Independent Thinking on Being a SENDCO

113 tips for building relationships, saving time and changing lives

By: Ginny Bootman


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Published: May 2023
Size: 198 x 126mm
ISBN : 9781781354247
Pages : 160
Format: Paperback

Written by Ginny Bootman, Independent Thinking on Being a SENDCO: 113 tips for building relationships, saving time and changing lives is an informative guide that identifies simple, tried and tested ways to build and cement strong relationships between all those who work with children with additional needs, whether they are teachers, parents, carers or outside agencies.

What is a SENDCO? A voice. An advocate. A messenger (don’t shoot!). A calm in the storm. A connection. A friend. A forgiveness seeker, not a permission requester. A shot in the dark. A shot at life. The one who listens. The one who knows. The one who cares. The educational professional who campaigns tirelessly on behalf of the children who need more support than most to navigate a system that, at times, seems purposely set up to make them fail.

Relationships are pivotal when working with children with special educational needs (SEN). Trust, honesty and empathy play a vital role in these relationships and is key to these individuals thriving in school and at home. In this book, Ginny Bootman offers a fresh perspective on how SENDCOs can build strong, lasting and effective relationships between those who work with children with additional needs and explores why forming these relationships is so important to help children achieve the best they can and take away positive experiences.

Independent Thinking on Being a SENDCO is designed to help you become a compassionate, honest and determined SENDCO, combining your professionalism with empathy, the ability to listen properly and a desire to understand what the lives of others are like and how you can help. It is a book full of tips that will save you time and energy, useful hacks to help you overcome obstacles and bumps in the road, and proven strategies that will benefit your relationships.

Suitable for SENDCOs, primary and secondary school teachers and leaders, as well as parents of children with additional needs.

Picture for author Ginny Bootman

Ginny Bootman

Ginny Bootman is an experienced teacher and SENDCO with responsibility for four primary schools, as well as a regular speaker at national SEND conferences. She is passionate about the impact of relationships within education, particularly for those working with children with additional needs, and is determined to improve understanding of the pivotal role that these relationships play within the school environment.


  1. Although the author works in a school environment and clearly writes primarily about what she knows and her area of expertise, the vast proportion of this book is applicable to all who work in the field, and also educators and school management. It covers most day-to-day issues facing the SENDCO role with good humour and a positive approach, while acknowledging that this is a challenging but very fulfi lling role.

    I was pleased that this book has a big emphasis on empathy, stopping and breathing, and thinking before acting and speaking. The author acknowledges that this isn’t easy to do and gives advice to help overcome the knee-jerk reactions that can damage the precious relationships that we need to develop and preserve.

    Most of the advice given here is common sense, but I liked its inclusion of tips for changing perspectives from our normal reactions to a more productive, relationship-building approach.

    As in any book of this nature, it is littered with well-known phrases of modern education such as ‘walk alongside the parents’. But it is more than just a collection of well intended words – it also off ers examples and explanations about how to achieve these goals.

  2. Ginny’s humour and enthusiasm for all things SEND jumped straight out at me the first time she came on the SENDcast. We talked like old friends. She immediately won me over and engaged me in her every word, even encouraging me to join her in a game of ‘would you rather’. Ginny’s straight-talking approach and dedication to following ‘the empathy road’ make for a witty and caring approach to helping others with the business of being a SENDCO. The timesaving tips in her fabulous new book and the guidance on how to build relationships with all who support children with additional needs are invaluable tools for every SENDCO.

  3. Every school's SENDCO is the beating heart of its inclusive practice. It's a role which calls for compassion, tenacity, determination, alchemy, resourcefulness, kindness, botheredness, purposefulness, care. Every school should have a Ginny championing their SENDCO when the tensions of the job are taut and they're running on fumes. And now they can with this wonderful book! Square Peg loves Ginny's 113 tips which are drawn from a deep well of professional wisdom and experience, sharing how to embody and deliver hope, love and joy in every school and for every child struggling to fit. Ginny shares how grit can be nurtured into shining baroque-sized pearls of achievement through the relationships and improved outcomes for children, young people, their families, colleagues and wider communities. Highly recommended for all professionals in SEND education and leadership alike. This book is not just for SENDCOs – it's guaranteed to make anyone who reads it 10% braver every day.

