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Tutoring for SEND & Home-Schooling

30/08/2023 / Online Tutoring

An Outline of Tutoring

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities


An Outline of Tutoring

If qualified teachers are providing all the tutoring at Principal Tutors, you might be wondering what the difference is between teaching and tutoring, especially as the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Whilst a teacher usually works in a classroom teaching up to 30 children at once, a tutor usually works one to one, focusing on one learner at a time. However, qualified teachers make the best tutors, and your child’s tutoring session will draw together the strengths that a teacher brings as a classroom practitioner and those a tutor brings in focusing the learning on your child’s specific needs.

The tutoring that will occur in your child’s lesson is much more than simply reviewing learning that has happened in school (although that will form a part of it). Sessions may include:

  • Baseline assessments to establish areas that need revision
  • Completing practice questions to consolidate new learning
  • Reading for comprehension and vocabulary
  • Applying existing skills to more challenging questions
  • Problem-solving
  • Role play of educational scenarios
  • Conversation practice
  • Reviewing modelled examples
  • Completing exam type questions
  • Targeted revision
  • Targeted feedback
  • Extension work in topics beyond the curriculum
  • Timed practice of exam papers

It will be up to you as the parent and the tutor to agree what the focus of the lessons will be. Most secondary school children will also have valuable insights into topics they find challenging and would like support with. There is usually a strong correlation between the topics pupils find most challenging at GCSE and A-level and the topics teachers expect them to find difficult, so this is a good place to start. 

Parents are usually happy to let the tutor take responsibility for the lessons after they have indicated any areas of difficulty. Recent school reports or notes from conversations with your child’s schoolteacher can form a useful starting point. However, the tutor will also be able to conduct their own assessments within the first few lessons and will establish for themselves where the focus ought to be. Time constraints will play a role too. A pupil who is four weeks away from a GCSE will require very different lessons to a pupil starting Year 10 with two years of tuition ahead of them. 

Whilst a few lessons before an exam can undoubtedly make a difference, a tutor who works with your child over a longer period will undeniably have a more significant impact. You should have complete confidence that you can leave your child’s education in the hands of a professional and qualified tutor and look forward to the positive results that will come with time.

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Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Throughout their time a school, a child with an additional need or disability will need support and access arrangements to ensure that they can achieve their full potential.

All qualified teachers must have knowledge of a range of special educational needs and disabilities and will understand how to adapt their teaching to ensure that pupils’ needs are met. Some teachers are particularly experienced with special educational needs and, as tutors, can provide invaluable support alongside any support that pupils receive in the classroom.

Below are examples of some additional needs that might benefit from tuition. However, this list is by no means exhaustive. An experienced tutor will take the time to talk to you before the lessons begin and understand where your child requires support and the strategies that work best to ensure progress and engagement.

It may be the case that you suspect that your child has an additional need, but the process of getting a diagnosis or statement has not been straightforward. You may have decided that this is not the route you wish to go down at present, but you still feel your child would benefit from some targeted help. Again, a tutor will be understanding and supportive. They will discuss and plan the best approach, the main aim of which will be to support the child in the way that is most beneficial for them.


Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects the brain’s ability to process information. It may present mildly, moderately or severely. It is usually identified whilst the child is at primary school, but in some cases may not be identified until secondary school or adulthood. 

Common challenges found with dyslexia can include:

  • Difficulty with reading, writing and spelling.
  • Difficulty remembering and understanding written and verbal instructions.
  • Difficulty with organisation and coordination.

Every child with dyslexia is different, and each child will benefit from certain learning strategies more than others. However, an experienced tutor will know and be able to apply a range of appropriate strategies to support your child with their learning, gradually identifying the ones that will work best.

School can be a frustrating place for a child with dyslexia. Many children with dyslexia are bright and have excellent academic potential; however, they struggle to express their learning in a way that can be assessed on paper. Building a good relationship between the tutor and pupil is crucial. It may take time, especially if the pupil’s confidence is low. A tutor can work consistently and patiently to help the pupil find ways of working that will guide them towards success.


Dyscalculia is a poorly understood learning difficulty related to the processing of numbers and symbols. A pupil may find numeracy and maths difficult but not present with dyscalculia, which is related to dyslexia but is a distinct need.

Common challenges with dyscalculia include:

  • Difficulty with arithmetic but a better understanding of other maths subjects such as geometry.
  • Difficulty spotting patterns.
  • Poor understanding of value, for example, of what things ought to cost in pounds.
  • Needing to count on fingers, not being able to subitise (immediately see how many objects are in a small group).
  • High level of anxiety related to maths.

