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NPQ SENCO qualification – latest update

New SENCO qualification coming in autumn 2024

In March 2023, the Government announced that a new mandatory NPQ SENCO qualification will be replacing the current NASENCO award. This will come into effect from September 2024 as part of its SEND and alternative provision improvement plan.

This represents a significant change to the current SENCO training landscape and will bring the NASENCO away from being a standalone qualification, aligning it more closely with the other leadership NPQs. The Government has now confirmed that the NPQ SENCO will take 18 months, plus a 3-4 month assessment window. There will still be the same three-year period to complete the training, once you have started in the role.

It’s worth noting that this means the earliest intake who will gain the new qualification will do so by August 2026 (December 2026 for anyone that needs to re-take). The NASENCO is currently the swiftest way to become a qualified SENCO. Real Training’s NASENCO course offers start dates in May and July.

The course will cover the following main areas:

  • School culture
  • Statutory framework
  • Identification of need
  • Teaching
  • Behaviour
  • Leading and managing provision
  • Professional development
  • Implementation

You can find more details in the published framework.

What are the National Professional Qualifications (NPQs)?

NPQs are a set of voluntary, national qualifications designed for teachers at all levels that typically last twelve or eighteen months. In the words of the DfE, the NPQs are designed to “support teachers and leaders to develop expertise in specialist areas of teaching and school leadership.” There are currently eight NPQs, all of which have been independently reviewed by the EEF (Education Endowment Foundation). 

In September 2023, the Government released a high-level framework for what the NPQ SENCO will cover – details of which can be found here.


An image showing a NASENCO working with a pupil 

What does this mean for current, qualified SENCOs?

The Government has made it clear that it is not a requirement for existing SENCOs who have completed NASENCO to retrain (or those who were already in the role prior to 2009).

Do new or aspiring SENCOs have to take the NPQ SENCO?

It depends on the timing. SEN Coordinators who started in the role in 2023 or who plan to start in 2024 are being advised to take the NASENCO as long as they sign up before the new Autumn academic term. 

Alternatively, they could choose to wait for the NPQ, but they must sign up to it by Spring 2025.

If you have already enrolled in or started a NASENCO course in the 2023/2024 academic year, the Government will continue to recognise your award, so long as you complete it within three years of having stepped into the SENCO role.

Currently, you can undertake NASENCO training without being the named SENCO in your setting. It is unclear whether this will be the case for the NPQ SENCO qualification.

How will the NPQ SENCO be funded?

The Government has confirmed that funding for the Autumn 2024 cohort will be available for teachers and school leaders in state-funded settings in England. You can find out more on their NPQ funding page.

Is Real Training planning to deliver the NPQ SENCO course?

Real Training have an ‘In principle’ agreement with one of the NPQ SENCO Lead Providers. This will be finalised as soon as the DfE confirms the number of funded places available for each of the providers. This should be in the next few weeks. To stay up to date, please email us to be the first to know!
The Government is still recommending that delegates sign up for the NASENCO qualification. For anyone looking to undertake training in the short to medium term, you can find more useful information on our NASENCO course page.

Page updated: 3rd June 2024.