Cognition and learning within SEND

Professional guidance on cognition and learning support for SEND.

If you are concerned because a child doesn’t seem to be learning as well as you would expect, it’s a good idea to talk to the health visitor, nursery or schoolteacher. They will be able to talk to you about how the child seems to learn in different environments, and whether they share your concerns. If they agree that the child is learning at a slower pace or in a different way than others, they will know how to access extra support and advice.

Cognition and learning difficulties encompass a wide range of needs, including moderate learning difficulties (MLD) and severe learning difficulties (SLD), where children and young people are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum as well as having associated difficulties with mobility and communication. Profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) refer to severe and complex learning difficulties as well as a significant physical disability or sensory impairment.

This area of SEND also includes specific learning difficulties and differences (SpLD). Specific learning difficulties and differences (SpLD) can affect one or more specific aspects of learning and encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia (known as Developmental Co-ordination Disorder). Neurodiversity is a term increasingly being used to describe the differences in learning such young people experience.

All the specialist teachers from the cognition and learning team, part of the SEND Hubs, provide advice, support and training to those who deliver education and training to children and young people with cognition and learning difficulties in the 0 to 25 years age range.

This advice and support includes working with school and setting staff teams to enable the development of their own provision through:

  • use of the North Yorkshire Progression Pyramid
  • modelling assessments
  • signposting to appropriate resources and evidence-based interventions
  • carrying out further assessment of the child or young person’s specific needs and strengths
  • curriculum differentiation and personalised learning
  • modification and structuring of the learning environment and differentiation of the curriculum
  • the physical, emotional, behavioural and educational implications of specific learning difficulties
  • professional development for mainstream staff, including accredited training
  • minor adaptations, specialist equipment and alternative ways of addressing the needs of young people with specific learning difficulties
  • a person-centred approach to managing transitions

They will liaise directly with parents to share information about their child or young person.

The specialist cognition and learning teachers also work effectively in partnership with other professionals, such as specialist teachers from other teams, educational psychologists and health professionals. This is part of the SEND Hubs, and the normal way to access this service is for the teacher or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) at school to make a referral. Schools can also purchase training in the full range of cognition and learning needs, and how to work with them through North Yorkshire Education Services.