It's About Time

Participate in the SENCO Workload Survey 2018 - A blog by Hannah Moloney.


September 2018

Holidays are a time of refreshment and restoration for the soul and, like many, I like to bury myself in a good book. Top of my list of engaging authors is Malcolm Gladwell. This year it was his book ‘The Tipping Point’ where he theorises about how little things can make a big difference. As a SENCO, I’m always looking for little ways to make a big difference so I sunk into this book with glee. Come on Malcolm, enlighten me! (He will, in a minute…)

I think many would agree that the last few years have been challenging for people working in the field of SEND, not to mention for the children and young people themselves. My own experiences of being a SENCO over the last seven years have no doubt changed, as I’ve watched my teaching timetable increase, my Teaching Assistant team diminish, the range and intensity of needs become more pronounced and the availability of specialist help from the local authority dwindle. This perfect storm of factors has sometimes led me to feel an overwhelming sense of despair: How is this fair on students? And how is it fair on SENCOs to expect the ‘same’ depth and breadth of effectiveness in role with diminishing time available and smaller teams to deploy?

If people debated what qualities make a good SENCO, my own sense is that compassion would (and should) be high up on the list. In fact, recently, I did a very tiny Twitter poll to see what other people felt: compassion just scraped the top position. A quick google will also show you that compassion is a term commonly associated with teaching as a whole - which brings me back to my summer retreat with Malcolm.

In a chapter on the power of context, Gladwell shared some research which resonated very powerfully with me. In 1973, at Princeton University, forty theology students took part in an experiment. These students had to complete a personality questionnaire and then go to another building to give a talk either about the vocation of religious ministry or on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Some of the students were told to hurry to the other building because they were late; others were put under less time pressure. During their individual journeys, each participant encountered an actor slumped in an alleyway. The results were fairly stark: regardless of people’s personality type, only 10% of those who were under great time pressure stopped to help the suffering man, whereas those who had more flexibility of time were much more likely to come to his aid – 63% in fact.

If compassion is a fundamental quality of a good SENCO, and pressure of time significantly impedes the level of compassion a person is likely or able to give, then the fact that our education system currently does not protect SENCO time means it could be disabling thousands of SENCOs from being able to demonstrate one of the very qualities most required for the role.

It’s about time.

It’s been about time for a very long time.

And I believe it’s time we need to protect SENCOs so that we can empower them to be able to make the difference that is needed.

A little thing like protected time could make a big difference.

Will you join us to explore SENCO time in 2018? If you are a practicing SENCO in a UK school this month, I would encourage you to participate in the National SENCO Workload Survey to help us find out more about UK SENCO workload in 2018. The findings will be presented as part of the government review of the Code of Practice (2015). There is real opportunity for your voice to be heard.

I hope this is a tipping point…

Click here to participate in the National SENCO Workload Survey 2018

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Hannah Moloney is a SENCO in a 2-18 school with many years experience of the education and care sector. Her passion is working to build recognition for children with special educational needs and disabilities through strategic development of education, health and social care partnership working. You can find out more at here: and


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