The demand for teachers, particularly those qualified in SEN (special educational needs), is growing higher and higher. This is because 40% of teachers leave the profession after only five years of teaching, and since working with SEN students requires even more skills and versatility, then the teachers who are qualified and passionate about working in an SEN environment are few and far between.
While this is worrying for recruiters, it’s great news for someone who is looking to pursue a career in special educational needs.
In addition to relevant qualifications/experiences that are necessary to become an effective SEN teacher, certain personality traits, such as patience, empathy, and adaptability, are also vital. So if you have what SEN recruiters are looking for, then you’re already in with a good chance of landing your dream job.
There are many SEN teacher or SEN teaching assistant jobs currently available, and although challenging, being an SEN teacher or TA is highly rewarding.
To help you discover whether you do have the right skills to work in an SEN environment, we have put together a list of trends that we’ve recognised within the SEN job market. This will be useful to you if you’re hoping to gain a job as a Special Educational Needs teacher or teaching assistant.
1. Use of Technology
In 2022, there are more apps and technical equipment being used in classrooms to aid the teaching of SEN students. As a teacher or TA, it will put you at an advantage when applying for a new position if you have some knowledge of useful teaching apps and are confident using tablets/computers.
Tech helps students learn visually, aurally, and kinaesthetically. On a whole, it provides a new way of learning which some students may find easier.
Technology isn’t just useful in helping students learn; it can also be a form of communication for children who are unable to speak.
An example of this is computers that talk for people by analysing their hand and eye movements. This opens up learning possibilities for students which otherwise wouldn’t have been there.
2. Work Flexibility
In schools where they’ve implemented more flexibility, 85% of teachers have reported an improvement in their well-being. However, most schools are a little behind other sectors when it comes to offering the flexibility of remote working. But, it is worth noting that due to the high demand of specialist teachers, some schools are willing to adapt working conditions to suit teachers/teaching assistants.
Additionally, if you gain a position within a school and have worked there for a certain amount of time, then you have the right to request more flexible working options.
Resources and material to assist with flexible working is becoming more accessible to allow schools to offer their staff a more flexible working environment.
3. Parental Involvement
Parents are encouraged to assist with students’ learning – they had a taste of this during Covid-19 when schools were temporarily closed – and for SEN students, parents’ support is even more vital.
Teachers/TAs need to collaborate with parents to ensure the child’s learning in school is also integrated into their home life. There needs to be continuity and consistency, particularly for SEN students, to help them develop and apply their skills in all settings, not just in school. Any learning tools that they use in school should also be available to them at home.
You, as a teacher or teaching assistant, need to share lesson plans for SEN students with parents as well as discuss learning plans, coming to arrangements that will best suit students’ needs to help them achieve their learning goals.
4. Increased Demand For SEN Teachers/TAs
The demand for specialist teachers is always fluctuating, but right now, there is an increased demand for specialist SEN teachers, which means salaries are going up.
There are a lot of students who require extra support, such as those with dyslexia or autism, so SEN teachers/teaching assistants are required as they know how to adapt to students’ different needs. Effective SEN teachers/teaching assistants are equipped with tools and methods that help SEN students meet their learning goals.
The experience gained in an SEN environment is crucial for building character along with working on the traits that, hopefully, you’ll already possess. For example, patience, empathy, enthusiasm, passion, versatility, and being a natural problem solver, are all necessary to effectively communicate and support SEN students, and these are the desired traits recruiters are looking for.
Additionally, a qualification in a relevant field, such as a degree, PGCE, or an SEN teacher certificate will help you to stand out from your competitors.
Since the number of students who require extra support is rapidly building, the demand for SEN teachers in mainstream schools is also growing. Teachers are needing to broaden their skills in order to support their students, so any extra skills that you have, such as speaking in signs or reading braille, will make you highly sought after, not only in SEN schools but also in mainstream schools.
Active SEN has many teaching and teaching assistant jobs available. If you’re interested in applying for an SEN teaching job, view our current vacancies, or upload your CV.