In-person nasen training workshop

In person training with nasen

In this article, we provide some insight about our recently held nasen in-person training event.                  

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

We discuss our recently held in-person training event, which was presented by nasen.

Our training relationship with nasen

A lack of tutor training was a key shortcoming observed by Ryan in working with various tutoring agencies before launching Bright Heart. This was especially concerning when working with students with learning challenges. In launching Bright Heart, we were determined to put this right.

We approached nasen (National Association of Special Educational Needs) to help provide training to our tutors, due to its stellar reputation over >25 years supporting SEN (special educational needs) practitioners with training and resources. 

Nasen produced a training course exclusively for Bright Heart, comprising 4 webcasts (see here for topics) and a detailed written test. The aim of the course was to ensure that our tutors are adequately prepared to meet the individual learning needs of our students.

We recently complimented the online training course with an in-person training workshop facilitated by Michael Surr, nasen’s educational development officer.

In-person training workshop

nasen training
nasen's Michael Surr illustrating his point

We held our tutor in-person training workshop at a Wimbledon hotel on Saturday 28 September. Following an early start, tutors were welcomed on arrival with tea and coffee, before an opening address by Simon.

Michael then proceeded to engage the tutors with a very entertaining and interactive session during the rest of the morning, with the aims being to:

  • Provide an update on SEND news and developments;
  • Develop an understanding of mental health and person-centred working; and
  • Provide tutors with practical strategies to further enhance their one-to-one tuition.

The session included tutors taking part in a number of interesting group exercises and sharing their own tutoring experiences with the group. 

We also watched a very interesting video on the adolescent brain by Dr Andrew Curran, a neurobiologist. This helped to illustrate the science behind the Bright Heart Approach and what makes it so effective for our students.  He explained how the teenage years are characterised by excess dopamine levels (relative to serotonin) and how providing emotional support can help the brain to function optimally (by optimising the levels of dopamine produced). This is because the limbic emotional brain is responsible for 93% of dopamine secretion. Or to put it simply, “if you have someone’s heart, their minds will come with”.

Ryan then concluded the session by emphasising Bright Heart’s vision and the importance of implementing the Bright Heart Approach. He also acknowledged the tutors for their invaluable contributions in successfully putting this into practice.

Tutors then enjoyed a light lunch where they were able to spend time getting to know each other and sharing ideas on how best to implement some of the strategies covered during the morning.

Some tutors then joined Simon and Ryan for a well-earned afternoon beverage at a nearby pub.

The feedback from tutors was all very positive, with everyone thoroughly enjoying the hands-on activities and getting to meet and learn from their peers.

Find a well-trained tutor to help your child

Bright Heart’s tutors are all required to complete online training and encouraged to compliment this by actively participating in periodic in-person training workshops and other events.

Please get in touch to talk to us about how one of our well-trained, caring tutors could be perfect for your child!


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5 Benefits to Homeschooling your Child

homeschooling a girl

In this post we look at some of the many benefits of homeschooling, especially when considering a private tutor.

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

In this post we look at some of the many benefits of homeschooling, particularly when complemented by a carefully trained and matched tutor

5 Benefits to Homeschooling your Child

homeschooling a girl

The new school year is upon us and you may be considering homeschooling for your child. Perhaps you have a child with special educational needs (SEN) who is not getting the support at school they need? While traditional schooling has definite merit and homeschooling does present certain challenges, in this blog, we consider some of the many benefits of homeschooling (especially when complemented by a carefully selected home tutor). 

 

1. Less Distraction

In a classroom environment, it may sometimes be difficult to ignore the distractions that occur from the visual, noise and movement stimulation of sharing a room with two dozen or more other students. This might impact on your child’s ability to concentrate and process or absorb information. Compared with the focus that a homeschooling setting brings, along with the added benefit of a private tutor and you can understand why it may be more conducive to learning effectively. This is particularly important for learners with certain special educational needs. 

2. Tailored Learning Pace

Every child develops and learns at his or her own unique pace. Some require more time to solidify certain skills or concepts than others. Often a classroom environment is catering to the needs of  the whole rather than of the individual; the group is expected to cover a certain amount of work within a given curriculum during a specific time frame and this takes precedence over individual needs. This is despite the best intentions from the most caring of educators. Students with special educational needs will especially benefit more from an environment in which they can learn at their own pace. 

