Learners First in partnership with the University of Huddersfield

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2021/22 COHORT

Following the success of the first cohorts in 2020/21, Learners First is delighted to be again working in partnership with the University of Huddersfield to offer this exciting opportunity to schools and academies subscribing to the 2021/22 Learners First offer. The programme will be delivered locally through a combination of online and distance learning, face to face delivery and learning walks within school settings.

The application form for Expressions of Interest is now open and will close on the 1st December 2021.



The course will allow participants to develop their knowledge and understanding of a range of special educational needs and disabilities, as well as examining inclusive practices and current policy. It covers key concepts in leadership, multi-agency working, working with families with a focus on the strategic role of the SENCo within education settings. This course develops participants’ knowledge and expertise in the area of special educational needs and disability (SEND), while fulfilling the Department for Education requirements for the role of special educational needs co-ordination (SENCo). The 2015 Special Educational Needs Code of Practice stipulates that schools must provide a qualified SENCo, and for SENCos new to the role, it is mandatory to gain this award within three years of taking up the role. This course will support SENCos and aspiring SENCos to develop their knowledge and understanding of a range of special educational needs and disabilities. It also covers key concepts in leadership, supporting students to fulfil the strategic role required of SENCos in schools.

There are two modules, each worth 30 credits at Master’s level. These are:


In this module, participants will explore and analyse inclusion, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and the role of the special educational needs coordinator (SENCo). Participants will critically evaluate appropriate policy and legislation and how this has influenced the development of provision and practice. Participants will develop an in-depth understanding of definitions and theories of inclusion, and analyse how these align with disability rights, human rights and equality legislation. Participants will investigate how the needs arising from specific SEND conditions are culturally, socially and historically defined, and what this means for educational practice. Participants will reflect on how best to enable student progress and achievement, as well as examining and developing school approaches.


In this module, Participants will develop a critical understanding of the strategic role of the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). This will involve an exploration of current education policy and the processes of leadership within educational settings. Participants’ studies will enable them to develop a critical awareness of the issues of developing and strategically leading whole school Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision. Participants will evaluate the key role played by the SENCo in multi-agency working, and consider how the SEND Code of Practice supports effective working with parents, senior leaders, governors and other professionals.

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Both modules are assessed through written work based on participants’ own practice within their school/setting. Participants will be asked to relate theory and policy to SEND provision in their setting and reflect on how they might effect change and foster a culture of inclusion within their school. Participants will also complete a work-based practice portfolio evidencing your experience, knowledge and skills against the SENCo learning outcomes. These are set by the government, and are available here.



All participants must meet the entry requirements for the SENCo award as defined by National Association for Special Educational Needs Coordination (NASEN). This is available at (and includes: All entrants must have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and be working as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) or assistant SENCO or able to closely shadow a SENCO).

  • An honours level degree at 2:2 or above
  • Qualified Teacher Status
  • Confirmation of support from your headteacher. All entrants must have written commitment from their Head Teacher to release the applicant for the appropriate time to fulfil course study requirements.
  • Be currently working as a SENCo or deputy SENCo. (If you are not working as a SENCo currently, then it may be possible for you to join the course. However, places on the Learners First SENCo programme will be prioritised for those currently working within the role.)
  • Not have already undertaken the SENCo qualification
  • If your first language is not English, you will need to meet the minimum requirements of an English Language qualification (more information about this and details about entry requirements for students outside the UK can be found on the University’s website)


As with the first cohort, due to restrictions on the maximum numbers within each cohort and the nature of the programme places will be limited in the first instance to one member of staff per institution. Learners First reserves the right to prioritise places on this programme for those applicants who are currently holding SENCo roles in schools/academies.

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The full cost of the programme is £2,300. However, for participants from schools/academies subscribing to Learners First this cost is available at the heavily subsidised rate of £1,300 per participant. The employing school/academy will be invoiced for this subsidised amount on registration to the programme. Should a participant withdraw or fail to complete the programme the employing school/academy may be liable for the full cost of the programme.



Step 1: Register of Interest via Learners First

Colleagues interested in applying for a place on the programme and who meet ALL eligibility criteria are required to complete an online registration of interest form. The deadline for Expressions of Interest is 1st December 2021.

To register an interest in the programme, please complete the form via the link below:

Step 2: Formal Application via the University of Huddersfield

Registrations of interest will be reviewed and colleagues notified of the outcome by 3rd December 2021. Colleagues successfully passing the initial sift will be invited to complete the formal registration with the University of Huddersfield. The deadline for all formal registrations to be completed is the 10th December 2021. Colleagues will be notified of their place on the programme before the end of the autumn term.

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The programme will commence in January 2022 and run over two terms. All teaching days start at 9.30am and conclude by 3.30pm.

Module 1

  • Friday 7th January 2022
  • Thursday 27th January 2022
  • Wednesday 2nd March 2022

 Module 2

  • Tuesday 3rd May 2022
  • Thursday 9th June 2022


There is directed study in between face to face sessions (e.g. through pre-recorded materials) as well as group tutorials. The total teaching time for the course is equivalent to 10 days (5 ‘live’ days and 5 completed by students independently).



A huge ‘congratulations’ to all SENCOs from the 2020/21 Learners First cohort who have now been awarded their Postgraduate Certificate in Special Education Needs Coordination. All colleagues should be commended for the quality of their work and their commitment to the course, despite the difficult circumstances thrown at them by working and studying during a global pandemic. We look forward to celebrating these achievements at the graduation ceremony on the 15th January where colleagues will receive their Post Graduate Certificate in Special Educational Needs Coordination.

Colleagues now have 12 months to complete their Work-based Practice Portfolio to achieve their additional qualification of National SENCo Award. This qualification requires them to complete a portfolio of evidence of how they are meeting SENCo learning outcomes in their day-to-day work.

Well done from all at Learners First!