Factors influencing the career interest of SENCos in English schools

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A named professional with responsibility for overseeing and coordinating the educational inclusion of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities has become an important school role in many countries. In England, the SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) became a mandatory role in 1994, and associated mandatory training was introduced in 2009. A questionnaire survey of 618 in-training and actual SENCOs revealed that their motivating interest in becoming a SENCO varied. An exploratory factor analysis of 32 items covering different interests in the role yielded four interest factors in becoming a SENCO – outward facing factors (‘inclusion’ and ‘high quality provision’) and inward facing factors (‘educational and professional development’ and ‘leadership voice and status’). The outward facing factors were viewed as more important to respondents than the inward facing factors. Interest factors did not interact with organisational variables including age group taught and school quality. Nevertheless, younger SENCOs and those engaged in training were more motivated by educational and professional development. SENCOs holding school leadership contracts were more motivated in developing leadership voice and status compared with their classroom teacher peers. Moreover, there was a significant overall difference with women reporting a higher interest than men across all factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1256-1278
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number6
Early online date13 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • SENCO, career interest, factor analysis, inclusion, special educational needs, disability
  • factor analysis
  • inclusion
  • career interest
  • disability
  • special educational needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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