3. Freedom to Ask More Questions

Students sometimes hold back or refrain from asking questions in a group setting for fear of losing face or embarrassing themselves in front of their peers. Homeschoolers are given the freedom to ask (and keep asking!) until they understand. A private tutor or parent is much less likely to say, “That is off topic,” or “That is not what we are learning about today,” compared to a busy teacher.

4. One-to-one Attention

With an individual tutor or parent, sitting in a quiet room, with not much else to focus on besides the work they are doing, it can be easier for a student to process what they are learning. Tutors get to know your child’s individual learning style and can adapt teaching methods accordingly. They act as your child’s own private teacher. In this setting, your child receives an individualized learning experience that he or she won’t always get in a classroom. Tutors can customize the lessons and activities specifically for your child.

5. Improved Work and Study Habits

Besides helping to foster an improved attitude towards learning and helping your child prepare better for tests and examinations, students in the homeschool environment can also learn work and study habits that will stand them in good stead for life. These skills can help prepare your child to successfully achieve his or her goals both in and outside of their educational environment. Your child can gain the ability to do school work on his or her own, without your help and can realize his or her own personal growth as they take more responsibility for their studies. This in turn provides a monumental sense of achievement and increased self-esteem. 

How Can Tutoring Help?

Perhaps you are already homeschooling your child and are simply weighing up the benefits of tutoring to get more out of homeschooling? 

Enlisting the help of a carefully matched and trained tutor, who understands your child’s unique needs and learning style, can enhance some of the homeschooling advantages discussed above.

If you’d like to explore the benefits of tutoring for your homeschooled Child, take advantage of an obligation-free consultation with one of our directors, who can assist in guiding you towards the ideal match for your child in terms of personality as well as educational needs. Experience the Bright Heart Approach today!


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A new ethos for tutoring students with SEND

nasen Connect September 2019

Dr Stevenson considers how tutoring can evolve and the opportunity this presents -published in nasen Connect magazine Sep 19.               

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

Director Dr Ryan Stevenson considers how tutoring can evolve and the opportunity that it presents in this contribution to nasen Connect magazine (Sept. 2019)

Bright Heart director, Dr Ryan Stevenson relates his story of working with SEND students and the valuable opportunity that tutoring presents. He argues a new approach is needed.  This article was published in the nasen Connect September 2019 edition.

nasen Connect September 2019
nasen Connect is distributed to schools, SENCos and parents across England

A new ethos for tutoring students with SEND

Being a billion-pound industry, there are a multitude of tutoring agencies and private tutors in the UK. In addition, there are multiple combinations of subjects and exam boards to specialise in and tutors are varied in their nationalities, ages and eccentricities. This was the sub-culture I awakened to in 2012 when becoming a maths and science tutor in London.

After approaching several agencies, I soon began working and familiarising myself with the lingo of the curriculums and student levels. It was clear to me from the beginning that tutors can play an important role for families and schools in delivering education.

In those early days, I was matched with students needing tutoring in science or maths, but I would often find that students also presented with additional learning challenges. This experience was initially quite difficult for me as I came to grips with different ways of learning, the learning environment, the different SEN labels and student behaviour which often left me feeling the need to walk on eggshells.

The objectives for tutoring were most often expressed as simply improving grades. Preparation and training were not high on the agenda and little regard was given to the tuition process, other than ensuring the tutor had the required subject knowledge.

This simplification was an eye-opener. It is premature to launch into rigorous academic work when the student is not yet at ease in the learning environment; studies highlight the lack of retention when the mind is in a stressed state. In fact, a negative relationship with learning can be exacerbated if a student is feeling pushed or cornered into working by a tutor who does not first establish some rapport with them or who does not consider their specific needs.

Observing and learning from student interaction

With increasing referrals of students with SEND, I carefully reflected on what made for effective tuition. I found building rapport and trust with the student and being aware of the learning ‘space’ to be very important. This space is beneficial when tutors are aware of the student’s specific needs and know how to work with them, but also by tutors being calm, receptive and expressing warmth. Psychologist Carl Rogers describes this as ‘positive unconditional regard’, which he noticed made a significant impact on patients’ improvement rates.

Once rapport and trust has been developed, the student is often willing to work more diligently. In positively affirming the unique presence of the student, there is also an increase in their self-esteem and self-worth. All of this leads to greater confidence and a ‘flowering’ of the whole individual. This development is particularly apt for students with SEND who may have lower self-esteem. These positive changes help to promote academic progress and a more stable individual.