A good tutor will be able to help your child to progress through difficulties with maths. However, if your child has a diagnosis of dyscalculia, they will require more specialised support from an experienced and specialist maths teacher.

Talking with your tutor about your aspirations for tuition relating to dyscalculia difficulties will help the tutor understand the degree of difficulty your child is facing. As the tutor then undertakes their own assessments with the child, they can start a program of support. It can take many months of consistent and hard work, but if you find the right tutor, your child will feel more confident with their maths and take important steps towards progress.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), AD(H)D and neurodiversity

If you have a child who has been diagnosed with a form of neurodiversity, it is particularly important that you can find an experienced tutor with whom your child can form a positive and productive relationship.

Pupils with neurodiversity, more so than any other form of additional need, require a highly personalised approach to tutoring. A good tutor will understand this and work creatively with you to ensure your child has the best possible experience, particularly at the start of the process. What your child needs most will be unique. However, some strategies consistently work well, such as:

  • Clear, short instructions.
  • Straightforward language.
  • Checking understanding in stages and regularly.
  • Specific, short tasks.
  • Modelled behaviour and examples.
  • Direct praise and feedback.
  • Clear rewards, such as time spent on a favourite topic or game.

Neurodiverse pupils who are preparing for exams such as GCSEs and A-Levels may need to spend much more time than would be allocated in school practising specific exam questions or tasks. If they are allocated extra time for exams, a tutor can help them to plan how to use this.

Children with neurodiversity are frequently bright. They may exert a lot of effort and energy ‘fitting in’ at school, masking anxiety and concealing the difficulties they face in the classroom. Alternatively, difficulties can be expressed through problem behaviour. The energy devoted to this understandably takes away from the energy they can devote to learning, resulting in feelings of frustration and possibly anger. Whilst all teachers must make provisions in their classrooms for students with neurodiversity, some teachers are better at doing this than others, especially concerning the emotional and practical aspects of the need.

An experienced and sympathetic tutor will be able to maintain a dialogue with the pupil that encourages them to reflect on their experience and provide insight into what they find helpful. If this is done in collaboration with the parent and includes what the tutor already knows what will be effective, the effect can be transformative.

Other special education needs and disabilities

If your child has a need or disability not mentioned, you can be confident that an experienced tutor will be keen to work with you to provide the best possible learning outcome.

There are more common and less common special educational needs. Experienced teachers will probably have worked with many children with a range of needs not specifically mentioned here. Additionally, experienced teachers are used to having new pupils each year who may present with a difficulty they have not worked with yet. It is the teacher’s duty to ensure that the child’s needs are met in the classroom, and the same would apply to a private tutoring arrangement with a professional and qualified teacher.

A good tutor will want to learn and understand any additional need that is new to them but will also understand that your child is unique, and that the most critical information is what the parent and child have to say. As the parent, you are the expert on your child. The more information you can share with the tutor, the better they can understand what will best benefit your child in the sessions.

Another reason that tuition may be required is for schooling that has been missed due to a medical need. A long illness or chronic health condition may severely impact a child’s schooling. A tutor can provide a personalised program to prioritise essential skills and topics for a child returning to school or learning part-time. They will understand that with a chronic condition, there will be good and bad days and provide the child with important consistency as they transition back into full-time education.

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Whilst the vast majority of children in the UK receive their education from a state or private school, a small number are home-schooled. There are many reasons why a parent might choose to home-school a child, but as the child’s legal guardian, they have a responsibility to ensure that the child is receiving a ‘full-time education’.

Staff from the local authority have the right to inspect arrangements for home education (home-schooling). They may issue a ‘school attendance order’ (requiring your child to attend school) if they are not satisfied with the arrangement.

Parents who home-school usually engage a tutor for part of the learning, particularly in subjects they are less confident about. A tutor can ensure the child is progressing as expected for their age group and support them with preparation for GCSE examinations.

Regular contact with an educational professional will be a good discipline for your child, preparing them for later educational contact, such as college or university. It will also provide your local authority with additional evidence (from reports, feedback and work set) that you are meeting the statutory requirements for home education.

Our Tutors

At Principal Tutors, all of our tutors are qualified teachers with expertise in the UK National Curriculum. You’ll get feedback after every single session to help you feel in control of your child’s learning and progress, and you can even download resources and request a recording of your tutoring session to help you remember key points later.

To learn how tutoring can help your child give us a call on 0800 772 0974 or you can request a tutor using our online form.


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