Our Philosophy and Core Values
All children and young people are seen and treated as individuals, especially with their learning and academic lives. Each child and young person will have their individual needs and strengths identified. These needs will be supported, and strengths built upon throughout their educational sessions.
All children in mainstream education are viewed as capable of learning and attaining with no exception. Each child will be supported to learn in a way that facilitates their cognitive processes and unlocks their educational potential.
We will always support children and young people to gain and maintain a positive relationship with learning, thus increasing confidence and self-efficacy through their tuition.
A child and young person’s academic self-worth, self-esteem and confidence are equally important as their learning and academic attainment.
Children and young people will be supported to be age-appropriately independent with their learning and educational development.
There are no judgements regarding a child and young person’s place of education or educational history (e.g. homeschooled, state/privately educated, expelled, excluded, diagnosed educational difficulty, mental health diagnosis, dyslexia, dyscalculia). All children, young people and their families are valued and respected equally when undertaking their tuition
One to One Tuition
Why is Westcountry SEN tuition different from normal tuition?
All the tutors who are employed by Westcountry SEN have extra specialist training for special educational needs tuition and dyslexia maths tuition. This means as well as helping children learn and understand their various subjects as normal tutors would. Westcountry SEN tutors have additional training and skills that help mainstream children who are falling behind their peers, need help to pass exams, find it hard to engage in schoolwork, have learning needs (e.g dyslexia or processing disorders) or who require specialist academic support.
What age children do you work with?
We work with children from the ages of 6 to 19
Do you work with Adults?
Yes, we can offer SEN tuition on a 1:1 basis and we also have adult classes.
Where does the tuition take place?
The SEN tuition (Special Educational Needs Tuition) can take place in one of our fully equipped practice rooms, at your home (or place of your choice) or via our online whiteboard. Our practice rooms are in Blandford and Shaftesbury.
Our online interactive whiteboard turns your or your child’s computer into a powerful learning tool. It’s both engaging and purpose-built for delivering specialist tuition. You can have a live real-time one-to-one session with your own personal tutor anywhere in the world.
Where the tuition takes place is based on your preferences and what your child needs. Some parents find that their home isn’t quiet enough, or the child will get too distracted. Other parents find that their child feels safer when learning at home than if travelling to another destination.
What happens in between my child’s tutoring sessions?
From the moment you decide you want to have special educational needs tuition from us, you will be assigned a Learning Supervisor. It is this person’s job to monitor your child’s tuition progress and to help with any stuck areas. The learning Supervisor closely monitors your child’s tuition by meeting regularly with each tutor to discuss and support with your child’s learning.
Do I get any feedback about how my child is progressing?
Yes, you will be allocated an online private account where you can securely log in and see a session report within 24 hours of your child’s session. You will also be able to phone/email/have a meeting to discuss how your child is progressing as often as you need.
How do you match the tutor to my child?
When you make contact for SEN tuition, you will be offered a free consultation for special educational needs tuition where you can ask any questions you might have, and we can find out what educational help your child will need. This consultation can either happen over the phone, in your home or in one of our practice rooms. Some parents prefer to write things down instead, we have parental assessment forms that can be sent to you.
What if I want to cancel a booked session for any reason?
We do not believe in fixing people into contracts for SEN Tuition in Dorset (Special Educational Needs Tuition), you are free to cancel any session at any time. All we ask for is 24 hours’ notice. Any session that is cancelled with less than 24 hours is charged for. However aside from that 24-hour rule, you are free to cancel whenever you like.
In School Tuition
If you would like to book one of our SEN tutors for 1:1 or small group special educational needs and dyslexia maths tuition in your school or college, we can accommodate that. We will work together to see which of our specialist tutors is the best fit for your organisation.
We can work with you on a one-off basis, short term cover or for more longer-term support for SEN tuition.
Do get in touch to discuss to see how we can benefit your students using our SEN tutors.
In the early days when we began training our new SEN tutors to work with children and young people who had diagnosed learning difficulties or other issues and behaviours that made learning difficult, we looked for external training to help with the workload.
However, we quickly found that there was not much in the way of training out in the public domain that matched all of what we needed. We wanted quality training that brought together child psychology, child counselling, educational psychology, engagement techniques and the relevant application to 1:1 SEN tutoring sessions. The goal was to help the professional have the background information, recognise what was happening in the SEN tutoring session and the best way to modify the learning for that individual child. We quickly realised that Westcountry SEN would need to lead the way with this training.