Moving away from traditional ideas about tutoring and solely being a subject expert, it is important to give attention to the ‘softer’ factors which make the above process possible. It is suggested therefore, to parents and schools, to look for the following qualities in a tutor:

  • the demonstration of patience and understanding
  • the ability to maintain a calm and receptive learning environment
  • being able to build rapport and create engagement
  • flexibility in their approach to the student’s needs and character
  • particular experience and training for the specific educational need of the student.

This approach aligns well with the SEND Code of Practice (2015) where person- centred working is central. Sometimes, however, what is most crucial is the mindset of the tutor. It is important that they have the intention of creating a safe space for the student from the beginning and are mindful of the role played by his or her own emotions.

Meeting the challenge and implementation of ethos

Seven years later and now the co- founder of a tutoring agency of my own, we have looked to implement a more personal tutoring approach to ensure effective tuition for students with SEND. In addition to providing tutors with detailed guidance on our tutoring ethos, we’ve met this challenge by selecting high quality, experienced tutors who exhibit empathy and understanding, while also preparing them with respect to the SEND landscape. Specially commissioned training videos have been provided for tutors which cover the current context of SEND, the four broad areas of need, person-centred working and specific needs and strategies. Face to face training has also been planned. While not a substitute for direct experience, this knowledge base allows tutors to gain an immediate context and a selection of useful tools. We also ensure we gather as much information as possible regarding each student’s learning preferences. This is something schools and parents can be aware of to enhance the tuition experience.

Tutoring, as outlined here, is not merely the transfer of knowledge to meet a specific educational target. It is a golden opportunity to engage with the child in a way that can further their whole development and one to which I hope I have brought some attention. With this intention, much can be accomplished.

Contact us

If you feel the above article rings true for you then please get in touch and we can see how we can help.


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Dyslexia – another word for ‘a different way to learn’

girl writing on paper

We look at the definition of dyslexia, the myths surrounding it and how to work with dyslexic students.         

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

In this post we look at what is dyslexia, the myths surrounding it and how best to adapt tutoring to the student’s way of thinking

Dyslexia – another word for ‘a different way to learn’

If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia or if you suspect that he or she may be dyslexic this is not cause for despair.  

While it does present a unique set of challenges when it comes to learning, it is important to remember that some of the world’s most creative and highly successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic and that it is not a learning difficulty which has held them back. 

A few of these (who also happen to be outspoken on the subject) include the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Orlando Bloom, Jim Carrey, Whoopi Goldberg and Keira Knightley. Even famous scholars such as Albert Einstein and Leonardo Da Vinci were thought to have been dyslexic.

So what exactly is dyslexia?

Dyslexia can be defined in the following way:

“Dyslexia is a learning difficulty (or difference) that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.

  • Dyslexia occurs across a range of intellectual ability
  • Additional difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor coordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation
  • Dyslexia is on a continuum
  • A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds to well informed intervention” *

* (Sir Jim Rose Identifying and teaching children with dyslexia and literacy difficulties 2009).

In simple terms, your child may exhibit signs such as these:

  • Good and bad days at school, for no apparent reason
  • Confusion between directional words (e.g. up/down)
  • Confusion with sequences e.g. days of the week
  • Jumbled phrases

It is also good to check if there is a family history of dyslexia.

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) Management Board adopted Sir Jim Rose’s definition with the addition of a further paragraph:

 “In addition to these characteristics, the BDA acknowledges the visual processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia can experience, and points out that dyslexic readers can show a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process.  Some also have strengths in other areas, such as design, problem solving, creative skills, interactive skills and oral skills.”

This month on our digital media channels at Bright Heart Education we’ve spent some time taking a closer look at what dyslexia means for students with special educational needs and offering tips on how to better support them and you, their parents. There are often a lot of myths associated with being dyslexic. We aimed to bust a few of them that you might find interesting in the infographic below:

infographic on dyslexia

What can I do to make learning easier for my child?

Besides your unconditional support and loads of love and extra encouragement, one of the best ways to bolster your child’s learning journey with this particular challenge is to offer them additional assistance and increased levels of comfort through the help of a tutor. 

How can Bright Heart Education make a difference?

At Bright Heart Education, we focus first and foremost on a heart-based approach. This means that our tutors seek to build rapport with students and connect with them in a way that makes them feel heard, understood and supported. This creates an optimal environment in which learning can take place.

From an educational perspective specific to students with dyslexia, our tutors can reduce the amount of reading required by summarising or using diagrams and video footage if appropriate. Necessary reading can be simplified using bullet points instead of long paragraphs.

Material can also be made more readable using different colour font or colour to highlight and using bold instead of italics. The amount of writing required can be reduced and oral discussion may be favoured instead. Written work will usually be reviewed for content rather than accuracy. For younger students our tutors will assist with phonics.

Students with dyslexia can tire in the lesson due to additional processing. Our tutors are aware of this and will take breaks or alter the pace when necessary.

Tutors can look at spell-checking, but not where it ruins the flow of the lesson. They may also provide written notes. The tutor will aim to provide instructions verbally and provide clear structure for the student’s tasks and offer support with these tasks.

Should you wish to give your child the gift of the Bright Heart experience, get in touch for an obligation-free exploratory session and together you will feel the difference we make in our students’ lives on a daily basis.


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Using a tutor when homeschooling your child

Home-schooled boy

Homeschooling is becoming increasingly prevalent. We outline reasons to consider hiring a tutor to help.               

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

Homeschooling your child? Have you encountered some road-blocks to learning that require additional support?

Here are 4 reasons to consider hiring a tutor for your homeschooled child.

Using a tutor when homeschooling your child

Homeschooling is becoming increasingly popular. It is estimated* that ~58,000 students are currently being home schooled across England alone. This represents a 27% year-on-year increase.

ADCS Elective Home Education Survey 2018

Making the decision to home educate

There are many reasons why parents choose to home educate, particularly when tackling the challenges of special educational needs.

This can include their child’s comfort in the home environment if suffering from anxiety, practical reasons due to health and mobility challenges, behavioural issues in the school environment or recognising that their child is not getting the one-to-one attention they need for their unique style of learning.

If you are unable to provide the intense, early intervention and support that your child needs, you may wish to consider hiring a tutor.  

4 reasons to hire a tutor for your homeschooled child

  • Your child is getting older
    During the years from 10 to 14 children begin to become more self-aware. If your child has fallen behind with his or her learning, it is therefore important to tackle this before it starts to significantly impact their self-esteem. At this age they compare themselves to others and become acutely aware of their deficits – whether real or imaginary. It is very beneficial if your child develops good rapport with a qualified and experienced tutor as a supporting and positive influence.

    Homeschooling can also limit harmful bullying during this phase. Awareness is still needed for cyberbullying, however. A tutor can provide positive support if this is an issue as they represent another reference point besides parents. In these instances an holistic approach is advantageous relative to a purely academic focus.
  • Your child is not making sufficient progress at home
    With the variety of underlying causes of learning difficulties, some students have more of a deficit in working memory, processing speeds and executive function than others. This may result in slower learning and you might find your child is not making sufficient progress at home. In this instance, your child can really benefit from the experience of a patient and experienced tutor guiding and supporting their efforts on a regular basis.
  • If your family dynamic makes offering consistent support to your child a challenge
    There are limited hours in the day and sometimes the demands of modern life and parenting make it challenging for parents to be consistent enough with their children in order to effect the change that is needed. Regular and consistent tutoring is recommended to ensure much-needed input and progress. This is particularly important for children with special educational needs. 
  • If teaching your child is putting strain on your family relationships

    Children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, autism and ADHD often have a low threshold for frustration and this can result in meltdowns and/or anxiety. This has a ripple effect of creating high levels of stress in the home. Children will often behave better and try harder for a tutor who they see two or three times a week than they do for their parents. This may or may not be true for every family, but if it’s true for yours, hiring a qualified tutor with a nurturing approach to learning may be highly beneficial to your child as well as removing unnecessary stress and tension at home.

Home-schooled boy
Could your homeschooled child with special educational needs benefit from a tutor?

I'm homeschooling my child, should I use a tutoring agency?

Hiring a tutor through a tutoring agency generally provides numerous benefits. Find out more on our blog Should I Use a Tutoring Agency? 

At Bright Heart, we are always happy to discuss what is best for parents. We offer a free, no obligation in-person consultation. Feel free to get in touch with us today to discuss how we can best nurture your child’s educational progress, together.  


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Our nasen tutor training course

student doing online training course

In this article, we provide some insight from our nasen training course, produced exclusively for Bright Heart’s tutors.                  

Simon McQueen

We explain why we asked nasen to help train our tutors, discuss the course and provide insight from our tutors’ test answers.

Why did we ask nasen to help train our tutors?

