The Perfect SENCO

By: Natalie Packer


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 124 x 174mm
Pages : 168
ISBN : 9781781351048
Format: Hardback
Published: August 2014

The Perfect SENCO is the fully up-to-date, essential guide to supporting children with special educational needs; an invaluable resource for all schools that are looking to update their practice in line with the new national guidelines. Revised and updated to cover the changes resulting from the new Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice, this book will empower your school to embrace the national changes which came into force in September 2014, by showing how to support every teacher as a teacher of children with special educational needs (SEN).

Over recent years, the job of the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) has become more strategic and will now include provision mapping, working in partnership with parents, supporting other colleagues, commissioning services, demonstrating pupil progress and ensuring value for money. In essence, it is a role which contributes significantly to whole-school improvement. The Perfect SENCO provides guidance for SENCOs and other senior leaders on working in a strategic way to support improvement. It will be of use not only for potential or newly appointed SENCOs, but also for those who are more experienced and wish to keep their day-to-day practice up to date.

Including key information and practical tips, The Perfect SENCO is a useful point of reference for busy senior leaders. The book can be used to encourage reflection of current policy and practice, to support cultural or systemic change and to consider ways of coordinating SEN provision to successfully raise the achievement of pupils with special educational needs.

This revised and updated edition is referenced against the Children and Families Act, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice and up-to-date Ofsted guidelines. It will support SENCOs, inclusion managers and coordinators, SEN governors together with senior leaders to start implementing change effectively.

Contents include:

  1. The SENCO: centre stage for school improvement
  2. Leading the way: providing strategic direction and development
  3. High quality SEN provision - all day, every day
  4. Tracking and monitoring to raise achievement
  5. Every teacher’s responsibility: developing your colleagues
  6. Working in harmony: effective partnerships
  7. Bringing it all together: self-evaluation and Ofsted
  8. The perfect SENCO: quick checklist of key actions

Picture for author Natalie Packer

Natalie Packer

Natalie Packer is an education consultant specialising in SEND and school improvement. Having previously worked for the National Strategies SEN team and as a local authority adviser, Natalie has a significant amount of experience within this area of the education sector. She runs a range of professional development courses, carries out SEND reviews and supports a range of multi-academy trusts across the country with their strategic development of SEND provision.


  1. Being given the remit of Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) in a school can be an overwhelming task for any individual, with support channels and programmes now in place to ensure teachers understand the legal responsibilities thrust upon the school. Having support, and gaining your won individual knowledge and confidence can be difficult to gain, but “The Perfect SENCO” by Natalie Packer is full of support, guidance and tips for people enlisted in the SENCO role.

    With time limitations, SENCOs do not want to be bogged down trying to understand the responsibilities of the role, with this book concisely explaining the process to become as perfect a SENCO as possible. The importance of the role is discussed early on in the book, advocating that the SENCO is centre stage for school improvement, talking through the SEN code of practice; SEN in the OfSTED framework; and the challenges and opportunities for SENCOs in the role.

    Packer advocates that SENCOs lead the way, providing strategic direction and development, being well-placed to ensure all pupils in the school progress as best as possible; leading a development of an inclusive culture. Thereafter, chapters focus on providing high quality SEN provision; tracking and monitoring achievement; supporting teaching colleagues; working with parents; plus self-evaluation and inspection.

