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Understanding Cognition & Learning

Children and young people with cognition and learning difficulties will learn at a slower pace than other children and may have greater difficulty than their peers in acquiring basic literacy or numeracy skills or in understanding concepts, even with appropriate differentiation. They may also have other difficulties such as speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and under-developed social skills.

Our students need more detailed differentiation and the curriculum set out in smaller steps. They may need more practical activities than their peers to support the development of abstract concepts. They may require specific programmes to support their progress in developing literacy and numeracy skills. The level of support required will depend on the severity of the child or young person’s cognitive difficulty and any associated needs that compound their difficulties in accessing the curriculum, such as physical impairments or communication difficulties.

Those with a cognition and learning difficulty are at increased risk of developing a mental health problem. They may need additional support with their social development, self-esteem and emotional well-being. This may be through small group work on social skills, through peer group support and through regular and positive feedback on their progress.

Children and young people with severe learning difficulties (SLD) have significant intellectual or cognitive impairments and are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum. They may have difficulties in mobility and co-ordination, communication and perception, and the acquisition of self-help skills. Children and young people with SLD are likely to need support to be independent. Those with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as significant other difficulties such as a physical disability or a sensory impairment. They are likely to need sensory stimulation and a curriculum broken down into very small steps. These children and young people require a high level of adult support, both for their educational needs and for their personal care.

Any of our students with a Specific learning difficulty (SpLD) may have difficulty with one or more aspects of learning. This includes a range of conditions such as dyslexia (difficulties with reading and spelling); dyscalculia (maths); dyspraxia (co-ordination) and dysgraphia (writing). A discrepancy between achievement and general intellectual ability may indicate that a child or young person has a SpLD, although they can occur across the whole ability range. Poor behaviour prompted by particular activities (such as avoiding reading or writing) can also be an indicator of SpLD.  Those students with specific learning difficulties may need support in sequencing and organisational skills and appropriate IT equipment and software to support the development of their literacy skills.