Cognition and Learning

Within the code of practice, cognition and learning is defined as follows:

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‘Support for learning difficulties may be required when children and young people learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation.  Learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including moderate learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD),where children are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and communication, through to profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), where children are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as a physical disability or sensory impairment.’

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‘Specific learning difficulties (SpLD) affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.’

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Cognition and learning needs may encompass most of the curriculum, such as for pupils with MLD or SLD.  However, cognition and learning needs may only impact on specific areas such as reading, writing, spelling and mental calculations. Cognition and learning needs generally account for difficulties in curriculum-related areas such as:

  • reading, writing and spelling
  • numerosity 
  • comprehension
  • processing difficulties such as sequencing, inference, coherence and elaboration
  • working memory
  • short term verbal memory 
  • other types of executive function difficulties


‘Inclusive education and high-quality teaching for all children in the classroom’

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The Dyslexia-SPLD Trust

The Dyslexia-SPLD Trust has a wide range of resources, including a free Professional Development Framework to help a SENCO support staff knowledge and training. The Dyslexia-SpLD and Literacy Professional Development Framework offers an evidence-based framework to support professional knowledge development:

The Dyslexia-SpLD Trust also has a useful online guide to help implement the Code of Practice. This is also available as a free download:

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The Education Endowment Foundation

The Education Endowment Foundation has a Teaching and Learning Toolkit which summarises research to help schools make decisions about teaching practice to help close the attainment gap between children:


‘Specific, extra, time-limited support in-school for children with additional needs’

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Dyslexia-SpLD Trust

Dyslexia-SpLD Trust specific resources for Targeted interventions:

Greg Brooks' compilation ‘What works – effective strategies for literacy intervention' was commissioned by the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust and is available on the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust website:

It is also hosted elsewhere:


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Interventions for Literacy

‘Interventions for Literacy’ hosts a searchable database for ‘What Works’ in respect of literacy interventions:


‘Services offered by external professionals such as occupational therapists, speech and language therapists or health professionals on or off the school site.’

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EHC plans

The first part of this document includes excerpts from real EHC plans that were collected through the local Independent Support network. In the second part there are two EHC plans which draw on real examples but the plans themselves relate to fictional children:

Engaging children and young people in the EHCP process:

Decision Making Toolkit

This decision-making toolkit is a practical guide to support social workers, health practitioners, school and college staff, parent carers, families and anyone working directly with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

It is designed to be used in partnership with young people to support them to make their own decisions and to participate as fully as possible in decisions made on their behalf:


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The research presented in this report from Scope provides an evidence base that will be of use to social care policy makers. It identifies what works well specifically for young disabled people in accessing services to live independent lives and what areas need development. This will help policy makers to ensure support services provide holistic, joined up support for young disabled people. In doing so, Scope hope young disabled people’s experiences of using support services will be more consistently positive and tailored to their specific requirements: