SEN Magazine features Bright Heart Education

Bright Heart Education’s tuition offering has been featured in the Jan / Feb 2019 edition of the SEN Magazine. 

Bright Heart Education

Bright Heart’s tuition offering was featured in the Jan / Feb edition of the SEN Magazine

SEN Magazine features Bright Heart Education

Bright Heart is pleased to have been featured in the “What’s New” section of the Jan/ Feb 2019 issue of the SEN Magazine

This feature highlighted the nurturing approach that Bright Heart brings to the tutoring market. It also explained how Bright Heart provides its tutors with exclusive training through nasen (National Association of Special Educational Needs). 

Extract from the "What's New" section of the Jan/Feb 2019 edition of the SEN Magazine (SEN98)

SEN Magazine is the UK’s leading special educational needs magazine. It is published every 2 months. Its readership includes SENCOs, parents, therapists, teachers and other special educational needs practitioners. It covers many topics with respect to special educational needs in the UK, including:

  • All major conditions (such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, cerebral palsy and Down's syndrome)
  • Mental health
  • Literacy and numeracy
  • Behaviour
  • Teaching children with special educational needs
  • General issues of education, care and government legislation
  • Special schools and mainstream schools

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Should I use a tutoring agency to find a great tutor?

Should I use a tutoring agency?

We consider the benefits of using a tutoring agency to find a great English, Maths, Science or SEN tutor.

Ryan Stevenson

Wondering if you should hire a tutor through an agency? 

We consider what tutoring agencies offer and let you decide.

Should I use a tutoring agency?

This is a follow up to our blog on tips for finding a great tutor. I wanted to address a common question from parents. Is it better to hire a private tutor directly? Or should I use a tutoring agency?

Private tutor or tutoring agency?

Hiring a private tutor yourself can be cheaper. So why should parents consider using a tutoring agency? Before answering this, it is worth providing some background. 

Tutoring is an unregulated industry.  Anyone can therefore become a tutor. This is regardless of qualifications, experience or competence. While a parent may find a great tutor, individual tutors cannot process background checks (DBS checks). While they can do so through a membership body (e.g. the Tutors’ Association), this is expensive. Many private tutors don’t therefore have DBS checks.

Private tutor directory websites

Many private tutors are listed on “private tutor directory websites. Some of these sites have thousands of tutors. Parents can therefore browse many profiles. Sites vary though with the checks (if any) they perform. A quick search of the terms of one popular site indicates: 

  • “You are not required to have a background check to become a Tutor …
  • [We] cannot verify any claim made by Tutors within their profile
  • Unfortunately, we cannot help tutors secure a background check.” 

https://www.brightheart.co.uk/what-is-a-dbs-check/There are some great tutors on these sites. Yet, there are no guarantees that profiles are accurate or any reviews are genuine. These sites also cannot process DBS checks and do not require them. This means you could select a wholly unsuitable tutor.

Types of tutoring agencies

Tutoring agencies, which introduce clients to tutors,  vary notably. They can be grouped by the level of service offered: 

  • Basic agencies
    Match tutors using information from client enquiries. Tutors are screened and interviewed (usually not in person). Degree certificates and references are checked. All tutors should have in place a clean Enhanced DBS check.
  • Premium agencies
    A key difference is that they interview tutors in person. They therefore have a better feel for the best tutor for your child. Further services may include money-back guarantees if you are not happy with the tutor. These agencies may also offer limited training to tutors. They typically ensure clients receive lesson feedback. The bigger agencies cater to many different clients / students. They are thus unable to provide a bespoke service.
  • Bespoke agencies
    Offer a better level of service than premium agencies. This is because they provide a tailored and more personal service. Bright Heart is a bespoke tutoring agency. It offers a free in-person consultation and the first lesson free. It also provides its tutors with focused training (through nasen). This training is based on its specific, tailored student focus. These students include those lacking in motivation / confidence and those with special educational needs (SEN). They also include those not quite 'clicking' in traditional classrooms.
Should I use a tutoring agency?
Premium and bespoke tutoring agencies get to know their trained tutors personally to help provide the best match for students.

Benefits of using a tutoring agency

Hiring a tutor through a tutoring agency generally provides the following benefits:

  • Ensures your child's tutor has been properly vetted. This is important even for online tuition.
  • No need for awkward conversations with private tutors about DBS checks.
  • Better chance of finding a well-matched tutor.
  • Should your tutor get sick or go on holiday, the agency can find an alternative at short notice.
  • Tutors are required to meet a minimum agreed standard with the agency.
  • Agencies have contracts to govern the relationship between you and the tutor and insurance cover.

