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National Professional Qualifications (NPQs)


Mandatory for some; appropriate for all.

Special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) lead and co-ordinate a school’s provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The leadership level national professional qualification (NPQ) will become the mandatory qualification for SENCOs from September 2024, replacing the NASENCO qualification.  This was announced in the SEND and alternative provision improvement plan (SENDAP IP) published in March 2023. 

Teaching of the NPQ for SENCOs will begin in Autumn 2024. The three-year window to complete the mandatory qualification upon taking up a SENCO post will remain following the introduction of the NPQ for SENCOs.

This course is for:

  • special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs)
  • teachers interested in developing expertise in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or undertaking a SENCO role in future
  • school leaders

This course will enable you to:

  • co-ordinate special educational needs (SEN) provision throughout your school
  • work alongside other leaders to build a school culture in which pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can participate meaningfully in the full life of the school, achieve ambitious outcomes and make successful transitions to their next steps

Course content and structure

The course includes 8 topics:

  • school culture
  • statutory framework
  • identification of need
  • teaching
  • behaviour
  • leading and managing provision
  • professional development
  • implementation

The introduction of the new NPQ for SENCOs will play a key role in improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND by ensuring SENCOs consistently receive high-quality, evidence-based training. This is crucial given the central role SENCOs play in supporting pupils with SEND.

The ‘transition to national professional qualification’ document has more information about this new qualification and the requirements that SENCOs must meet. Updates on the transition can be read here.


All NPQs are taught through a blended balance of online individual learning, online seminars and face-to-face meetings and a simplified end-of-course assessment. There are two cohorts annually, starting in Autumn and Spring.

This programme last for 18 months.


The assessment process has been refreshed to reduce the workload burden on teachers while still providing an opportunity for them to apply their knowledge.

To pass an NPQ, teachers will need to engage with at least 90% of the course and complete a final assessment.


Scholarships are available to all teachers and leaders from publicly funded schools and 16 to 19 educational organisations for NPQSENCO

Click here to register your interest for September 2024