The lack of tutor training was a key shortcoming observed by Ryan in working with various tutoring agencies. This was especially concerning for tutors working with students with learning challenges. 

One of Bright Heart’s main goals is to improve the quality of tuition for students who would benefit most from a more nurturing approach. We approached nasen (National Association of Special Educational Needs) to help achieve this, due to its stellar reputation over >25 years supporting SEN practitioners with training and resources.

In meeting nasen’s education team, we were surprised to find that no other tutoring agency had met with them before. We therefore commissioned nasen to produce an online training course exclusively for Bright Heart before even hiring our first tutor

The training course comprises 4 webcasts (as shown below) and a detailed written test. The aim of the course is to ensure that our tutors are adequately prepared to meet the individual learning needs of our students.

Webcast 1: The Current Context of SEND

This provides a brief overview of the legislative context of SEND (special educational needs and disability) in England. It considers the key principles of the Code of Practice (2015), followed by the models of disability. The current definition of SEND is also discussed.

The current context of SEND

Webcast 2: The 4 broad areas of need

This covers the four main divisions of SEND according to student need, being:

  • Communication and Interaction
  • Cognition and Learning
  • Sensory and / or Physical
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health

The webcast also considers how support and provision works, discussing the graduated approach and general strategies to consider for students.

4 broad areas of SEND

Webcast 3: Person-centred working

This defines person-centred working and how it should inform all interaction with students. It also explains how it should be used in conjunction with the Bright Heart Approach. Our heart-based approach focuses on the whole student and building rapport with warmth, before addressing academic needs.

Person-centred working

Webcast 4: Specific needs and strategies

This webcast provides a good examination of some specific SEN, including dyslexia, autism and social, emotional and mental health needs. It explains how understanding a student’s needs and considering related strengths and appropriate strategies helps to improve tutoring. Lastly, it discusses general strategies of engagement to add to a tutor’s tools for effective tuition.

SEND tutoring strategies

The nasen training course test

Bright Heart’s tutors are required to pass a detailed written test covering the nasen training course. The test comprises 20 questions requiring careful consideration from tutors. The focus is on applying the course material to practical learning situations. A selection of the questions posed are:

  • How might adopting the social model of disability benefit your work?
  • How could person-centred tools be used as part of the graduated approach?
  • Imagine that you are working with a young person that is being uncooperative. How might you go about trying to engage them?
  • Why is care needed when using labels to describe needs e.g. dyslexia?

Interesting insights provided by our tutors

Our tutors demonstrated their full understanding of the course material through their test answers. Reviewing these answers provided some interesting insights into their approach to tuition. Answers took into account the Bright Heart Approach, specific tools and guidance provided by the nasen training, as well as tutors’ own practical experience and other relevant training and qualifications.

A selection of helpful and insightful extracts from tutors’ answers to the questions above included:

  • "Adopting the social model is paramount to any educator's practice... Adherence to the model means looking at each one of my tutees as a unique human being, whose feelings, needs and learning style differ from those of any other human being. The Bright Heart model is quintessentially social, and relies on creating an empathetic rapport with the tutee in order to nurture not only the learner but the sentient being who has feelings, hopes, wishes and opinions of his or her own. ..."
  • "Many of the tools promote information gathering, and encourage an exploration of the young person’s world: how they experience their learning. This leads to both assessment of needs and also a recognition of what is useful to include in planning. Other tools promote review and reflection and can be used to indicate what needs changing or adapting as you go along."
  • "... Listening to the person, showing concern for their feelings, can often deal with the root of the problem, and not only the outward manifestation, which can only worsen if left untouched. Without attempting to solve the problems in people's lives, or to intervene in them in any way, simple listening and caring can help to build a healthy relationship with our tutees. Even if we manage to get a person to collaborate under a punitive approach, the fact that they are doing it under duress will only make it a short-term remedial measure. The Bright Heart approach is based on caring and understanding of tutees, not coercive measures which may assure compliance, but damage rapport, and, most importantly, fail to foster lifelong learners."
  • "Because every individual is different and they may not "fit" the dyslexic label as simply as one might expect - e.g. showing maybe one of the characteristic signs rather than all. Dyslexia is a spectrum condition, and also can occur comorbidly with other learning difficulties. Lastly, using the label may down play their strengths, such as creativity and their natural ability to see the bigger picture of concepts and problems."

