The special education needs coordinator in New Zealand schools (SENCO) : who is this person and what's involved?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
Recent changes to special education in New Zealand schools have required schools to make adjustments to the ways in which they manage and provide special education programmes and services (Quinn & Ryba, 2000). In response to these changes, the role of the Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) has developed in many schools. This study focuses on the SENCO's role and provides a profile of the key tasks and people who work as SENCOs in New Zealand schools. Schools throughout New Zealand were randomly selected to respond to a nation-wide study of the role of the SENCO. A written questionnaire was used to ascertain the parameters and responsibilities of the position. Both quantitative and qualitative data were analysed to identify and illustrate the underpinning issues of the SENCOs role. It was evident that SENCOs are apparent across all school types and settings. The majority of SENCOs in the study combine their role with a number of other roles and responsibilities, and consider the time allocated to perform the SENCO's duties as insufficient. Overall, the general tenor of feeling toward the role of SENCO tends to be negative. However, a significant number find specific aspects of the role satisfying and pleasurable. Most SENCOs are employed as permanent, fulltime teachers, however few are fulltime SENCOs. Few are members of the senior management team or hold a management unit. Most are female, have had more than 10 years teaching experience, and have undertaken the role of SENCO in the last 10 years. A considerable number of SENCOs consider more time, funding, and resources are the significant factors that would assist them in their role. To this end many SENCOs have personally committed time and resources to further their knowledge, skills and efficiency.