Job type

Special needs teacher

£26k - £44k

Typical salary

36 – 38

Hours per week

Special needs teachers or special educational needs (SEN) teachers work with children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities.

More info

  • Work with children and young people who need extra support
  • You'll need planning/organisational skills and to be creative
  • You could become deputy head or headteacher

As a special needs teacher, you'll work with children who have: mild to moderate learning difficulties, learning difficulties such as dyslexia, physical disabilities, hearing or visual impairment, or challenging emotions or behaviour. You could work in a mixed class, a special class in a mainstream school, a special needs school or further education college. You may teach individual pupils or small groups, often supported by a teaching assistant.


  • Teaching national curriculum subjects
  • Helping pupils develop self-confidence, independence and skills
  • Preparing lessons and teaching materials
  • Marking and assessing work
  • Working with medical staff, therapists and psychologists
  • Talking to parents and carers about a child's progress
  • Attending meetings, statutory reviews and training workshops
  • Organising outings, social activities and sporting events


You'll often spend extra time planning lessons, marking work and taking part in school activities. Most opportunities for SEN teaching are in mainstream schools, where you could become an SEN co-ordinator or head of department. Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You'll need

This role would be ideal for someone with planning and organisational skills, creativity, and the ability to manage classes and deal with challenging behaviour.

You'll need to pass numeracy and literacy skills tests and pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults.

To teach pupils with hearing impairment, vision impairment or multi-sensory impairment, you'll need further specialist qualifications.

If you're a qualified teacher, you can get extra training to teach pupils with special educational needs. Many local education authorities offer courses for teachers who want to do this.

You can do an undergraduate degree that leads to qualified teacher status (QTS), for example Bachelor of Education (BEd), Bachelor of Arts (BA) with QTS or Bachelor of Science (BSc) with QTS.

You can also complete a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE), if you have a first degree without QTS. This is a common choice and can be done at university or on a school-based training programme.

There are more training options if you want to change career or specialise in teaching certain subjects.

Most teaching courses include options on teaching children with special educational needs.

Alternatively, you can get into this career through one of a small number of postgraduate teaching apprenticeships, if you have a degree.

You could also start as a teaching assistant and do a part-time degree. From there, you can move onto a postgraduate teaching course to qualify as a teacher.

You'll find it helpful to get some experience of working with young people through paid work or volunteering at a school, youth club or on a holiday scheme. Do-it has more information on volunteering opportunities in your area.


You could become a special needs co-ordinator, head of department, deputy head or headteacher in your school, through training and promotion.