What is the role of the tutor in helping students with special needs?

The tutor’s key role is to help  students overcome their learning difficulties, both in the long term and the short term. A Good tutor, using specialised teaching methods, can make a significant impact on a student's success and self-confidence. Because students come to a tutor from many sources, the way in which a tutor works with students will vary from student to student.

Online Tutor Online student

Where to start

Many students referred by SPELD SA come with in-depth educational assessments which are a great help in assessing where and how to commence. They generally pinpoint the areas of need and highlight the areas in which a student excels. Other students are referred by word of mouth and come with no form of assessment at all. It is then up to the tutor to conduct their own form of assessment, commence work and some time later they may recommend a referral for further assessment.


Wherever possible it is preferable to work in conjunction with school teachers because this can give a more unified approach, help to monitor the amount of work a student is required to do and make the tutoring work more “real” as opposed to “invented to serve a purpose”. Tutors can play a valuable supporting role as they are able to work one to one with students. The cooperation achieved with teachers varies but in many cases a tutor can help many students in a school just by helping one by introducing ideas or assistive technology that can be taken up in the mainstream.

A tutor also plays an important role with parents by supporting, informing and helping them to have reasonable and realistic expectations of their child. Tutoring is part of a bigger partnership and it is good for parents and students to know that they have someone unequivocally ‘on their side’ helping them to manage their learning difficulties.


A tutor can help identify and prioritise a student’s needs and a good tutor will always ‘refer on’ if they feel they are not meeting those needs. Finding a tutor who specialises in a certain area is often a good idea for very specific needs. There is also the issue of what a tutor cannot do (perform miracles!).

A tutor’s role is to assist with both present and future learning, so there needs to be a two-pronged approach. A tutor may spend part of a lesson working at tasks which a student needs help with now, such as writing assignments, reading, projects etc. in the other part of the lesson we work from where a student is now in their knowledge and build up their skills in areas such as phonics, grammar and so on.

There are some students who despite everyone’s best efforts will never be good readers or spellers. By the time a student gets to year 5 or 6, if they have had good teaching for a number of years and still not responded, one of the best things we can do is to introduce them to technology, such as voice recognition, that will enable them to get on with their learning rather than spend all of their learning time concentrating on the tools of learning – reading and writing. 

To request a SPELD SA tutor click on the following links

Online tutors

Face-to-face tutors

SPELD SA needs tutors in all areas

Are you a registered teacher with more than 2 years classroom experience? Do you have an hour or two you could spare each week? • Tutoring is flexible with times and locations to suit. • Online tutoring is an option for those with computer experience or wanting to learn. • Earn extra income.

Tutors can attend all workshops for half price.

Click here to download registration forms and get more information

Click on the links below to see the roles of other specialists
Speech Pathologist
Class Teacher
Occupational Therapist
Educational Psychologist

SPELD SA is generously supported by

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SPELD SA would like to acknowledge the support of the Douglas Whiting Trust in the development of this website.

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