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Skip Navigation LinksPlymouth University > courses > postgraduate > PgCert The National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination
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The National Award for SEN Coordination is a Department for Education approved postgraduate qualification at Masters level for teachers in the role of special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO). New-to -role SENCOs in maintained mainstream schools must attain the Award within three years of their date of appointment as SENCO.

To achieve the National Award teachers must successfully meet all the SENCO Learning Outcomes and successfully complete two Masters level assignments.  The award is validated at Masters Level and provides 60 credits

The South West Consortium

The Award is offered through the South West Consortium consisting of Plymouth University and the University of Exeter, working in partnership with the local authorities of Bournemouth, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Plymouth, Poole and Somerset. Since 2010 470 SENCOs in the South West Consortium have attained the Award. Our evaluative evidence from SENCOs, headteachers and our external examiners suggests that the Award is having a positive impact on practice, ideas and the achievements of schools and their pupils.
Participant feedback indicates how the programme has supported professional learning and expertise, confidence, engagement with organisational expectations and leadership, teaching and learning and Ofsted evaluation requirements.
Participants experience:
  •  Six taught face to face days
  • Local LA context for learning
  • Professional learning community through face to face and virtual learning support and resources
  •  Networking with local SENCOs and sharing good practice
  •  Allocation to each student a high quality local personal tutor with extensive expertise, knowledge and experience
  •  High quality formative academic support and detailed written feedback
The National Award for SEN Coordination Logo

Entry Requirements

The SENCO programme is also open to teachers who are not SENCOs but who have an interest in the role of SENCO and leadership of special educational needs.
The course is open to qualified teachers in the role of SENCO.
Teachers who are not SENCOs must have access to pupils with special educational needs and will need the support of their headteacher. Teachers who are not SENCOs may not be able to achieve all of the SENCO Learning Outcomes in the first instance. If you are not a SENCO you should discuss this aspect of the course with the programme leader.



There is no further government funding for this Award as all CPD funding has been devolved to schools. Fees for 2013-14 are currently £2000.
Applying for a place with the South West Consortium for September 2014:
Please contact us (contact links below) for any queries, and to add your name to our ‘waiting’ list and/or for an application form.

General programme structure

There are two modules Special Educational Needs: Organisational Contexts and Special Educational Needs: Leading on Teaching and Learning. Each module consists of 3 full days’ attendance at sessions in your local authority location and we recommend 2 school focused/research/study days.
The modules are designed to explicitly relate to the SENCO Learning Outcomes.  They ensure a critical theoretical perspective while also maintaining relevant context-based practical outcomes.  The programme is strongly rooted in effective practice (locally, regionally, nationally and internationally), being up-to-date, relevant, research-based and led, taught and facilitated by people with relevant current experience, expertise and skills. Modules will draw upon local context and make use of local expertise.  The programme includes opportunities for SENCOs to apply theory to practice, to undertake practical activity in their own school and evaluate and improve their practice, and learn from effective practice in other schools.


Contact details

If you are a SENCO in Bournemouth, Dorset, Poole or would like general information about the programme or to discuss academic issues, please contact the University of Exeter programme leader Hazel Lawson at the University of Exeter
If you are a SENCO in Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, Torbay, or Somerset, or would like general information about the programme or to discuss academic issues contact the  Plymouth University programme leader Mike Murphy
James Wadham is Senior Programme Administrator for the South West Consortium and - 01752 585315
The regional leads for Plymouth University are:
Cornwall: Elaine Cole
Devon: Jeanette Savage
Plymouth: Sue Shelley
Somerset:Tina Morgan
Students are able to progress on to our International Masters Programme (IMP).