Benefits of using a premium or bespoke tutoring agency

Premium or bespoke tutoring agencies generally provide further benefits, including:

  • Higher quality tutors from personally interviewing tutors.
  • Better tuition from getting to know tutors and clients / students. This is especially so for agencies that provide in-person consultations.
  • Bespoke agencies help meet student's unique learning needs by specifically tailoring training.
  • Prevents wasting money on a poor tutor when free lessons or guarantees are provided.
  • Improved monitoring of your child's progress from regular lesson reports. Agencies can also provide tutors with parent feedback. This helps to further improve the tuition.
  • Bespoke agencies provide a tailored service to help with specific needs. Bright Heart, for example, aims to improve tuition for students with SEN. It is therefore able to recruit experienced SEN tutors with a desire to work with SEN students. Tutors are also provided with specific SEN training.
  • Quality agencies have detailed policies and procedures in place. They also belong to member organisations. They can help resolve any disputes with tutors.

So, should I use a tutoring agency?

A drawback of using an agency is that it typically costs more. Many parents feel this is justified by the  peace of mind a good agency brings. A parent will need to make their own judgement, however. They should consider the specific needs of their child and their personal circumstances in making this important decision. They should also consider the specific benefits a particular agency provides.

At Bright Heart, we are always happy to discuss what is best for parents. We offer a free, no obligation in-person consultation. Please feel free to get in touch with us. We plan to write more on the topic of DBS checks in a future blog.


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Tips for finding the best tutor near you

Finding the best Maths and English tutor

We provide a few tips for finding the best Maths, English, Science or special educational needs tutors near you.

Ryan Stevenson

Searching for the best tutor for your child? 

In this post we help you make that decision

Tips for Finding the Best Tutor Near You

I am an experienced maths and science tutor with significant special educational needs (SEN) tutoring experience. I am therefore familiar with the questions parents ask and also what makes a good tutor. In this post I share some tips to help you find a great tutor. Three common questions from parents are:

  • Do you know a good Maths tutor / English tutor / Science tutor near me who can help my child?
  • My child is falling behind in class and I struggle to help them. Do you think they need a tutor?
  • My child is dyslexic / dyspraxic / has a SEN. Do you know a good SEN tutor near me who can help?

Let’s look at some themes which come up in these questions, and in doing so, help to answer them.

Finding the best Maths and English tutor
Choosing the right tutor can make a big difference to your child's enjoyment of the subject and their long-term success

Why do you need a tutor?

In answering the first question regarding a good tutor, it is important to understand your objectives. Why do you feel a tutor is needed? By parents exploring this with their child they can get an idea of what is meant by ‘good’ and which approach is best. Some reasons for seeking a tutor may include:

  • My child is falling behind in class and struggling with their homework.
  • My child feels alienated in class and is not engaging with the subject or lesson.
  • I want my child's grade to improve to qualify for A-Levels or university, or complete GCSEs.
  • My child is easily distracted or has learning challenges and is not receiving the necessary one-to-one attention.

What makes a good tutor?

In our experience, an important starting point is that the student needs to feel acknowledged and in an emotionally comfortable learning environment. A ‘good’ tutor is therefore one who can build rapport with the student.  This increases confidence, leading to self-sufficiency. It is best to communicate all known learning issues to the tutor to help with lesson planning. A good tutor (or tutoring agency) will ask relevant questions before tuition begins.

All parents wish for their child’s grades to improve.  However, certain aspects of learning need to be identified along with the particular objectives before steady progress is made. This preliminary questioning can help determine what the specific role of the tutor is. For example, it could be to re-engage the student with learning, increase confidence, fill in missing gaps or prepare for a specific exam e.g. 11+ or GCSEs.

When to hire a tutor

Parents frequently seek to hire tutors with the approach of important exams and the natural desire for their child to do well. For some students ‘playing catch-up’ suddenly becomes an extra source of stress. It is therefore better to act sooner rather than later if there are any concerns. Some tips related to tuition timing include:

  • Be proactive, rather than reactive. This reduces pressure.
  • When looking to hire a tutor, look at their availability right up to the exam.
  • Plan ahead as popular tutors can get booked out from mid-September for the school year.

If you are unable to help with your child’s homework, it may be worth trying outside help before subject complexity increases. Subject performance in Maths and Science is difficult to bring back on track in a few weeks.  This is especially true if there are fundamental concepts missing or learning challenges present. A tutor is therefore a good investment in these cases. If tuition is provided holistically, it can also address self-esteem and self-limiting beliefs.

Tutors who can address special educational needs (SEN)

Many tutors do not have experience with special educational needs. Many tutoring agencies therefore throw their tutors into situations they are not properly prepared for by matching the student purely on their knowledge of the subject. This then causes problems where specific approaches are needed to tailor the lesson to the unique needs of the student. If you do have a child with additional needs then be sure to ask the tutor (or tutoring agency) what experience the tutor has, and what approaches they have used previously.

