Disability and Learning Support Service

Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) Tutors

Guidance on working with SpLD Tutors.

Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) Specialist Tutor Guidance

There can be confusion around Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) Tutor provision, about the nature of the support, how to access it, what should it include, in what form it should be delivered and how it is funded.  The following guidance will clarify these issues for students at the University of Edinburgh.

Initial Recommendations/Tutor Matching

You may have a number of hours of tutor support recommended by an Advisor during your Needs Assessment for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).  The Advisor will discuss your areas of difficulty and then recommend Specialist Study Skills for a recommended number of hours.  (This specialist support is NOT subject-specific support – please check with an Advisor for clarification of this).  Initially, you may be allocated one hour per week for one to one tuition, but ideally, this should be reduced after the first semester or year.  However, it is recognised that all students are different and some will need fewer hours, while others will continue to meet with a tutor for longer due to the ever-changing challenges faced in each consecutive academic year.  Funding is usually provided by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) or Student Finance England (SFE). 

When you have your funding in place and have received notification from your funding body, you can be matched with a SpLD Specialist Tutor.  You should contact the named supplier listed on your funding award letter to request this support, as this will not be arranged otherwise.  Your name will be added to a list with details of which days and times are suitable.  A tutor will then be identified and asked to make arrangements to meet you.  Prior to being matched with a SpLD Tutor, you are expected to have attended your IT Tuition.

Initial Meeting with the Tutor

Arrangements for tuition will be jointly negotiated between you and the tutor.  You are expected to:

  • take responsibility for your own learning
  • help the tutor to identify your strengths and weaknesses by bringing along appropriate materials on which you wish to focus
  • approach sessions with an open mind
  • explore techniques over a number of sessions to allow time to progress

These sessions are not about course-specific work but will focus on the development of study skill strategies to help you meet the challenges of course work demands.  Ideally, a mixture of both technology-based and pen and paper methods should be adopted.  The choice of what is covered in any particular session is determined by negotiations between you and the tutor.  The sessions are designed to work on building on your strengths whilst helping you to identify ways of applying these to overcome areas of weakness.

Strategies may include:
  • The use of colour
  • Effective use of IT
  • Essay/project/thesis planning and organisation
  • Exam preparation and revision
  • Memory techniques
  • Mind mapping techniques
  • Note-taking/recording
  • Addressing learning anxiety through developing metacognition, and through modelling and mentoring by the tutor
  • Presentation skills
  • Reading techniques/research strategies
  • Developing reading comprehension
  • Understanding of tasks/briefs
  • Developing editing skills
  • Referencing / bibliographies
  • Spelling /writing skills and grammar
  • Time management and self-organisation

You will be encouraged to make the best use of your IT equipment and software throughout the sessions to develop a more independent learning style.

Tutors will produce Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) and these will be used to determine the need for additional hours once the initial allocation has been used.  You should request an appointment with an advisor in order to request further hours if this is suggested by the Tutors.