Engaging Students who are reluctant to learn

I’ve worked with lots of students that are reluctant to learn and it is something that I specialise in, really engaging with students, who are traumatised or scared of education.

Often this is because of a special educational need, which has meant that it has been hard for them to access the curriculum. They may feel behind or not understand what is happening in a particular subject. Sometimes students have completely disengaged with learning and need a long transition back towards any kind of work.

Sometimes, students are seeking connection. Making these connections makes it easier for them to learn. A lot of my students are demand avoidant for one reason or another.

This can look like:

  • Arriving late for lessons
  • Talking about a different subject
  • Looking out of the window
  • Yawning, looking away, failing to make eye contact
  • Telling me ”no!”
  • Ripping up work, scribbling over work
  • Taking a long time to finish a project
  • Walking away from a lesson

This is where the challenge to me lies. I have had lots of students who have employed one or more of the above strategies and what I return to each time is an opportunity to make a connection, make the child understand that I am on their side and figure out a way through. This means that I often have to prioritise the relationship with the child before any real academics begins, but this is much more fruitful in the long run! It also means that I adopt a child-led approach to education. If my student wants to talk to me about dinosaurs, Scooby-Doo or volcanoes, I can figure out a way to use this interest to engage them in a lesson. I have made books around favourite subjects, played games, talked about political and historical issues using the context of TV or podcasts and figured out ways to be trusted to be on a journey with them to learn.

I also sometimes have to consider their sensory needs, some of my students need to run around outside for 5 minutes, or need a drink and a snack to help regulate their emotional state. I spend a lot of time observing my students so that with time I can notice their change in state and step in before they dysregulate.

I also admit that I can make mistakes myself, that I don’t know everything and this helps my students see that we can learn together. Ultimately, if you have a child that can’t engage in education, usually because their needs are not being met in some way, finding a way in is the most important part of my job.

Tutoring is a job that is focused on a relationship between tutor and tutee and prioritising this relationship before academics is what makes reluctant students begin to join in. Do you remember a teacher or adult that focused on your needs, encouraged and spoke to you on your level so you could succeed? That is what I want to do for my students every day!

Qualifications & Experience


BA(Hons) First Class – University of Kent – English and American Literature with Creative Writing and a Year Abroad

MSc – King’s College London – Medical Humanities

PhD – University of Manchester – Poetry and Disability Studies

Level 5 Diploma in Teaching Learners with Dyslexia, Specific Learning Differences and Barriers to Literacy

Safeguarding training via NSPCC

The National Autistic Association certifications on: Understanding Autism, Autism and Communication, Autism, Stress and Anxiety, Autism and Sensory Experience, Autism: Supporting Families, Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum.

DBS Check on the update service

Fully insured


Tutoring a variety of students since 2017

Students with Dyslexia

Students with Autism/ASD and ADHD

Students with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

Students with attachment difficulties/developmental trauma

Students with Chronic Illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, Elhers Danlos Syndrome and other long-term conditions.

Students with brain injuries including ABIs and TBIs

Students who have personal budgets for education or EOTAS (Education other than at school)

Attendance at Multi-disciplinary meetings, EHCP reviews, mediation meetings and meetings with schools.

Preparation of reports for EHCPs, tribunals, mediation and other professionals.

Experience with students with behaviour issues, utilising a PACE/therapeutic approach to behaviour management.

Published poet and writer.

How am I different from other tutors?

When you visit a website with lots of tutors listed, it is sometimes hard to see which tutors are better than the others. Here are a few reasons why I am different from the other tutors out there!

  • I have been tutoring as my permanent job for the last 5 years, I have experience with a very large variety of students aged 6-adult and in multiple subjects. I regularly teach GCSE, A Level and degree level students in English, Sociology and the humanities. I also have experience in a lot of different kinds of special educational needs and how to approach tutoring students with barriers to learning. As tutoring is my permanent job I am able to concentrate on the needs of the child and how to approach each lesson with extensive preparation and consideration. 
  • I have a lot of experience. I have taught a lot of different students with a lot of different needs and I know how to get the best out of the students that I teach. Many parents comment on how much more confidence their children have, which is translated into improved grades. Children who are not working towards qualifications have also demonstrated a greater engagement in learning and will often improve their reading/writing/spelling and knowledge of a wide variety of subjects. 
  • I am very well educated. I have a BA(Hons), MSc and PhD. I have recently qualified as a specialist teacher of dyslexia and I am continually participating in extra training and learning to ensure I am up to date and well informed about different parts of teaching and tutoring.
  • I really enjoy it, and I’m generally a happy, easy going person to get along with! This is important when you are inviting someone into your own home and want them to get along with your child, who may be nervous and not keen on the idea of a tutor!
  • I specialise in Special Needs tutoring and am well informed about different learning difficulties as well as chronic illnesses and disabilities and how they may affect learning. I am knowledgeable about the legislation surrounding special educational needs, as well as the difficulties in negotiating this. I am also used to producing reports and working with other professionals such as speech and language specialists, neuropsychologists, psychotherapists, other tutors and staff from LEAs. 
  • I can provide multiple subject tutoring. For many of my students who are home educated or have special needs, it is important to provide a wide variety of learning opportunities. I can devise a lesson on the spot if needed, responding to my student’s interests that day! Or I can also provide project-based learning, child-led learning and my tutoring bag is full of bags and games to help engage even the most reluctant children! In the past, children have showed up with an interest and I have managed to create a lesson around what they want to talk about that day. 

If you want to find out more about my approach to tuition, please see my other blog posts on the topic!

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss tutoring for your child, and if you have any questions about what I can provide.

info@wealthofknowledgetuition.co.uk or 07546527950


Published Work

Here is some of my published work, awards and reviews.




PhD Thesis: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/en/theses/how-to-explain-this-and-the-construction-of-disability-in-british-female-poetry-in-the-1990s2010s-how-susan-wicks-and-jo-shapcott-typify-the-new-generations-attention-to-body-and-difference(61d33e0c-68c3-4727-bb42-80ca99424c0e).html


Stairs & Whispers