University of Chester

Programme Specification
National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (SENCO) PGCert
2015 - 2016

Postgraduate Certificate

National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (SENCO)

National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (SENCO)

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester campuses;  educational and professional settings

Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year

3 Years

Triannual - January - May - October




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Academic and Professional Programmes

QAA (2010) Master’s Degree characteristics

Academic and Professional Programmes Postgraduate Module Assessment Board

Wednesday 22nd July 2015

  • 1. To enhance skills, knowledge and understanding about Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in a climate of change.
  • 2. To employ a practice-based approach to professional development which will improve outcomes and real-life chances for children, young people and adults with SEN and disabilities in education, training or employment.
  • 3. To add capacity to professional potential in mainstream and special school settings, Further Education (FE), Higher Education (HE) and adult learning environments.



At the end of the programme students will have:

  • Critically engaged with policy and practice and demonstrated informed perspectives about Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in educational settings.
  • Interrogated, examined and applied a range of theoretical ideas and frameworks for thinking conceptually about the process of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in different contexts.
  • Developed key knowledge, understanding and skills in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
  • Identified approaches to promote and evaluate impact, influence and outcomes.

In all taught modules:

Knowledge and Understanding

  • Critically engaged with theoretical frameworks and literature;
  • Harnessed insights into subject knowledge;
  • Critically reflected on the ways in which research methodology supports professional enquiry;
  • Applied critical considerations when undertaking research;
  • Made effectual use of professional learning to assess impact on practice.

(CD7701, CD7702, CD7703)

In all taught modules:

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

  • Made critical use of research evidence;
  • Formulated valid conclusions that link theory to practice;
  • Thought independently about essential issues, concepts and ideas.

Improving own learning and performance

  • Critically reflected on professional practice;
  • Developed new pedagogical and leadership skills;
  • Used initiative and managed own learning;
  • Made independent use of supervision.

Problem solving

  • Generated and applied new knowledge;
  • Analysed complex concepts.

(CD7701, CD7702, CD7703)

In all taught modules:

Practical Skills

  • Critically reflected upon aspects of professional practice in the light of key theoretical perspectives;
  • Made effectual use of professional learning to assess impact on practice.

Transferable Professional Skills

The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:

  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
  • Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations;
  • The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development

Working with others

  • Engaged in group presentations and disseminations;
  • Worked with professional colleagues to share ideas, research and good practice

(CD7701, CD7702, CD7703)

In all taught modules:


  • Written to academic standards required at level 7;
  • Engaged in meaningful debate and critical discussion;
  • Read critically;
  • Synthesised written and oral information;
  • Maintained a learning journal where appropriate.


Application of Number

  • Selected and used appropriate research methodology, methods and applications for data handling.

Information Literacy and Technology

  • Used the University's VLE to access information;
  • Used electronic research skills;
  • Accessed databases for research and information;
  • Used the University's e-Portfolio to maintain a professional learning journal where appropriate.

    (CD7701, CD7702, CD7703)

The Postgraduate Certificate National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (SENCO) is designed primarily for teachers serving in all types of schools including academies and Free Schools, who have an interest in, or a responsibility for, SEN, as well as those working in special schools and settings including early years, who wish to meet the learning outcomes of The National Award for SEN Co-ordination.

There are 3 x 20 credit core modules, all at level 7 of the FHEQ.

Professional Knowledge and Understanding;

Leading and Managing SEN;

Developing a Positive Ethos and Culture. 

The learning outcomes of the National Award  have been embedded in the three modules of the Postgraduate Certificate.   

The modules will run consecutively over the year in the following order CD7701, CD7702 and CD770.

In addition, to gain the National Awards in Special Educational Needs Co-ordination, students must complete the Portfolio Assessment against SENCO Requirements Report (CD7799), which must be signed by the programme leader.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
CD7799 0 National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination Portfolio 0 N/A
CD7701 7 Professional Knowledge and Understanding 20 Comp
CD7702 7 Leading and Managing Provision 20 Comp
CD7703 7 Developing a Positive Ethos and Culture 20 Comp

  • 60 Credits at level 7 (CD7701, CD7702 and CD7703) and successful completion of the Portfolio Assessment against SENCO Requirements Report (CD7799) entitles the student to a Postgraduate Certificate National Award for SEN Co-ordination.
  • 60 credits at level 7 (CD7701, CD7702 and CD7703) without successful completion of the Portfolio Assessment against SENCO Requirements Report entitles the student to the exit award of Postgraduate Certificate in Special Educational Needs and Disability.

