Back to Programmes


Our National Professional Qualification (NPQ) for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) is designed for experienced teachers and leaders who are seeking to develop their expertise in leading special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision in their school, or to become a SENCO.

NPQs at the National Institute of Teaching are school-led: our organisation was founded by four leading Multi-Academy Trusts, and our programmes are designed and delivered with a focus on the realities of schools. Because teachers’ time is precious, our programmes are respectful of your time, and designed to have immediate impact on the pupils and colleagues in your school, as well as the colleagues and children you will work with in the future.

Aspiring Middle Leader, Middle Leader, Aspiring Senior Leader, Senior Leader
National Professional Qualification for SENCOs
Start Date:
October 2024
Programme Length:
18 months
  • Overview
  • Why study at the NIoT?
  • Who is it for?
  • What you'll learn
  • How you'll learn
  • Time commitment
  • Location
  • Assessment
  • How to apply
  • Funding


In too many settings, pupils with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) do not progress in line with their peers without SEND. The work of a great SENCO can support these pupils who most require support to flourish socially and academically. SENCOs perform a critical role in every school in the UK, both in the bespoke support for some pupils with SEND and in their promotion of teaching, curriculum and behaviour approaches that work for all pupils, including those with SEND.

The NPQ for SENCOs will ensure you are ready to take on this vital, statutory role in any school setting. You will understand and be able to undertake all statutory aspects of the role, as well as to lead practices across the whole school that benefit all pupils, including those with SEND, such as embedding instructional practices that lead to the greatest pupil progress. Throughout the qualification, you will be led by expert, experienced SENCOs to help you secure the practices and approaches for you to lead this area across a school. By working to improve the practice of all school colleagues, you will have a dramatic impact on the potential outcomes and opportunities open to young people with SEND needs.

Why study at the NIoT?

The National Institute of Teaching was founded by four leading multi-academy trusts. Our programmes are underpinned by leading research and driven by what we have found works best in schools. Through our programmes, we aim to ensure participants develop their leadership to ensure their hard work and dedication has the maximum impact on pupils.

Our programmes are school-led: they are delivered by individuals who work in schools, right now. That means they have the in-depth, domain-specific knowledge to help you grapple with content at the right level, and to support you to problem-solve and apply learning to your own context.

Our programmes are centred on impact: our aim is for your practice to improve and develop in your current context, and for you to be ready and to take the next step in your career as a result of learning with us. We have designed our programmes carefully, and work closely with school leaders through our regional structures, as well as working with participants, to ensure our programmes are impactful in your context.

Our programmes are respectful of your time: we know you spend most of your time doing the most important job there is – serving the children in your community. That’s why our programmes are designed to be flexible, to deliver exactly what you need in the most time-efficient manner possible, and to have impact.

Our programmes are rooted in research: every aspect of what you learn is based on the best available research as well as what we have seen and experienced to work best in our founding multi-academy trusts and associate colleges.

Our programmes allow you to build a community: our in-person local seminars are focused on peer learning and problem solving together. As well as applying your learning to your own context, you will have the opportunity to build your network and support one another’s development beyond your time learning with the NIoT.

Who is it for?

The NPQ for SENCOs is mandatory for all practising and aspiring SENCOs*. They will need to complete this qualification within their first three years in the role.

*Please note that SENCOs who have already obtained the NASENCO qualification do not need to complete the NPQ for SENCOs, as well as SENCOs appointed before 1 September 2009.

What you'll learn

  • How to create a culture of high expectations and achievement for all pupils, allowing those with SEND to flourish
  • How to enact the statutory framework and meet all compliance aspects of the role of SENCO
  • How to deploy colleagues and resources to support individual pupils to overcome particular barriers
  • Reviewing pupil progress and adjusting plans in consultation with stakeholders
  • Supporting teachers and leaders to plan and adapt lessons to suit the needs of all pupils
  • Fostering the motivation of pupils with SEND and ensuring they are supported by school culture and climate
  • How to lead, monitor and review whole-school SEND provision and practices

How you'll learn

Local seminars: extend your learning with an expert, school leader facilitator, build your network and apply your learning to your own context.

Virtual school visits: visit some of the country’s leading schools, learning about how they have developed and improved their practice over time to deliver exceptional outcomes and experiences for young people.

Online masterclasses: hear school-based sector experts sharing best practice from their context and experience.

Online group coaching: apply your learning to scenarios and to your own context, with the feedback and guidance of an expert school-based coach.

Online self-studies: learn cutting-edge research and how it is being applied successfully in schools.

Time commitment

There are two or three scheduled events every half term, some online and some in-person, and around six to eight hours of self study.


Please contact so that we can let you know your nearest National Institute of Teaching delivery school or centre.

We can confirm that we will be delivering NPQs in schools near the following locations:

North and West: Blackburn, Preston, Bolton, Wigan, Manchester, Liverpool, Leyland and Skelmersdale

South, East and London: Corby, Norwich, London and South Essex

North and East: Tyne & Wear, County Durham, Hartlepool, Redcar, Halifax, Doncaster, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire

South and West: Bath & North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Somerset, Birmingham, Bristol, Devon, Cornwall, Swindon, South Staffordshire, Dudley, Sandwell, Worcester and Walsall

More locations will be added regularly; please check back/apply and we’ll confirm if there’s delivery near you.


In order to receive NPQ for SENCOs accreditation, participants will need to complete the programme and achieve a pass mark in a written, ‘open book’ style, structured assessment of up to 2,000 words.

We will support participants with writing clinics before they embark on gaining their accreditation.

The assessment itself takes place over an eight-day window. 

How to apply

Applications are not yet open for this programme. Please register your interest here to be the first to know when applications open.


Funding update for Autumn 2024:

The DfE has now confirmed that all state schools are eligible for fully-funded places on the NPQ for SENCOs Autumn 2024 cohort.

We are expecting more details from the DfE in the summer on the practical arrangements on how funding will work, and will update this page as soon as we have this. In the meantime you can find the DfE messaging here.

Contact us

Please get in touch to find out more about our programmes and find out where we are delivering them near you.

We use cookies to provide certain features, enhance the user experience. By clicking on "Agree and continue", you declare your consent to the use of these cookies. Below, you can change the settings or revoke your consent (in part if necessary) and these will be saved for future use. For further information, please refer to our Privacy Policy.