Non-neurotypical students are often more sensitive to their environment, as well as body language and behaviour of people in close proximity. Therefore, it is best to find a SEN tutor with relevant experience to avoid a negative learning experience for the student, which can push subject interest in the wrong direction.

Some tips when looking for a SEN tutor:

  • Check to see if they have experience in the particular SEN.
  • Ask them their about their tutoring approach with non-neurotypical students or students with the specific SEN.
  • Patience is an important general trait for all SEN tutors. Try to assess the tutor's behaviour and manner in this regard.
  • A tense or highly strung tutor is usually a poor match for a student with additional needs.
  • If using a tutoring agency to find a SEN tutor, check their SEN credentials and whether this is a focus area.
  • Make sure the tutor has an enhanced DBS. Vulnerable students require extra safeguarding. This applies even when using a tutor for online tuition.
  • Once identified, make sure the tutor is willing to work with all parties involved e.g. the school, Local Authority, family. A team effort is usually more successful.

Next steps

As seen from the above, careful consideration is needed in finding the best tutor near you. We offer a free no obligation in-person consultation. Please get in touch to find out how we can help you to find a great tutor. We plan to write more on this topic in a future blog to explore whether it is worth using a tutoring agency.


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Future-proofing your child’s education

FT future proofing your child's education

Interesting thoughts provided by Vivienne Ming in a 3-min video from the Financial Times “Value of Knowledge” series on future-proofing your child’s education

Simon McQueen

The importance of maintaining passion, independent of short-term success or failure

Future-proofing your Child's Education

Interesting thoughts provided by Vivienne Ming in a 3-min video from the Financial Times “Value of Knowledge” series on future-proofing your child’s education.  This is especially relevant in a world in which, according to a recent report from the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies, around 85% of the jobs that today’s school children will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet!


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Fascinating insights from the TES SEN Show

TES SEN Show

The Bright Heart directors attended the TES SEN Show, which is the UK’s largest special needs show, on 5th and 6th October in London.

Simon McQueen

Ryan Stevenson

In this post, the directors share what they experienced and learnt at the annual TES Special Educational Needs Show.

Fascinating insights from the TES SEN Show

The Bright Heart directors attended the TES SEN Show, which is the UK’s largest special needs show, on 5th and 6th October in London. The show was packed with exhibitors and delegates and included many interesting presentations and seminars, including a heart-warming opening keynote panel discussion focused on social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties in education, with the highlight being a brave young student sharing his positive personal experiences at a special school.

TES SEN Show
The start of the TES SEN Show at the business design centre [photo: TES SEN Show]

A common theme highlighted at the show was the struggle for parents and teachers in the current education climate.

In addition to the keynote address, the directors attended a number of excellent seminars focused on specific topics, which included:

  • SLCN and SEMH - understanding the links – Wendy Lee
  • Identifying SEN: how can we be sure that a pupil has special educational needs? – Jane Friswell
  • Making the most of SEN funding and resources – Dr Rona Tutt OBE
  • Emerging effective SEN practice and challenges – Pat Bullen

SLCN and SEMH - understanding the links

Wendy Lee demonstrated the high correlation between speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) issues. Some interesting statistics presented included:

  • 60 % of young offenders have poor language skills
  • 50 % of pupils in socially disadvantaged areas have poor language skills
  • 85 % of students/people with SLCN fail to reach the expected standard in reading and writing
  • 81 % of students with SEMH have language difficulties

A major finding was that language is key to emotional literacy, as behaving appropriately is related to the ability to think through situations and anticipate the emotions generated. Those with SLCN generally have difficulties with interaction, self-awareness, problem solving and self-control. Ms Lee highlighted that there is massive under identification of children with SLCN which affects their emotional health and well-being. To improve language skills is to provide a protection factor against mental health challenges and anxiety, and it is therefore better to focus on preventive health with appropriate language intervention

Identifying SEN: how can we be sure that a pupil has special educational needs?

Jane Friswell spoke passionately about this topic as she drew upon her personal family experiences. Some key points from the SEND Code of Practice highlighted were:

  • Slow progress and low attainment do not necessarily mean that a child has SEN
  • Attainment in line with age should not necessarily be taken to mean that there is no SEN
  • Persistent disruptive or withdrawn behaviour does not necessarily mean that a child or young person has SEN
  • While identifying SEN at an early age is very helpful, some children’s difficulties only become apparent as they get older
  • The first response to slow progress should be high quality teaching targeted at the areas of weakness, with the impact carefully monitored
  • Where progress continues to be less than expected, the teacher, working with the SENCO, should assess whether the child has SEN

Once it has been determined that a pupil has SEN, SEN support should arise from a four-stage cycle set out in the SEND Code of Practice called the graduated approach – the stages of the cycle being: assess; plan; do; and review.

