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Additional Learning Needs

Some students require educational provision, that is different from or additional to that normally available to pupils of the same age. Schools need to identify these children as early as possible, so longer-term interventions can be put in place. These students will be making less than expected progress, given their age and individual circumstances. This can be characterised by progress which:

  • is significantly slower than that of their peers starting from the same baseline
  • fails to match or better the child’s previous rate of progress
  • fails to close the attainment gap between the child and their peers
  • widens the attainment gap


Progress is not limited to attainment. Some children need to make additional progress with wider development or social needs in order to make a successful transition to adult life.

Additional learning needs can be identified at an early age, but, for many children, these needs emerge as they develop. Any adult working with children should be alert to emerging difficulties and respond early.

High quality teaching targeted at the area of need should be the first response to an additional learning need.

Slow progress and low attainment do not necessarily mean that a child has an additional learning need, but may be an indicator. Equally, progress in line with age-group should not rule out an additional need.

This video, based on the UK Special Educational Needs Code of Practice, summarises the above, and briefly describes the broad categories of need. To view this video please click here