The Postgraduate Certificate National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (SENCO) is open to graduates with a teaching qualification who have professional experience in working with children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities. 

Applicants will normally be working in, or aspiring to, a leadership role in an SEN context or, wishing to acquire specialist knowledge and skills.

International students will need to evidence a recent IELTS score of no less than 7.0

There are no QAA benchmark statements for postgraduate study specific to Education. The Postgraduate Certificate draws on and extends the QAA (2010) Master's degree characteristics at Level 7 assuring the achievements represented by the qualification are appropriate and represented consistently.

Postgraduate awards at level 7are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of research around educational leadership
  • A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship
  • Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge about leadership
  • Conceptual understanding that enables the student to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship about leadership and to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, making sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level
  • Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

The Postgraduate Certificate National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (SENCO) aims to develop an individual's professional knowledge, skills and understanding in relation to special education in their current context by building on the significant experience and expertise which they will bring with them to the course.

At the heart of all teaching and learning on the Postgraduate Certificate National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (SENCO) are the essential skills of critical analysis and reflection. The Programme's learning and teaching strategies aim to enable students to draw on the knowledge and experience they gain in the context of their own professional environment in order to draw out the learning and to help them to link this to theory, research and policy. In doing so, a reflective and critical approach to professional issues and concerns is fostered. To do this, tutors will provide 'safe' opportunities for views and beliefs to be discussed and challenged and for both understanding and insight to be achieved. In particular students will consider personal constructions of difference.

Approaches used on the Programme are informed by accepted adult learning principles and learning and teaching methods  are designed to engage self-directed learners in utilising previous and current experience  to address real-life issues and approaches to problem solving in their own workplace. This  approach is characterised by reflective, active learning, participative group work and creative methods of encouraging learning, together with the setting of tasks that are relevant to the individual student's needs.  A range of methodologies is employed which takes account of best practice and is compliant and the Faculty's Pedagogical Position Statement (2015). 

These methods include:

  • Lectures
  • Group work
  • Presentations, discussions, debates
  • Directed tasks
  • Written assignments
  • Independent research
  • Setting-based teaching and learning activities
  • Personal contextualised reflection
  • Individual or group tutorials
  • Students leading parts of sessions
  • Formative self- and peer assessment
  • Use of the University 's Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) including dedicated module sites providing a range of specific materials to support learning.

Blended learning

Learning undertaken at the University is in a technology-rich environment that creates a flexible approach to learning for part-time students.

We will maximise the advantages of module learning spaces for group and individual online activity linked to learning tasks. Reflection and online aspects of teaching, learning and assessment will increase in line with the advancement of the University's VLE. We are committed to offering a range of teaching and learning experiences and will continue to accommodate face-to-face interaction, peer learning and group work.

The Faculty of Education and Children's Services is committed to principles of assessment set out in the Handbook of Requirements Governing the Assessment of Students.

Assessment of Prior Learning (APL)
There is no APL permitted for this Postgraduate Certificate.


The Postgraduate Certificate employs assessment task E

Assessment task E


Element 1 A Professional Portfolio

Element 2 A Critical Commentary (100% combined)

Each assessment will require students to measure the impact of their practice by completing an impact enquiry in addition to the submission. 


In addition, to gain the National Award in SEN Co-ordination, must complete the portfolio Assessment against SENCo Requirements Report (Appendix D) which must be signed by the programme leader.

Holders of the qualification will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for leading special educational provision in educational and other settings requiring the exercise of initiative and responsibility and decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations. They will work from a value system that respects individual differences in children and young people and has a empathetic understanding of family and cultural diversity.

Students will be knowledgeable, reflective professionals with a commitment to their own continuing professional development and that of others.

The University of Chester is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The Programme embeds the learning outcomes for the National Award for SEN Co-ordination. 

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