How Online Tutoring Works for Students with Special Needs

At Sherpa, we understand that every student’s tutoring preferences are different; and it may be difficult for some more than others to achieve these online.

The coronavirus pandemic has formed vast challenges to the education sector; and to mitigate these difficulties they need to be met with a personalised and professional platform. Students with special needs may have problems with communication, flexibility or understanding academic information via an online medium.

That’s why at Sherpa we have professionally qualified tutors for a range of special needs, including autism, to tailor these preferences and a clearly structured online whiteboard to support children with SEN (Special Educational Needs). 


What are the Challenges for SEN Students?

There are a number of recent challenges SEN students have faced with the most obvious being the sudden transition to online learning. Students with special needs have often had individualized support services in person; albeit, with lockdowns and social distancing this has resorted to the use of online learning.

As a result, students have had to adapt solely to technology which is a considerable challenge. SEN students are mostly experienced being in a physical environment to help with learning; while online learning can require lots of concentration at a single screen for long periods of time. 

Online learning has also resulted in families becoming the parents and teachers. Not only is this different to what SEN students are used to; but additionally, a new working life for parents. This is a challenge for both student and parent because students are having to rely on a new way of learning while parents are having to direct more of their time to help aid their child with online tuition.


Qualified SEN Tutors

Did you know as of January 2023, that 23.8% of students have Special Educational Needs (SEN)? It is also estimated that at least one in 100 children and young people in the UK has some form of autism. It is therefore one of our key priorities to meet all the desires of students who enter our platform. So, how is this achieved?

Sherpa’s online tutoring service offers a large number of Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCO) tutors who are professionally qualified to teach and support children with special needs. Such tutors do not necessarily tell the student the correct answer; but alternatively, makes them think and discover the answer through a logical chain of analysis. This is achieved by developing students’ problem-solving and soft skills.

To find special educational needs tutors with many years of experience, please click on ‘Find a Tutor’ on the Sherpa website homepage and then the tab on the left-hand side stating ‘SEN Experienced’

 How Learning Online Helps

As has been discussed so far, learning online has become the new norm but at the same time a very different way of learning from what many people are used to. However, online learning does provide a vast number of benefits that Sherpa aims to meet at the highest of standards. Firstly, SEN students being in their home environment reduces social anxiety because they feel in a safe location. There is no fear of being constantly watched as online learning at Sherpa is always one-to-one; ensuring your needs and desires are tailored for every session.


Being at home ensures there is an atmosphere of tranquillity and this can be extremely helpful for students with SEN to further their concentration. It is additionally important to consider that technology is also not something new. Online learning can be natural for many SEN students, particularly with the use of qualified teachers already at Sherpa to further this development.


Lastly, online learning provides a level of autonomy for SEN students. This enables students to become more independent and this is vital to furthering their analytical and soft skills. This ties towards how students must organise their time and equipment for when online learning sessions occur. This pushes SEN students further; while noting at the same time that online learning allows students to work at their own pace because there are no social pressures of being in a classroom environment, as well as reduced distractions of all kinds.




Sherpa Introductory Session

Another core feature of the Sherpa online tutoring process that complements the above points mentioned is the ability for a student and tutor to book a free introductory session before any tutoring begins. An introductory session enables a student or parent/guardian to speak to the tutor and explain what they want from the tutor. 


This is an essential component of the Sherpa tutoring process because a parent/guardian and student are able to filter through tutors until their preferences are matched. Moreover, the introductory session enables a time and day for a session to be agreed and booked in. This removes concerns over timings and rather allows sessions to be booked when it is of most convenience for both parties. 


Once a session has been locked in between tutor and student, sessions can begin on the whiteboard. The whiteboard is our tutoring platform that can be tailored to suit the interests of students with special needs for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the whiteboard contains infinite slides so instructions or subject content can be broken down into smaller tasks or sections. This enables the student to learn content systematically which is a sensible approach to follow for those who struggle to take in lots of information.

Furthermore, a tutor is able to explain content on one slide; and offer questions on the next to ensure a well-balanced tutoring session is administered. This can be broken down through an EHC plan (Education, Health and Care) to enable your child to maximise their potential and secure the best for their future. 

Additionally, there is less pressure to maintain focus. Although the hands-on multimedia nature of the whiteboard encourages engagement for a range of learning styles, the knowledge that the lesson recordings and notes will be there to review whenever you need them after the lesson is a feature that just can't be replicated in person.

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Sebastian Owen

22nd June

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