  4. A wonderful book that strikes the delicate balance of being positive yet honest and realistic about the SENDCO role. Reading it feels like going for a coffee, cake and a chat with an experienced colleague. And not just any colleague … one who can help you navigate everything from tricky conversations with families and facilitating staff training on SEND to finding bargain SEND resources from pound shops!

  5. The role of SENDCO is arguably one of the most important in any school. Taking on the role can seem daunting and the list of responsibilities endless. What Ginny Bootman has done in this wonderful book is distil her wisdom into snack-sized chunks so that anyone who is in the role now has a definitive guide as to what to do in every conceivable situation. This is a must for any SENDCO’s bookshelf! 

  6. You know when someone is really walking the talk when they convey the deep experience of a complex role, when they are coming from a place of deep compassion and concern for every child. Well, you’ll find this in Ginny’s book. It’s beautifully written, very funny and it sounds as though she’s alongside you as you navigate the complex world of education in general and being a SENDCo in particular. A fantastic resource.

  7. The role of the SENDCO is not an easy one. In this book, Being a SENDCO, Ginny Bootman acknowledges some of the many challenges, reassures the reader that it’s okay not to know everything, and then provides a wealth of tips to help ease the load. Highlighting the empathy-based approach that is core to her work, Ginny outlines a range of practical examples for developing positive relationships to get the best from pupils, parents and colleagues. Being a SENDCO is full of invaluable, easy-win ideas to help the busy SEND leader save time and effort in their demanding yet extremely rewarding role. It is a book of little gems! 

  8. Clearly, this book is about the most important people in education: the children and young people. Ginny Bootman has created an immersive space for us all to feel supported and guided in the most important of roles – that of a SENDCO. She helps us to understand the challenges and the frustrations met by young people, parents and teachers in the world of SEND, along with a fantastic set of tips, thought-provoking strategies and a space where we can all feel supported. 

    Her beautifully crafted book has empathy; empathy which is driven by the need to get the best available support and help for children and young people within a complex education system. The articles, references and thorough research which Ginny Bootman shares with us supports why there are so many issues within our education culture and system, and this is to be highly commended. 

    This is a book for any teacher, parent or educationalist alike. You will not be able to put it down. It’s a personal journey as well as a professional reflection of what we need to do to ensure that every child in every school has their individual needs met to the best of our ability.

    Thank you, Ginny, for a thoroughly enjoyable learning journey. 

  9. Ginny’s experience, humour and candour are the perfect guiding hand for SENDCOs who are new or looking for new directions in a role that has grown in size and importance in recent years. This book is packed with down-to-earth, doable ideas delivered in bitesize chunks to support and scaffold you in your role of supporting and scaffolding the children and adults within your community. Well worth reading and enacting.

  10. What a great book! I am not a SENDCO but I found that reading this enabled me to develop the empathy that Ginny mentions so many times for those in that role. I really loved the layout of the book – 113 tips – as it enables the reader to dip in at any point. The tips are quick, easy reads and cover everything. This is a great book for those considering being a SENDCO and also for those in the role already. It is also a great book to have on the staff-room bookshelf so that others can read it and understand the multifaceted nature of the role and just what being a SENDCO entails.

  11. There are numerous practitioner-written books that are heavy going, and when you reach the end you really have to think about whether what you’ve learned has been helpful. What I love about Being a SENDCO is that you can pick it up and find well-explained nuggets of advice on every page. The 113 tips are not obscured by the strait jacket of trying to show how academic the book is.

    From the foreword, which demonstrates the complexity of the job, through to the last section on working with outside agencies, I’d recommend this book to those aspiring to be a SENDCO and the most experienced practitioners. 

    Reading the book is like sitting down with an experienced mentor for a series of conversations over a coffee (maybe a glass of wine!). The tips are pragmatic and achievable, and I will definitely be ordering a copy for our (new in post) SENDCO. 

    If this is the area you want to work in, then I unreservedly recommend Independent Thinking on Being a SENDCO for an honest insight into the job and plenty of useful advice.

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