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Workload in SEN schools
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Hepplewhitechair · 26/02/2022 18:19

Wondering if anyone can help me compare workload (specifically paperwork) in SEN schools compared to mainstream. I’m interested in moving to SEN in the decade or so before retirement, but remember hearing previously that paperwork was more extreme. I’m experienced and happy with current work life balance (work around 50 hours a week, KS1) but would love to try something new. I would expect my workload to be higher initially as there would be lots of reading and training, but worried that a move would dramatically increase workload for years into the future.

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Kite22 · 26/02/2022 23:43

When I moved, I found the paperwork to be less. After all, you have 12 or 8 or fewer in your class, not 30 - it makes a LOT of difference when doing any sort of report. There is more written communication with some parents (as you don't see them in the playground) and of course Annual Reviews but overall, less paperwork.

It was more physically demanding though - not sure I'd want to move in my 50s.
However, special schools vary in the same way that mainstream schools vary - what 1 SLT want will be different from the next SLT. Also, there are so many different types of special school.

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Partyatnumber10 · 27/02/2022 14:31

I think in some ways the paperwork will be less, but different.
So a lot less marking and obviously a smaller class means less in the way of reports and data.
Another way workload can be reduced is that you tend to have more than one TA and are sometimes (depending on the class) able to ask them to do things like wall displays and photocopying inside of school hours.
On the other hand though you will probably have to undertake training and reading to get you up to speed.
Planning can offer be highly individual so you may end up doing 8 lots of planning.
There will be things like annual reviews, transition plans and team around the child meetings which all require extra work. Also, things like annotated pictures in SeeSaw or tapestry making observations and making detailed notes on individual programs can be time consuming.
Also, if you're considering it in the last decade before retiring. It can be a very physical job and very full on during the working day. It can involve physical restraint, running after children, working down on the floor for extended periods of time, getting in the pool with them, going out for walks and trips etc all with children who are quite needy.
Plus often children need to be watched constantly and you lose your breaks a lot if a child is in crisis or refuses to leave the classroom for some reason.
Don't underestimate how tiring it could be.
I absolutely love SEND teaching and never want to go back to mainstream. In some ways it is easier, I find it less pressurised and more about the individual children's needs. Just don't go into it thinking that you're going to make your life easier in the run up to retirement.

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GinJeanie · 27/02/2022 23:43

I think it depends on the age-group within a SEN school, whether students are following accredited courses, doing exams etc. I'd say my workload is heavier than it was in mainstream but I was secondary not primary. I regularly work 60+ hours per week and am in my 50s so not new to it. Lots of plates spinning all the time. I sometimes have a student following a completely different "bespoke" timetable in a separate room with another member of staff on top of what my class are doing. Everything is highly individualised (as it should be). There's extra paperwork like writing reports for EHCP reviews etc and the assessment is onerous. However, it's fab and I really enjoy it. Good luck!

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Hepplewhitechair · 02/03/2022 19:55

Thank you all for sharing your experiences, really helpful as I feel like if I’m going to make the move it needs to be in the next year. It sounds like it would be very rewarding and definitely doable if I make the change soon.

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13luckyblackcats · 03/03/2022 13:42

Good luck! I trained in SEN due to posts I read here and have never looked back! It's so variable and I love it. For my students this year, I don't spend very much time developing my own subject knowledge, due to the levels they are working at. I do spend lots of time using PECS and symbols and practical work to help them access the ideas, and working practice in at regular intervals. Next year I will have most likely a completely different set of needs and challenges. EHCP and IEP paperwork does take a fair amount of time, but easier the more you do.

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