Book a demo for a 30-day free trial: provisionmap.co.uk/demo.
John Dabell is a teacher with 20 years’ experience in primary and secondary schools, an author of maths, science and English books and a trained Ofsted inspector.