Find a well-trained tutor to help your child

Bright Heart is pleased that its tutors have embraced their training and demonstrated their thorough understanding of it through their test answers. We plan to complement online training with in-person nasen training. Bright Heart’s directors have already received in-person training from nasen. We will write more about this in a future blog. 

Please get in touch to talk to us about how one of our well-trained, caring tutors could be perfect for your child!


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What is a DBS check? Does my tutor need a DBS?

what is a DBS check?

A DBS check is really a criminal records check. It is obtained from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).                                                                                                                                  

Simon McQueen

In this article, we explain what a DBS check is and consider the question of tutors and DBS certificates.

This is the third article in our series aimed at helping parents seeking tuition. It follows our blogs providing tips on finding a great tutor and tips for considering tutoring agencies.

What is a DBS check?

A DBS check is really a criminal records check. It is obtained from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). This was previously the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). The DBS issues a DBS certificate to an individual following a criminal records check. It shows certain convictions or cautions. It can also show if the person is unsuitable to work with children or adults, depending on the activity involved

Types of DBS checks

There are three main levels of checks:

  • Basic DBS - shows unspent convictions and cautions.
  • Standard DBS - shows unspent and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer and not subject to filtering. Filtering is the process of removing certain less serious offences (as prescribed by legislation).
  • Enhanced DBS - suitable for people working with children or adults in certain circumstances, including education. In addition to a standard check, it may disclose relevant non-conviction information supplied by a Chief Officer. Depending on the activity, an enhanced check may include a check of one or both of the DBS barred lists. These comprise the children’s list and the adult’s list. They contain the names of people barred from working with children or adults in a certain capacity.

Can an individual request a DBS check?

An individual can only request a basic DBS check and can do so for any purpose. An individual cannot request a standard or an enhanced DBS check. Instead, a potential employer will have to request one on an individual’s behalf. 

Can any employer carry out a DBS check or check the barred list?

A potential employer may only request a check allowed by legislation. In order to check one of the barred lists, the person must be carrying on a regulated activity. Regulated activity is work that a barred person must not do as defined by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. Regulated activity includes regular one-to-one tuition. This means a tutor’s enhanced DBS check can include a check of the children’s barred list.

How long should a DBS check take? Can I speed up the process?

Our service provider, uCheck, claims an average of 2 days to complete a DBS check. Our experience to date has been mixed, however. While certain checks have been quick, we have experienced some frustrating delays. This included a recent DBS check that took well over a month. This was clearly frustrating for both ourselves and the tutor prevented from tutoring.

uCheck advises an applicant experiencing hardship due to delays to contact the DBS directly on 03000 200 190. Tutors trying this have been told to wait for 60 days, unfortunately.

Should my tutor have a DBS certificate?

As tutors are working with your children, it is important that any tutor is in possession of a clean enhanced DBS certificate. This should include a check of the children’s barred list. Unfortunately, due to private individuals not being able to carry out these checks directly, many private tutors do not have a DBS certificate. This is the case regardless of whether or not they are listed on a private tutor directory website. 

A parent should carefully assess how well they know a tutor without a DBS certificate. Parents should ensure that a parent or responsible adult is always present in the home during tuition.

What does a DBS certificate look like?

Ryan has provided one of his enhanced DBS certificates as an example of the information it contains. Ryan obtained this for a charity providing services classed as a regulated activity to both adults and children. It therefore includes a check of both barred lists, although your tutor’s DBS certificate need not check the adult’s list.

Enhanced DBS check certificate for tutors
An example of an enhanced DBS certificate (confidential info redacted)

Bright Heart's approach to DBS checks and safeguarding

Bright Heart ensures its tutors have a clean and current enhanced DBS certificate, which includes a check of the children’s barred list. When required, we request these checks for our tutors. Tutors need to register for the DBS update service when they renew their certificates. This permits inspection at any time to ensure there have been no adverse changes. 

A DBS check is not foolproof, unfortunately. It only indicates if someone has been flagged at the time of the check. We don’t therefore simply rely on DBS checks. Further steps we take include:

  • Not allowing tutors to provide tuition unless a parent or legal guardian is present in the home.
  • Personally interviewing tutors, taking at least two third party references and checking qualifications.
  • Providing guidance and training on safeguarding and requiring all tutors to sign up to our Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy.
  • Carefully monitoring tuition to ensure our contractually agreed high standards are met.

Please get in touch to talk to one of our dedicated team to help find the perfect tutor for your child!


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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.
  • 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.
  • 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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