1st Edition

The Secret Life of SENCOs Practical Insights on Inclusion and Specialist Provision

By Adam Boddison, Maxine O'Neill Copyright 2025
    200 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    200 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Only two roles are statutorily required in maintained schools, the Headteacher and the SENCO, and of these, only the SENCO is required to be a qualified teacher, demonstrating just how vital SENCOs are. But being the SENCO can be a lonely role as there is typically only one per school, so it is not always easy to know how SENCOs in other schools are undertaking the role and there is plenty of what SENCOs do that does not get seen.

    This book shares the wisdom and experience of individual SENCOs with the entire SENCO community. It provides practical insights on inclusion and specialist provision, and reveals the professional inner secrets of SENCOs, from the things SENCOs wish they had known at the outset of their career to the best and worst decisions they have made. The chapters explore alternatives to school exclusion, examine ways of using data to improve inclusion and share the inspirational stories of individual learners with SEND.

    The Secret Life of SENCOs will transform how you deliver the SENCO role by combining the benefit of hindsight with the luxury of insight, to provide the privilege of foresight. It is a valuable resource for both new and experienced SENCOs, as well those considering beginning in the role.

    Figures, Tables and Boxes

    Have a HEART!

    Foreword by Tina Emery OBE


    Chapter 1: Evolution of the SENCO Role

    Chapter 2: The Alternatives to School Exclusions

    Chapter 3: Data for Delivery

    Chapter 4: Lessons Learned, Lessons Applied

    Chapter 5: Individual Stories


    Glossary of Acronyms




    Adam Boddison is CEO for the Association of Project Management where he is responsible for the delivery of its strategic goals to successfully support its charitable objects and chartered status. Prior to this, Adam was CEO for the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen) for six years. Adam is Visiting Professor at the University of Leicester and Stranmillis University College.

    Maxine O’Neill is Headteacher at Hope SEMH School. Maxine is profoundly passionate about inclusion from both a personal and professional stance and works to improve long term social, personal and academic outcomes for children and young people.

    “A beautifully constructed SENCO guide sharing the honest reality of the role with the heart, diligence and passion of those who’ve lived it woven throughout. Highly insightful with practical approaches and ideas. An absolute must for all SENCOs, both new and experienced.”

    Kate Williams, SEND Consultant and Qualified SENCO

    “Being a SENCO is one of the most fulfilling, but challenging roles in education. The approach Adam and Maxine take in their book is to make you consider the factors that put children and young people at the forefront of our practice. This book is essential reading for any prospective or practicing SENCOs, making the role accessible and chunking everything you need to consider. It gives practical advice based on theory and is a thoroughly enjoyable read.”

    John Holt, Local Authority SEND Lead

    “An accessible, eye-opening read about the extensive, often invisible, work of SENCOs. A stark reminder that meeting the needs of young people with SEND cannot solely be the role of the SENCO, it is paramount that there is a shared sense of responsibility between all who come into contact with students with barriers to learning in educational settings. Written by experts in the field, the authors use their extensive knowledge and experience to offer thoughtful insights and creative ideas around inclusive and adaptive teaching practices, such as 'dynamic risk-assessments' and 'pre-mortem' thinking. As highlighted in the book, adapting to ever changing cohorts, and the ever-increasing need for inclusivity in the classroom, is a challenge for all educational providers, regardless of the setting.”

    Jeanette Davies, Director of Music and Head of the Creative Arts Faculty, Birkenhead High School Academy (GDST – Girls Day School Trust)