When does a school need special education teachers?
I would say schools always need all teachers to be trained in it - to a high degree - because it's highly likely they will be in a position where they could spot and assist in the diagnosis of a learning or mental health difficulty even if they're not aware of any in their class when they begin teaching.
However, when it comes to a specifically SEN teacher, I'm no expert but I'd probably say:
- If you have children who appear to be smart but struggling in lessons (acting out, not paying attention, having difficulties with spelling or maths)
- If your school can afford to hire a teacher and has over a certain number of pupils (I'd say even as low as class sizes of over 20, perhaps?)
- If the school is aware that they have children with diagnoses that may bring or have caused impediments to their education in the past
There are exceptions to every rule (for instance, with Asperger's Syndrome I had a patchy history of education but an SEN teacher would have been superfluous for up to years at a time for me), but I would recommend them in the above. That said, with very good, compassionate support from existing teachers - which they should not be unreasonably expected to give in addition to their normal duties - some students may be supported better than by an SEN teacher. It comes down to a lot of factors and if there's only a kid or two in a school displaying the need for one there may be alternative options, but it all depends be on the individuals in question.
As someone who works with these very special teachers and helps them find jobs and placements I feel that every school can benefit from their training, experience and perhaps above all empathy.
Usually, the range of needs is quite wide. Children and young people in SEN classes will have a range of difficulties varying from mild to profound and complex needs including Autism, sensory and communicational needs, mental health difficulties and dyslexia to name a few. Having a good SEN teacher can quite literally change and shape the direction of young people's lives for better while they are at school and aid them with necessary life skills. Something every child deserves