    This is a handy, up-to-date, practical guide to support current and/or new teachers in the SENCO role. For those wanting to ensure they are up to speed with current legislation, expectations and support, then get this book -” it is more focused on the processes rather than specific conditions you may come across.
  2. This is a highly informative, up to date book, written concisely and clearly. The Perfect SENCO is one in a series of books addressing aspects of school identified as crucial by Ofsted. The role of the SENCO has changed quite considerably in recent years and is now regarded as central to the school improvement process. The SENCO will not only provide advice on carrying out statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for children with special educational needs but will also give strategic direction and seek opportunities for development through coordinating provision, tracking progress and leading or developing others. The Perfect SENCO takes aspects of the role to look at in more detail in each chapter. It is very readable with frequent -˜top tips', key aspects highlighted through bullet points and a really useful summary at the end of each chapter. I think that this would be a very valuable book for both newly appointed and experienced SENCOs either to read from cover to cover as I did, or to dip into to look at a particular area of practice. Highly recommended!
  3. Mrs Packer has written this well presented hardback book in a highly engaging and informative way. As a relatively new Senco, I devoured it in just two sittings, but it would be equally valuable for more experienced practitioners to refresh their skills and keep them up to date on the latest developments.
    As Sencos, we are always striving to support children more effectively, and this handy guide provides lots of checklists and reflective questions to help us. Crucially, Mrs Packer recognises that the role is not just about `ticking boxes for Ofsted or ensuring we are following the latest government message. 'We do it because we want to make a difference to the lives of children,' she says.
    She outlines the latest government policies and recent research into different areas of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), serving up her insights in lovely bite-sized chunks. At the end of each chapter there are useful summaries, case studies, top tips, checklists and templates. Arid while the title may suggest the book is only aimed at Sencos, I believe it is a must-read for every teacher, learning support assistant and senior leader within a school setting.
    The year that lies ahead will bring a major upheaval in the field of SEND.
    The role of the Senco is rapidly changing and from 2014 schools will have to work differently in the way that they support children with SEND. First, there must be a whole-school approach that provides high-quality provision all day, every day. This is achieved through inclusive teaching which meets the needs of every pupil through high expectations, including those with SEND. As Mrs Packer states, `All teachers are teachers of children with SEND' - this should be the mantra of every fully inclusive school.
    Second, there must be effective communication with parents, the child and external agencies. Sencos will also need to consider their local offer and understand how to commission the services needed to provide specific support. This is especially important with the introduction of personal budgets with
    Education, Health and Care Plans, where the parents decide how their child's funding will be used.
    The book covers all of this, exploring the Senco's role in school improvement, strategic direction and staff development, high quality SEND provision, tracking and monitoring to raise achievement, effective partnerships, self-evaluation and Ofsted. Every chapter is fantastic. Mrs Packer concludes with a quick checklist of key actions to aid us in our quest to become `The Perfect Senco'.
  4. The Perfect SENCO provides a comprehensive and realistic view of one of the most important teaching roles in our schools today. The current climate of change surrounding the provisions we make in our schools, and settings for children and young people with special educational needs, will lead to an even greater level of significance for the role of the SENCO and the professional development implications to ensure that every teacher is a teacher of every child. As Natalie rightly identifies, achieving perfection is often out of reach for most of us; however, The Perfect SENCO offers all of us in education, not just SENCOs, a fantastic, highly readable guide in striving for perfection to ensure that the needs of our most vulnerable pupils and students are fundamental to every school's philosophy, strategy, planning and practice. Most importantly, the book provides clear routes in determining effective outcomes for children and young people. The top tips, useful summaries, checklists and templates will refresh any SENCO's toolbox, enabling them to keep up-to-date, at the top of their game and meet the challenge of the changing landscape for SEN. This is a must read for every teacher, SENCO, senior leader and school governor.
  5. This book is an absolute must read for all teachers and school leaders. Well selected accounts of practice and case studies offer insight into the practical aspects of achieving the aim of success for all our children, irrespective of need. There is no doubt that this should be on the reading list of any aspirant teacher who is attempting to discover a moral purpose and personal vision for education. Natalie's wealth of experience of special educational needs strategy, coupled with her huge desire for equality for all children, gives a clear insight into how to develop an educational philosophy whilst enabling opportunities for any teacher to be confident in becoming The Perfect SENCO.
  6. Never has education seen so much change in such a short period of time, especially with regard to SEND and its coordination. From 2014, schools will need to work differently, leaving behind the medicalised approach to SEND as a deficit model and moving towards a more proactive, whole-school approach. This is something good schools have always done; however, for some a more collaborative, corporate approach will be a significant change. This is, however, essential in order to meet the needs of twenty-first century learners.

    Natalie Packer's new book, The Perfect SENCO, considers the key tenets of the twenty-first century SENCO, with particular regard to the new ways of working that colleagues will face.

    Considering the SENCO role as one centred around school improvement is an important distinction that some colleagues maintaining an approach based upon a medical model will need to understand. This publication tackles this as part of a whole-school approach, considering high quality provision and effective partnerships as key elements of that new way of working.

    In addition, clear guidance and support with regard to self-evaluation and inspections helps SENCO colleagues measure and evidence impact; another key facet of the modern SENCO way.

    Throughout the book, case studies and examples, along with top tips, bring the text to life - these allow the reader an opportunity to understand the context and support a greater depth of understanding. This book is timely for a number of reasons, not only due to the significant changes taking place with regard to provision and assessment of SEND, but also because, at a time of austerity, it allows the reader to see that effective provision does not need to be expensive; a desire to improve outcomes as part of a whole-school approach is a key starting point. This, coupled with the themes that run through the book with regard to collaboration and partnerships, school improvement and evaluation, provide a condensed and cohesive manuscript that should find a valuable home in all SENCOs' offices/bookcases.

    As an experienced SENCO, who has been fortunate enough to coordinate some high quality outcomes for some of our most vulnerable learners, I can align myself with all the publication's key themes; this is no surprise as good practice has always been one of partnerships and collaboration that is child-centred. As a tool for helping focus experienced SENCOs on key areas, or for the newly appointed, The Perfect SENCO is an ideal companion for the challenges we face, especially in light of the recent, significant changes in policy and provision.

    I have no reservations in wholeheartedly recommending this book to any SENCO, teacher, head teacher, member of support staff, or anyone interested in improving outcomes for our most vulnerable; easy to read and understand, the distillation of what can be extremely complex into clear and explicit areas is a real breath of fresh air in the dense fog of political change.

  7. The Perfect SENCO is an absolute 'must' for head teachers and SENCOs. Natalie is highly skilled at explaining the 'big picture' and then providing practical strategies to ensure that what happens in school 'syncs' with national initiatives. If the advice in this book is followed, then schools can be assured that they are Ofsted ready and also that all statutory requirements are met. Included in the book are pro formas that can easily be adapted for each establishment or used as they are. Each chapter concludes with a 'mini' plenary which is useful to consolidate learning and also to use as a quick reference point.

    The Perfect SENCO is a special book: it ensures that it provides up to date advice which incorporates the changing landscape of SEN. It is also educational in that it can be used as a catalyst for school improvement and evaluation, meeting the requirements of Ofsted.
    The book takes into consideration the needs of children, their outcomes being the main focus. If teachers and senior leaders implement the strategies, this will provide a co-ordinated approach for school improvement.

    I would recommend this book, without reservation, to every school.

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