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The new NPQ for SENCOs is the mandatory qualification for anyone who wishes to qualify and work as a SENCO in state schools, from 1 September 2024.

The Department for Education has outlined that all SENCOs will need to complete the NPQ within three years of appointment, or have successfully completed the National Award for SEN Coordination, having started the course before 1 September 2024.

By studying this National Professional Qualification (NPQ), you will gain the knowledge and practical skills to lead inclusive education and have a lasting impact on your students. You’ll develop your expertise, drive positive change and foster collaboration, with both internal teams and external partners, to deliver exceptional support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

In partnership with Teach First, our NPQ SENCO course offers flexible, online learning, led by experienced tutors. Learn at your own pace and from anywhere, while collaborating and sharing best practices with a national network of SENCOs and SEND experts.

The application deadline is 17 September 2024 although you should apply as soon as possible. The course will start in October 2024.

How will you benefit from the NPQ SENCO qualification?

  • Grow your expertise as a leader of SEND: Broaden your leadership knowledge and develop expertise across areas such as the identification of SEND and leading and managing provision.
  • Create a culture where pupils with SEND can thrive: Learn how to establish and sustain a supportive culture where everyone feels welcome, safe and that they belong.
  • Learn about the statutory framework for SEND: Develop confidence to give statutory guidance and ensure that school policies and practices take account of the relevant legislation.
  • Develop effective working partnerships: Explore approaches to working collaboratively with colleagues, families, external agencies and specialists in a whole-school approach.

Study style and dates

In partnership with

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+44 (0)1273 35 80 80

Blended learning

Independent study, online seminars and two in-person conferences.

Info and dates

Application deadline: 17 September 2024.

Course start: October 2024

Course content

Following the Department for Education’s NPQ SENCO framework, this programme will enable you to:

  • Coordinate special educational needs provision throughout your school.
  • Work alongside other leaders to build a school culture in which pupils with SEND can participate meaningfully in the full life of the school, achieve ambitious outcomes and make successful transitions to their next steps.
  • Understand and implement relevant statutory legislation
  • Work with practising SENCOs and inclusion experts to turn new learning into changes in your own and others’ practice.
  • Access a blended learning programme that is full of practical and tangible examples, that is both flexible and tailored to your needs and areas for development.

Modules include:

  • Developing an inclusive school culture
  • Implementation
  • Statutory framework
  • Identification and assessment of SEND
  • Teaching (parts A and B)
  • Behaviour
  • Working in partnership
  • Leading and managing provision
  • Professional development

For further information, please read our detailed content breakdown.

Course details

How is the NPQ SENCO course delivered?

The course consists of ten modules, delivered by blended learning. Each module involves approximately four hours of independent study. You’ll then engage in an online seminar, where you can discuss your learning with peers and experienced SEN leaders. Ongoing support is also available to ensure your success on the programme.

Each module features:

  • Evidence-based online content to refresh and build knowledge, as well as exemplify what this looks like in your context.
  • A formative assessment task to support your learning.
  • Online seminars with a group of peers, facilitated by an experienced school leader and SENCO. You’ll analyse and reflect on the task and hear further examples of good practice.
  • The opportunity to consolidate your learning and record reflections.

This structure offers opportunities to consider effective implementation as well as discrete learning, focused on theory and practice. This will help you to apply your learning and plan a strategic improvement focused on your context and pupils.

The programme also includes two in-person conferences which will be held at a venue in London and visits to different settings.

In total, you will complete 85 hours of training over 18 months.

How will you be assessed?

At the end of the 18-month course you will have an assessment window of three months in which to complete a case study. There’s no large project to complete and the case study is your opportunity to showcase the skills and understanding you have gained throughout the course. It will be focused on a specific change initiative that will positively impact your setting and will be between 1,500 and 2,000 words in length. Tutors will be on hand to offer full support to help you prepare for this.

There are two assessment windows each year and should it be necessary, you could sit the assessment twice.

Detailed content overview

Build your understanding of supporting pupils with SEND:

  • Develop a clear and ambitious vision for inclusion in your context and community. 
  • Implement an efficient identification and assessment process 
  • Support the delivery of effective provision and evidence-informed interventions 
  • Use a range of data to monitor and evaluate the impact of support.

Grow your skills as a leader of SEND:

  • Contribute to a positive and supportive school culture where staff and pupils can thrive
  • Help ensure the school’s strategic direction sets ambitious standards for pupils with SEND 
  • Work with other leaders to support effective curriculum planning and high-quality teaching 
  • Enable teachers and support staff to implement the graduated approach 
  • Support senior leaders to enact statutory guidance, including preparation of the SEND Information report and SEN policy.
  • Work in partnership with other stakeholders including parents, external agencies and specialists

Draw on a range of experiences and research to inform decision-making in your context

  • All modules are rooted in insights from academic research and best available evidence
  • You’ll have the opportunity to visit contrasting settings to observe and understand SEND expertise in different contexts
  • We’ll provide diverse exemplification of SEND leadership throughout, showcasing a variety of phases and contexts, including mainstream schools and specialist settings.  
  • As part of each module, you’ll complete a formative assessment task and consider how to apply new learning to your context.

