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Severe and Complex Learning Difficulties

Severe and Complex Learning Difficulties (SLD & PMLD)  

What are severe and complex learning difficulties?

“There are approximately 38,000 school-aged children in England with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) or Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD)… This is a group of children with the most complex needs, and they need to be taught by high quality, adaptable teachers, who are able to keep pace with their requirements.”

Toby Salt, Independent Review of Teacher Supply for Pupils with Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties

What are the difficulties associated with teaching children with SLD & PMLD?

PMLD students are often used to having little control over their environment due to their inability to communicate. This can lead to a huge struggle in distinguishing the preferences of these children. As a result, it can be difficult to interpret a child’s feelings simply through their vocalisations, body language and facial expressions.

How can we help students with SLD & PMLD?

Get to know them on a personal and medical basis

This way, you can start to understand the child and build that personal connection. Using this relationship as a basis for teaching is a great way to help the child learn and fulfil their potential.

Be patient

Of course, in dealing with SLD and PMLD children you are going to need a lot of patience. Progression will be very gradual and always remember to celebrate the small wins along the way.


As MenCap say: “it’s helpful to talk about groups of people who have common concerns and distinctive needs, face barriers to be included and need help to fight for their equal rights.” There are many important links on their website, so we suggest you explore here.

Where Do SchoolAwards and BehaviourWatch come into it?

BehaviourWatch is in use by SEN schools both nationally and internationally to efficiently record critical data to help institutions clearly identify patterns and answer vital questions that will help you put provisions in place to reduce outbursts and promote positive behaviour.

SchoolAwards is able to help schools create a positive environment within a school, and develop all students for the future by making rewarding students easy. You’re able to notice positive and negative behaviour trends ahead of time, so all school staff can be equipped to help students succeed.

Each system is custom built to match existing policies and processes to support SEN schools with all aspects of behaviour management and can include SEMH assessment, EHCPs and intervention tracking to improve outcomes.


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