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Our Lady and St. Patrick's Catholic Primary School Part of the Mater Christi Multi-Academy Trust

Cognition and Learning

Cognition and Learning


The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: for 0-25 years (2014) states that cognition and learning refers to the support for learning difficulties when learners cognitively develop at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation. Learners with cognition and learning needs may find it difficult to:


 Understand basic concepts

 Acquire basic skills in Reading, Writing and Maths resulting in a lack of confidence to use and develop the skills they do have

 Apply logical reasoning to social and academic situations

 Solve problems

 Develop communication and social skills expected of their age which can lead to immature social and emotional understanding

 Develop fine and gross motor skills

 Organise themselves

 Remember facts, numbers, timetables, grammatical rules etc.

 Socialise with their peers of the same age


Cognition and learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including:


Moderate Learning Difficulty (MLD)


MLD is the term used to describe learners whose academic attainment is significantly lower than that of their peers. Generally these children will have difficulty acquiring basic skills in Maths and English and often find it difficult to remember and apply what has been taught. Other difficulties may include associated speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and underdeveloped social skills. Further information can be found at:


Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty (PMLD)


PMLD refers to a learner with one or multiple profound learning disabilities. These learners usually require support with daily activities, such as feeding, washing, dressing and communication. The specific support that is required will always depend on the way in which the different learning disabilities impact the individual. Learners with profound and multiple learning disabilities often have additional physical, sensory, mental or mobility problems that mean that they may need additional support. For a learner with profound and multiple learning disabilities, the amount of support that is required may stay at this level throughout their lives, whereas those with mild or moderate learning disabilities may require different levels of support as they progress through their school career.

Further information can be found at:


Severe Learning Difficulty (SLD)


SLD would be identified at birth or in early childhood. Learners with SLD could; have little or no speech, find it difficult to learn new skills including walking; require support with daily tasks such as dressing, washing, eating and keeping safe and would require life-long support. Further information can be found at:


Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD)


SpLD is the term used for learners who have difficulties with particular aspects of learning, such as:




Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which affects 1 in every 10 people. It is not categorised as a learning disability as it does not necessarily impact on learner intelligence. Learners with dyslexia may read and write at a slower pace, confuse the order of letters in words, confuse similar letters, for example b and d, find it difficult to follow sequences of instructions and have poor organisational skills.

Further information can be found at:




Dyscalculia is usually perceived of as a specific learning difficulty for mathematics or, more appropriately, arithmetic. Learners with dyscalculia often have difficulties memorising arithmetic facts and struggle with basic mathematical concepts such as counting.

Further information can be found at:




Dyspraxia affects fine and gross motor coordination and can occur in both children and adults. Learners may present with difficulties with self-care, writing, typing, riding a bike and play although dyspraxia does not directly affect learner attainment. Further information can be found at: