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Severe, Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities – Skills & Knowledge30 creditsMaster of EducationOnlineContinuing Professional DevelopmentValidated by Middlesex University


Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities

‘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

Module Leader – Tracy Edwards

Tracy has vast experience in leading developments in curriculum and assessment for pupils with severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties.  Throughout her career, she has served in a range of senior leadership roles within special education.   She has also contributed the national policy dialogues about statutory requirements for pupils with complex needs. Currently, Tracy is funded by an Elphinstone Scholarship at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, to conduct research into how experienced teachers reach decisions relating to diverse cohorts of learners.

Why take this module?

Develop the specialist knowledge and practice-based understanding that will enable you to become a specialist in this area and to make a real difference to the lives of children with specific learning difficulties (SLD) or profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD).

Through applied learning, you will get a technical understanding of their needs. You will learn how to adapt the curriculum for them; how to assess their progress; and how to collaborate with parents, carers and other professionals to meet their needs.

Also, you will gain an in-depth foundational knowledge of the relevant theories, policies and research, and the ability to critique knowledge and existing practice.

Please note

From September 2018 our Application & Reflection modules have been replaced by a new 30-credit complimentary module called Evidence and Pedagogy for Inclusion. The individual Application and Reflection modules are no longer available. If you are booking a Skills & Knowledge module and wish to also register for an Application & Reflection module please select Evidence and Pedagogy for Inclusion on the booking form.

Cohorts begin in January, May, or September.

The next cohort begins on 15 September. Book and enrol before 15 September to join our next cohort.

How will you benefit?

Develop professional expertise

  • Assess and develop communication skills.
  • Enhance communication between children, parents and other professionals.
  • Become familiar with the key aspects of physical/personal care and medical support.
  • Understand and respond to legislation.
  • Critically analyse the current research and practice.
  • Develop your understanding of working with other services.
  • Appreciate safeguarding, privacy and dignity issues in relation to care and support.
  • Understand how to encourage family-centered/family-focused practice.
  • Facilitate positive changes in behaviour.
  • Evaluate the impact of a chosen intervention.

Add real value to your school

  • Bring expertise in-school and save money.
  • Develop practical skills, tutored by experienced professionals.
  • Access a wealth of practical resources, academic research, and interactive materials to support you.
  • Develop your confidence to support the most vulnerable and complex children in your school effectively.

Learn on the job

  • Harness your day-to-day professional experience and work with your tutor to develop your skills.
  • Theories, reflection, and activities will help you to explore aspects of your own and others’ practice.

Engage with flexible e-learning

  • Study online and integrate your learning into your working day.
  • Work at a time and pace that suits you.
  • Take part in a flexible module that draws on a broad range of learning tasks and practical experience.
  • Work closely with your peers and dedicated tutors online.
  • Experience mentoring and work placements that really complement your learning.
  • Access our sophisticated online learning platform and utilise the latest technologies: video and multimedia content, case studies and problem-based scenarios, directed reading, structured learning logs, online discussion, online questionnaires, peer evaluation, student forum and webinars (with tutors and guest lecturers).

Accrue credits towards your MEd

  • Attain 30 Masters-level (M-level) credits when you successfully complete the Severe, Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities module.
  • We offer an unrivaled range of follow-on, practice-led SEND courses that count towards your MEd.
  • Get 180 credits and the MEd is yours.

Connect with your peers

  • Obtain exclusive access to Campus OnlineTM.
  • Interact with your peers using our advanced learning platform and our unique student forum.

We will ensure that you never feel lonely or unsupported in your studies.

Liaise with experienced tutors

  • Enjoy dedicated specialist support from a broad range of experienced tutors.
  • Work with a learning coach, professional tutor and receive dedicated support from the tutor team – made up of experienced SENCOs/SEN consultants/educational psychologists (EPs).

Our SENCOs and EPs know the education sector inside out.

Choose a start date that suits you

Cohorts begin in January, May, or September.

The next cohort begins on 15 September. Book and enrol before 15 September to join our next cohort.

Please note

The Severe, Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities module is quality assured by Middlesex University.

The module content

Strand one: Understanding the context and perspective of the learner

  • Explore the case history and context of a learner with SLD/PMLD/CLDD and disabilities as the first stage in developing strategies for meeting their long- and short-term needs.
  • Establish a mentoring relationship with a manager/colleague who is working with learners with SLD/PMLD/CLDD – explain the structure of the tasks that you are undertaking to them and identify an appropriate learner to focus on.
  • Develop a framework that will enable you to profile the learner and create a rich picture of their current needs and support. You will introduce yourself to the learner, the family members and other professionals involved with them; you will also familiarise yourself with their narrative.
  • Create a multi-perspective account of the learner’s journey from birth to the current time and context.

Strand two: Curriculum planning for your focus learner

  • Work closely with your focus learner’s class/subject teacher and classroom team to understand the learner’s educational needs and how the class team assesses and plan to meet those needs.
  • Consider the learner’s needs in the context of their stage of development and whether they are following a delayed pattern of typical child development or an atypical developmental pathway.
  • Get to grips with the rationale for the pedagogy currently in place for that pupil by identifying the barriers to learning that the focus learner faces and the specific needs that must be met if they are to overcome them in the class context.
  • Consider the latest specialist pedagogical approaches and how well suited they are to the needs of the focus learner.
  • Critique an existing curriculum plan and, where appropriate, suggest and justify alternative approaches or additional strategies that will meet the learner’s needs more effectively.

Strand three: Understanding communication and managing behaviour

  • Build on your work in the previous strands by considering the focus learner from a behaviour-management perspective.
  • Develop strategies that meet the needs of the learner in day-to-day classroom situations.
  • Understand how shortfalls in communication can be linked to challenging behaviour.
  • Get to the heart of the communication approaches that the team uses with their learner and use the concept of ‘total communication’ to identify communication and behavioural difficulties that pose the greatest barriers to learning.
  • Gather available information on strategies that have been adopted for your learners and their success.
  • Consider these approaches in light of additional strategies and identify the latest interventions that might have a beneficial impact on the learner.
  • Lead a meeting with key partners to devise a behaviour plan for the focus learner, including steps to be taken, anticipated outcomes and the monitoring strategy – this will be on the basis of the research that you have carried out throughout this module.

How will you be assessed?

You will need to produce:

  • Critical analysis: Write a piece about SLD, PMLD or CLDD that includes a case study on a child or young person (3,000 words).
  • Practice analysis one: Produce a curriculum plan that demonstrates the integration of theory and practice (1,500 words).
  • Practice analysis two: Deliver a behaviour management plan that sheds light on the integration of theory and practice (1,500 words).

Where indicated by your tutor, you may submit multimedia resources that you have produced within your applied practice as part of your final portfolio of evidence.

How is the module delivered?

  • You will develop your professional knowledge and understanding through practice – it’s the best way to learn.
  • Campus OnlineTM will support you with content that complements your learning every step of the way.
  • Study with some of the finest practitioners around and engage with outstanding content and practical activities that truly enhance your professional development.

Are you eligible?

Do you have an undergraduate degree?

You will need one to take this module.

Already working in an education setting?

You will get the most out of this module if you work in an education setting with children, young people or adults.

Or do you require access to an education setting?

You will need to get written permission from a senior member of staff to regularly access a setting. We will show you the best way to do this, enabling you to carry out our learning activities in your chosen setting.

Please note

As part of this process, you will also need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Visit GOV.UK for more information.

Are you based in an international setting?

The Severe, Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities course is available online and can, therefore, be completed anywhere in the world. Please click here for advice on payment options and other information relevant to those studying outside of the UK.

How much does it cost?

We offer a flexible range of fees to suit your finances:

  • A one-off payment of £1,400 + VAT
  • Three instalments of £492 + VAT
  • Ten instalments of £152 + VAT

For further information please visit the payment FAQ page found here.

Speak to us (01273 358080) or make a booking.

When does the course start?

Cohorts begin in January, May, or September.

The next cohort begins on 15 September. Book and enrol before 15 September to join our next cohort.

Please note: as it takes time to process your application and payment, we strongly recommend registering as soon as possible, so that you don’t miss the next intake.

How long does it take to complete the course?

The duration of this module is up to one year.

We do understand, however, that circumstances can arise that could prevent the course from being completed in this time period. If this is the case, an extension can be arranged in conjunction with the admin team and your tutor.

Download a brochure

Our SEND Programme Prospectus will provide you with additional information on M-level practice-led learning modules in SEND.

Download the prospectus.

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