Making the most of SEN funding and resources

Dr Rona Tutt OBE addressed this important topic, providing a comprehensive overview while putting this all into the context of the stretched budgets available, due partly to the increased age range of the new SEND Code of Practice, which covers young adults up to the age of 25.  Some of Dr Tutt’s key points summarising the funding resources included:

  • Schools receive ~£6,000 per pupil for delivering a special educational provision (SEP), which can be drawn upon for both SEN support and those with EHC (Education, Health and Care) Plans
  • Top-up funding can be requested for needs requiring more than £6,000 from the Local Authority’s high needs block
  • The high needs block also pays for base funding of £10,000 for each specialist and alternative provision placement
  • Personal budgets have now been introduced for students with EHC Plans to provide additional support, and can be managed by the Local Authority, a third party, via a direct payment to the young person or their family, or a combination thereof.
  • There is also a pupil premium to raise attainment for disadvantaged pupils of all abilities, which could include those with SEN and includes all looked after children (ranging from £935 to £2,300 for looked after children).
  • DfE support for SEND reforms via 3 new contracts were announced in May 2018 totalling ~£27m – £20m with Council for Disabled Children (CDC) / Contact; £3.8m with Contact / KIDS / CDC; and £3.4m for Whole School SEND consortium – nasen / UCL)

Dr Tutt then stressed the importance of making the most of the limited funding available and highlighted a number of resources to help in this regard, including the EEF Toolkit, which provides an analysis of cost, evidence and benefit of various categories of support – those ranking highly for impact (in additional months’ average progress) include:

  • Feedback (8)
  • Metacognition & self-regulation (7)
  • Reading comprehension strategies (6)
  • One to one tuition, collaborative learning, oral language interventions (5)

Emerging effective SEN practice and challenges

Pat Bullen provided a great overview of what is working and where issues still remain. Clearly most Local Authorities have room for improvement, with 27 out of 61 SEND Local area reviews having a Written Statement of Action (WSOA) as at September 2018. These reviews are carried out by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Although high needs spending has increased from £5bn in 2015 to £6bn in 2018, there has been a strain on Local Authorities with cuts to preventative services such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Schools that do strive to be more inclusive are also not acknowledged accordingly, with the Ofsted definition of ‘Outstanding’ not being wide enough to consider these aspects and being too narrowly focused on the level of academic achievement.

When SEN provision was working effectively, some general traits were present:

  • Mapping of provision and tracking of progress
  • Ensuring multi-agency links
  • Whole School SEND reviews
  • Having a SEN Governor role
  • Training of staff

Effective SEN provision was usually found when schools, Local Authorities, alternative provision and parents were all working together. 


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The rise of home education

Tutoring young student

Home education or homeschooling, has traditionally been more popular in the US than the UK, with about 2 million students being homeschooled.

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

Homeschooling is growing in the U.K. Here we look at some reasons why parents consider this option.

The rise of home education

Home education or homeschooling, has traditionally been more popular in the US than the UK, with about 2 million students being homeschooled. However, it is on the rise in the UK with reports of at least 50,000 to 80,000students being educated by parents and/or private tutors.

Tutoring young student
Homeschooling is becoming an increasingly popular option for parents in the U.K.

The number of students in home education in England has doubled in the last 6 years2. There are many reasons why parents decide to embark upon this route:

  • Dissatisfaction with academic instruction or philosophy
  • Increased competition to obtain a place within a school
  • Prolonged bullying of the student
  • Behaviour issues within school leading to expulsion
  • Special educational needs
  • More flexibility desired in educational practices
  • Desired religious or moral instruction
  • Chronic illness
  • To increase knowledge and exposure via travel
  • To connect with nature more via outdoor education

Home education leads to better than average qualifications and does not prevent access to tertiary education. One issue that parents have to pay attention to is socialisation, however, this has become much easier to overcome through online networking and parents creating home education groups and meetups.

Under English and Welsh law parents do not require any qualification to start home education and there is no requirement to conform to the National Curriculum or undertake examinations2.

At Bright Heart Education we respect the freedom of choice to educate your child as you think best, and can help support you on this path and work to meet your unique requirements.

  1. Law and Parents, 22 January 2018: Regulations On The Home Schooling of Your Child‘.
  2. The Telegraph, 7 July 2017: ‘Number of children home taught doubles in six years amid increased competition for school places‘.

         Did you find this helpful? Please share your thoughts on our Facebook post or get in touch if you prefer!


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