Free one-to-one support and coaching

If you work in a school serving disadvantaged communities, you may be able to access free one-to-one support which runs alongside the NPQ for SENCOs. This free support comes in the form of an experienced former school leader with strategic SEN experience who will coach and guide you throughout the programme.

Join a passionate network striving for educational equality

Share experiences with other school leaders and experienced SENCOs, learn how they’ve faced similar challenges and build a professional network that will support you throughout your career.

Are you eligible?

This course is ideal for:

  • Those working in the SENCO role who need to achieve their qualification

and may be of interest if you are:

  • An aspiring SENCO (whether or not you have secured a SENCO role)
  • In a non-statutory ‘SENCO’ role for example in an independent school, special school, alternative provision setting or 16-19 organisation
  • Supporting your setting’s SENCO, either formally as a deputy SENCO or leading a particular area of SEND provision within the school
  • The Line Manager of a SENCO or other senior leaders with responsibility for curriculum, behaviour, pastoral needs or managing provision
  • Outside of a school setting but working closely with SENCOs for example in a local authority

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

You do not need to hold QTS to access this course. However, in the vast majority of cases the course is not likely to be appropriate for teaching assistants and teachers without QTS, as QTS is a requirement to be a SENCO. This course is also unlikely to be suitable for staff who coordinate SEND for adult-only education, or lead disability provision in a non-education setting.

Non-leadership roles

The DfE advise that ‘Classroom teachers with an interest in Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) may benefit from the course, for example, if they have aspirations to move into a coordinating or leadership role. Please note that this is a leadership qualification and there is significant content around the strategic element of the SENCO role, including working with and through others. If you are more interested in developing individual skills to support students with SEND in your own classroom, other courses may be more suitable.’

International delegates

At this time, Real Training is not offering this course to international participants however our International Award for SEN Coordination (iSENCO) is specifically designed for those working to coordinate or manage SEND in international schools.

Why choose Real Training for your NPQ SENCO?

Real Training has an established reputation for the delivery of high-quality SEND and SENCO training, built over 20 years, by providing world-class professional development and special needs training to educators around the world. In addition to SEND expertise, you’ll also have access to contributions by our team of Educational Psychologists at the in-person conferences you will attend.

Our courses are taught online, allowing you to access your studies at whatever time or place suits you best, and schedule your learning to fit around your work and personal commitments.

How much does the NPQ SENCO course cost?

DfE NPQ scholarship funding

Nationally there is a strict limit on the number of DfE scholarships that are available for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (NPQ for SENCOs).

Real Training has been allocated 35 fully-funded scholarship places. In the interests of transparency, these places will be allocated on a first come first served basis to those who hold QTS and are new to the SENCO role or are aspiring to be a SENCO.  

For further information, and to check if your setting is eligible for scholarship funding, please see the information on funding for NPQs on the GOV.UK website.

For those not prioritised or eligible for a funded place, the cost is £1,265 + VAT. This is a subsidised rate offered by the DfE.

When does the course start?

The course will start in October 2024.

How long does it take to complete the NPQ SENCO?

This is an 18 month programme, followed by a 3 to 4-month assessment window. This makes it 21-22 months in total.


If you are currently studying, or have already achieved the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO) you will not need to complete the SENCO NPQ.

SENCOs appointed prior to 1 September 2009, or those that have already completed, or are in the process of completing the National Award for SEN Coordination, are not required to study the NPQ.

How do I apply?

  • Please complete the form below with your contact and school details.
  • Once we have received your application, you will receive a login to Campus Online, our virtual learning platform, where you’ll provide some additional information required for your registration.
  • We will ask for details of your Headteacher as they will need to approve your enrolment onto the NPQ.
  • You will also need to register with the Department for Education (we’ll guide you through this process).
  • We will then review your completed registration and confirm your place on the course.

Apply here

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About Teach First

We are delighted to partner with Teach First on the delivery of this SENCO NPQ. We chose a strategic partnership with Teach First because Teach First qualifications have an excellent reputation and our values and missions are aligned. Teach First Impact Goals include narrowing the attainment and destination gap for disadvantaged children, with a particular focus on those facing persistent disadvantage. We all appreciate that children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities commonly face the most disadvantage in the Education system. Together we plan to make a positive difference.

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