We have now developed our own online courses to help those working with children outside of Westcountry SEN. These courses are geared towards Teachers, tutors, childcare workers, parents and anyone with a general interest.
It was back in July 2013 it happened; I was driving home pondering over the day. I had been researching how we learn at Exeter University and scanning people’s brains whilst they did a small learning task. The biology of the brain was supposed to explain exactly what was happening in learning, but I knew there was something else going on besides biology. I’d never been able to understand in all my 20 years of working in and investigating learning, why people have such a fixed view of how they will do in a test or an academic task; whether they will be any good or if they will embarrass themselves. I found more people were afraid of the actual academic test than being inside an MRI scanner for an hour.
Some people wanted to justify why they wouldn’t or might not do well, others wanted to see if the results were ranked and where would they be in that rank. It didn’t surprise me at all. I had heard those fears for years.
Was it just how people thought of themselves, did it really matter? However, years of teaching children and adults has shown me it does matter. In my former years training healthcare professionals, I’d witnessed highly skilled adults crumble and panic over the announcement of a test or producing a report, never any different than the 10-year-olds I had worked with who were terrified of tests or producing something written. I knew those fears affected what they could mentally do.
If it was just people’s thoughts that affected their academic performance, couldn’t we just train them to think differently? As soon as I asked that question, I knew it wasn’t possible. My first postgraduate studies in clinical psychology illuminated how we are more than just our thoughts. Interventions designed to change a person’s thinking and behaviour were being shown to have very poor long-term effects. Also, my specialism of working with children who have dyslexia has proven repeatedly that it takes a considerable amount of skill and knowledge of cognitive processes to teach these children and adults. I knew that ‘positive thinking’ type coaching with children with dyslexia or processing problems, was as useful and as painful as telling a child with broken legs they can walk if they believed in themselves enough. When I graduated, I gave seminars to new clinical psychology students to raise awareness of the emotional impact of dyslexia when they are working with clients, specifically the powerlessness and helplessness they may have suffered as a child in the hands of untrained and unskilled educators.
All my research, training and experience constantly showed me that what affected a person’s ability to learn and perform was the quality of the instruction and tutoring that a child was receiving, and how that child thought and believed in themselves. Both the cognitive learning and emotional lives were equally important, although it was never crystal clear how. Until that evening in July, when driving home, I turned on my new audiobook ‘Mastery’ by Graham Greene.
The book covered a vast array of learning research exploring the concept of Mastery. Mastery is when you are so skilled at something, it becomes a part of you and you are as proficient as you can ever be. The great achievers such as Darwin, Mozart and Henry-Ford were all used as examples. The key part for me was about repeated practise. How by practising for 10 years or by 10,000 hours of practise a person can ‘Master’ a subject to the highest skill level possible. It was also argued that people with dyslexia have a quicker route to mastery, as seen in the field of music, business arts, creative writing and many more fields.
As I listened on the drive home, everything connected for me. I realised that as we all know, when children are at school they are learning academically. However, by comparing themselves to others or putting performance pressure on themselves, they are also learning something else at the same time. They are learning their academic self-worth. On average, by the time a child finishes primary school 6,840 hours of learning have taken place. Well on the way to achieving mastery level with their academic self-worth. Then on average by the time a child finishes their GCSE’s 12,540 hours of class-based learning has taken place. I finally understood why this academic self-worth could become so fixed and continue through adulthood. If a child is teaching themselves, they are not clever, not bright, not good enough and will never achieve at their education or any ‘academic work’, by the time they leave school they are ‘Mastering’ that line of thinking. It then drives their behaviours and future decisions. This is what they carry into their adult lives. I realised it was this academic self-worth that governed how receptive the child would be to learning from their class teachers, new things in general, revising for exams and fulfilling their potential.
So, from that day Westcountry SEN was born. A tuition company that hand selects and trains skilled SEN tutors who are not only highly skilled with advanced tutoring practices, but who are also tuned in to the child’s self-narrative and can challenge any learnt self-destructive academic thoughts and fears as they arise. We also specialise in dyslexia maths tuition and are qualified spelling tutors.
Not a day goes by in which I’m not proud of every student who has come through Westcountry’s SEN’s doors and what they have all achieved. We have hundreds of success stories and continue to improve children’s academic lives which become the foundations for confident adults who can rely on their ability to learn.
I welcome you to get in touch and see if we can help your child write their learning story as one of confidence and achievement that they can carry with them into their adult lives thanks to SEN tuition in Dorset. We really do offer lessons for life.
Director, Westcountry SEN.
Due to COVID -19 none of our adult classes are running at the moment.