Special Educational Needs

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: SEND Tutors Enquire 

SEND is a term, which describes the needs of those who have a learning difficulty or disability, which makes learning harder for them than for others in their age group.

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can affect children, young people and adults’ ability to learn. This might:

  • affect their reading and writing, for example because they have dyslexia.
  • affect their ability with maths, for example because they have dyscalculia.
  • affect their behaviour or ability to socialise, for example they struggle to make friends.
  • affect their ability to understand things, because they take more time to process information than others in their age group.
  • affect their concentration levels, for example because they have ADHD.
  • affect their physical ability to do things that others in their age group can easily do.

SEND covers a broad spectrum of special needs, learning difficulties and disability. It is thought that around one in five children has a SEND challenge at some point during their time at school, whereas other students will have SEND challenges throughout their whole time at school.

This could be a specific problem such as a difficulty in one area of learning e.g. because they have some elements of one of the following conditions: Asperger’s syndrome, autism, dyscalculia, dyslexia (or one of the many other types of learning difficulties). In some cases, a student might have a combination of learning difficulties or conditions, which will create more wide-ranging challenges.

Some examples of special educational needs…


Always talk to the school first: we recommend, if you have any concerns that your son or daughter might be struggling with their learning, that you always discuss the matter first with the nursery, school or college.  Usually speaking to the form teacher and/or head of year, or if you are especially worried the headteacher or principal.

But if you think your son or daughter may have a special educational need, learning difficulty or disability, then you should contact the SENDCO (Special Educational Needs and Disability Coordinator) at the nursery, school or college attended.

The SENDCO is the nominated member of staff who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEND policy. All UK mainstream schools must appoint a teacher to be their SENDCO.

The SENDCO will co-ordinate additional support for pupils with special educational need, learning difficulty and/or disability. They are the person who will liaise with the parents, the other teachers and other professionals who are involved with the student e.g. the local authority, the GP or speech therapist, or an educational psychologist (if one is involved).

So, every nursery, school and college in the UK will have a ‘named’ SENDCO. If you contact the institution they should be able to give you the name of the member of staff who is their SENDCO; and they should be able to provide you with the contact details (although you may also find these listed on their website).

The SENDCO should be able to hear your concerns and can look for any signs and evidence that there might be an apparent or underlying special educational need, learning difficulty or disability affecting the student’s ability to learn.

It is worth noting, that where there is evidence that a student has a special educational need, learning difficulty or disability, then educational establishments have a legal duty (under the Equalities Act 2010) to assess the student’s needs.

If such a need/s is established, then the educational establishment may be required to make suitable provision to accommodate the identified difficulty (or difficulties) and to put strategies in place to support the student in their learning.

If in doubt you should raise the matter with the head of the institution.

Who else can you talk to, to get help:

GP or health visitor: if you have any serious concerns about your son or daughter’s health and/or their physical, emotional and/or social development, you might find it helpful to talk to your doctor or health visitor. If necessary, they can refer to a community paediatrician, who will assess your son or daughter to identify any developmental problems.

Educational psychologists: If you feel you are not making any progress with either the educational establishment or the local authority, then you do have the option of privately seeking the advice and support of an educational psychologist.

Educational psychologists are highly trained professionals, who can carry out a whole range of tests and assessments, which should help to determine if your son or daughter has a special educational need and learning difficulty/disability.

Following such assessments, they will write a formal report, which can be used to argue for extra support from the nursery, school or college. They can also talk to educational establishments, to advise them as to what would be the best sort of support to put in place to help the student overcome their learning difficulties/disability.

An educational pychologist can be used to provide supporting evidence which can be used to argue the case for the local authority to provide an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

However, you will need to keep in mind that (other then those who work for local education authorities) educational psychologists are in private practice and as such will charge fees for the services they provide (which can be very costly for those who have a limited family income).

The local authority: Your local Information, Advice and Support (IAS) Service, who are part of your local authority, can give you advice about SEND.

In theory, you can request your local authority to carry out an ‘assessment of needs’. This is a detailed investigation into the student’s learning needs. The local authority will then decide whether an Education, Health and Care Plan is appropriate.

An Education, Health and Care Plan will ensure the student will get the right help but is only necessary if the school is unable to meet a student’s needs on its own.

A young person can request an ‘assessment of needs’ themselves if they are aged 16 to 25, although this might be a challenge if you are under 18.

If the evidence is available, the educational establishment SENDCO should also be able to make a case for the provision of an Education, Health and Care Plan. However, because issuing an Education, Health and Care Plan can result in the local authority having to fund a lot of extra costs, they will only award these, in cases which can satisfy a high threshold of need.

How can Norfolk Tutors help student with SEND

As the above information shows, SEND can be rather a specialist area of expertise: however, in general terms all our tutors would be expected to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to their approach to tutoring, to do their best to accommodate students’ who have a special educational need/s, have a learning difficulty, and/or have a disability.

In addition, some of our tutors have experience (and often qualifications) in working specifically with students with special needs, learning difficulties and disability, details of which will normally be listed on the tutor’s profile.

For example, some of our tutors have had experience of working with students with Asperger’s syndrome, autism, dyscalculia, dyslexia and/or other types of learning difficulties.

Generally, such tutors are not formal ‘experts’ in these fields (which are very specialised) but rather will have had varying amounts of experience working with students who have these conditions. Such tutors may also have undertaken some special needs awareness training (but usually only at an entry level).

We have several specialist tutors on our register of approved tutors, but they are often fully booked, so it can be hard to secure their services.

For students who have specific special needs, learning difficulties and/or a disability, or who are just struggling with some aspect of learning (perhaps because of an un-diagnosed condition), to enable your tutor to be able to best support the student, we strongly recommend that we or the tutor are made aware of any such issues, usually at the point when you make your initial enquiry i.e. before the tuition starts.

If you wish to enquire about tutors with SEND experience, free free to get in touch via our Find a Tutor enquiry form or call 0800 862 0603.