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National Professional Qualification for SENCOs (NPQ SENCO)

We’re pleased to announce that we are partnering with education charity Ambition Institute to deliver the new NPQ for SENCOs.

This is a new course designed for SENCOs. It begins in autumn 2024 and replaces the NASENCO qualification.

Become an expert leader of special educational needs and learn how you can build an inclusive culture in your school where all pupils can succeed.

  • A new 18-month leadership qualification
  • Build on your existing SEND expertise
  • Flexible learning to suit your timetable
  • Fully funded for autumn 2024

Why this programme?

Choose our NPQ for SENCOs and you’ll be joining over 29,000 teachers and school leaders who’ve selected one of the new and reformed Ambition Institute NPQs as of March 2024.

Evidence informed curriculum

Our carefully sequenced and evidence informed NPQ is designed around the key problems you face. You'll learn to implement tailored SEND strategies related to your school’s context.

Access the latest SEND research

This includes core school leadership domains like teaching, behaviour and culture, alongside specialist SEND knowledge on topics like identifying need, running effective intervention and working within the law.

Train to your timetable

Our ‘little and often’ approach means you can engage with our NPQs around your busy timetable, with minimal time needed out of school.

No large project

Plus, on our NPQs there’s no large project at the end. Instead, you’ll sit an ‘open book’ assessment with support via two on-demand webinars and a dedicated, live assessment preparation clinic to help you get the most from your NPQ.

Benefits for you

Excel as a SENCO

Learn how to become a strategic leader of SEND. You’ll discover what good SEND provision looks like and work with other staff to support your school to meet the needs of all pupils, whilst working confidently within statutory guidance.

Establish a positive culture

You’ll lead on establishing and sustaining a positive, safe and supportive culture across your school for all pupils.

Develop a strategic SEND provision

Learn how to contribute to and implement a strong and robust SEND strategy and support the delivery of effective provision, working with other agencies and specialists for pupils with SEND, and their families.

Designed by SEND experts

Benefit from a programme which is designed and delivered by SEND specialists including current SENCOs and experts from across the sector.

Invest in your future

Ongoing professional development helps you to grow and thrive as a SENCO. You will follow an evidence-informed framework and gain a professional accreditation at the end of the programme.

Learn at your pace

This programme is designed to fit around your leadership role and much of the work can be completed in bite-size chunks around your existing work timetable. 

Connect with your peers

You will train alongside other SENCOs from similar school contexts. You can share your experiences and build a strong support network.

Benefits for your school

Develop your schools SEND provision

Your SENCOs will learn strategies and solutions to implement a strong SEND provision across your school. This includes creating an effective school-wide culture and supporting the development of a positive, safe and supportive school environment where all pupils can thrive.

Access the latest SEND learning

Teachers and leaders will bring more evidence-based teaching and learning into your classrooms, meaning high quality teaching and improved outcomes for all pupils, including those with SEND.

Create a ‘golden thread’

The NPQs are all aligned. So, no matter what career stage your teachers are at, by joining this programme, they will benefit from an evidence-based framework. They will also share a common language with other NPQ participants that they can pass on to colleagues.

Identify future leaders

Competent and confident leaders who excel in their roles will be more likely to apply for senior positions in your school when they arise.

Retain your teaching talent

By allowing teachers to develop and nurture their talents in specialist areas such as SEND, you are investing in their future. This will boost their confidence, making them feel supported and less likely to apply for jobs elsewhere.

Tap into a network

Your teachers will train alongside peers from other schools with similar contexts, supported by facilitators that fully understand your school's needs.



What you’ll learn
This programme follows the Department for Education’s National Professional Qualification (NPQ): SENCO framework.

On this programme, you will learn how to:

  • Contribute to establishing and sustaining a positive and supportive culture across the school for all pupils.
  • Support senior leaders to ensure staff and governors enact statutory guidance.
  • Support teachers and support staff to understand the importance of expert teaching for all pupils and to implement a graduated approach in the classroom, subject or domain effectively.
  • Support the delivery of effective provision for pupils with SEND and their families, and be able to review, monitor, evaluate and improve the impact of SEND provision.
  • Work with staff, specialists and other agencies to assist the school in meeting the needs of all pupils.
  • Implement an efficient SEND identification process across the school which ensures that barriers to learning are identified and addressed at the earliest opportunity.
  • Work with and equip fellow leaders with the skills to establish and sustain effective curriculum planning that enable teachers to plan, adapt and teach effectively for all pupils.
  • Support the development of a positive, safe and supportive environment for pupils across the whole school.
  • Ensure all pupils feel motivated in school with a supportive setting to enable them to reach their aspirations and potential.

Note: programme content is subject to change.

How you’ll learn

Our NPQ for SENCOs is designed so you can engage in live, facilitated sessions alongside modules you can complete at any time.

The first cohort will start in October 2024. Partner cohort locations and dates may vary.

Over 18 months, our NPQ for SENCOs includes: 

  • Two full day conferences (6hrs each).
  • Nine courses (each course lasts six weeks and loosely aligned to a school half-term).
  • Each course includes six modules.
  • Seven two-hour clinics (facilitated sessions).
  • One two-hour assessment clinic.
  • Five communities (1hr 15 mins group sessions). 

The content is delivered through blended learning. This includes a mix of real-time, interactive online sessions and self-guided modules you complete in your own time.

The programme includes facilitator-led sessions with your peer group that focus on decision-making. The programme starts with a one-day live conference.

Note: programme content is subject to change.

Our NPQ courses no longer include a large project at the end. Instead, you’ll sit an ‘open book’ style assessment in which you respond to a short case study.

The assessment window starts at the end of the 18-month programme and runs for three months.

During this time:

  • You’ll be given an eight-day window to complete the case study.
  • There are two assessment windows every year, and participants can sit the assessment twice, if they need to.
  • You need to pass the assessment and engage with 90% of the course to qualify for the NPQ accreditation.
  • We will offer two webinars and a live clinic in advance of the assessment window to support you.


NEW for autumn 2024! Department for Education NPQ scholarship funding is available for this NPQ to all publicly funded schools and 16 to 19 educational organisations in England.

DfE-funded scholarships are available for all those who meet the following criteria:

  • a current or aspiring SENCO, or a school leader such as a senior leader or headteacher.

We expect more information to be provided by the Department for Education in the summer term.

Extended eligibility.

Organisations now eligible to access scholarships include:

  • independent special schools.
  • virtual schools (Local Authority run organisations that support the education of children in care).
  • hospital schools not already included in other categories of eligible organisations.
  • young offender institutions.


The NPQ for SENCOs is mandatory for SENCOs. You will need to complete this qualification within the first three years in the role. If you have already obtained the NASENCO qualification, you do not need to complete the NPQ for SENCOs.

To apply for the NPQ for SENCOs, you must be or a current or aspiring SENCO, or a school leader such as a senior leader or headteacher.

The NPQ for SENCOs is also open to leaders in specialist or alternative provision.

NPQs are not suitable for active Early Career Teachers.