The role of Special Educational Needs Support Worker

Published: Friday February 17 2023 by Melanie Crewe

Special Educational Needs Support worker providing one-to-one support to young pupil

Undertaking the role of Special Educational Needs Support or Behavioural Support Worker doesn’t always require previous experience of working within education and so can be an excellent route into working within a school environment.

What is a Special Educational Needs Support worker?

A Special Educational Needs (SEND Support) worker helps children and young learners, often on a one-to-one basis, who have Special Educational Needs- these can include; autism, ADHD and behavioural issues. Some SEND pupils require full-time support, whilst others may only need part-time assistance, making it a good option for people who are looking for a greater deal of flexibility.

Special Educational Needs Support Worker with teacher, pupil and parent

A SEND Support worker will liaise closely with the teachers, the pupil and their parents to identify their specific learning needs and then plan lessons around what is being taught in class (if they are in a mainstream school). They may also work with medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and therapists so that they better understand what kind of assistance each child needs.

Special Educational Needs Support Worker with pupil and medical profession

The pupil’s learning will be monitored, tracked and assessed and then reported to all parties involved to ensure that all their individual needs are continually being met. A SEND Support Worker will help the learner to understand new concepts or support them when they get frustrated.

Over the years we have worked with staff who, at the time of registration, had little or no exposure to the education sector and have now gone on to build up an impressive wealth of experience in support roles through justteachers. Some have now gone on to gain  qualifications and work in permanent teaching posts within our partner schools.

Don’t just take our word for it!

Happy teacher with young special educational needs pupil

“In September of 2022, I took the plunge and changed my career trajectory by accepting a job at Justteachers (JT). I had never before worked with young people, instead having spent 13 years doing the same job at a GP practice. Missing out on time with my children had weighed me down for years, so I discussed the possibility of a job change with my nephew-who, at the time, was working with Justteachers. After speaking to him, I reached out to JT and the rest, as they say, is history! 

I couldn’t be happier with my new career path. Every minute I spend working with kids, making a difference in their lives, is incredibly gratifying. Thanks to JT, I now have a permanent position that has come a long way since my first job as a substitute teacher.”

Sarah, Teaching Support. February 2022. North West

What sort of education/ qualifications do I need to work in SEND Support roles?

Parent with child who has Special Educational Needs

There are no specific qualifications required to become a SEND Support worker, however the below personal and practical skills are critical to success and can be gained through a background of working within, for example, a care home, fostering a child with SEND or the support system;

-Patience, compassion and understanding

-Advanced communications skills

-Teamwork and collaboration


A SEND/ SEMH (Social, Emotional and Mental Health) Support Worker will also need the following:

-A good standard of Maths and English education for children who may have basic numeracy and literacy skills

-A good understanding of SEND and disabilities/learning difficulties

– Good knowledge of how schools operate since they will be working closely with the school staff team. This includes knowing the structure of the curriculum, general school rules and procedures.

– A sensitivity towards Special Educational Needs children. A SEND Support Worker should have a lot of empathy for vulnerable young people because they will often find it difficult to adjust or cope within an education environment.

There are a huge amount of transferable skills within occupations that can be utilised within both SEND and SEMH Settings that would make you a successful Special Educational Needs Support worker- for a full list of what we know our schools may consider, take a look at the following:

Occupations considered for SEND support roles

Occupations considered for SEMH roles

What support is available for someone looking to change career paths into SEND?

justteachers recruitment consultant interviewing a special educational needs support worker and offering advice

Your Justteachers Specialist SEND Consultant will be there to support you from day one- they know their School settings inside out and what sort of person will fit into each unique setting. At the point of registration, you will have access to a plethora of resources to include: safeguarding training, supply work preparation documents and checklists, one-to-one interview coaching and trial days within schools to ensure you feel aligned with the setting before you make any commitments.

We will continually share resources and information via blogs and social media platforms too, so make sure you keep an eye out! These include resources from; Nasen, Gov.UK, Twinkl and Tes.

What are the next steps?

If, after reviewing this information, you feel that your background and personal qualities are a good fit for a SEND or SEMH Support role, speak to our SEND specialist teams in branch for your local area. Make sure you contact us, send us your cv details, or if you are still unsure, take a look at some detailed job specifications by carrying out a local jobs search with justteachers.

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