About Us | Engagement 4 Learning

The Engagement for Learning Framework was developed with educators for educators through the CLDD Research Project (2009-2011) convened and directed by Professor Barry Carpenter (Carpenter et al., 2011, 2015). The Engagement for Learning resources were variously developed and trialled both nationally and internationally with teachers, teaching assistants, therapists and psychologists from 96 schools, and over 200 children as participants. In the light of the current Rochford Review, you might be interested to read the original report of the DfE-supported CLDD Research Project by clicking here.

The inspiration for the Engagement for Learning Framework came from teachers. Prior to 2009, teachers had been raising concerns with the then Department for Children, Schools and Families about a new generation of complex learners arriving in their schools whom they felt poorly equipped to manage. In response, the Department for Education (and formerly the DCSF) commissioned the SSA Trust through tender and supported the CLDD Research Project to develop evidence-based pathways to personalized learning for this group of children.

Children with complex learning difficulties and disabilities now coming through our school system include a new population of children whose needs challenge the creativity and resourcefulness of even the most experienced and talented teachers. They are increasingly taught in mainstream schools as well as in special schools. The following definition of complex learning difficulties and disabilities (CLDD) was created in consultation with project schools and specialists and was submitted to the Department for Education:

Children and young people with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (CLDD) have conditions that co-exist. These conditions overlap and interlock creating a complex profile. The co-occurring and compounding nature of complex learning difficulties requires a personalized learning pathway that recognizes children and young people’s unique and changing learning patterns. Children and young people with CLDD present with a range of issues and combination of layered needs; for example, mental health, relationship, behavioural, physical, medical, sensory, communication and cognitive. They need informed specific support and strategies which may include transdisciplinary input to engage effectively in the learning process and to participate actively in classroom activities and the wider community. Their attainments may be inconsistent, presenting an atypical or uneven profile. In the school setting, learners may be working at any educational level including the National Curriculum…

These children are not only those with profound and multiple learning difficulties placed in special schools. They also include mainstream learners whose complex difficulties may arise from premature birth, advanced medical interventions in infancy, parental substance and alcohol abuse (e.g. fetal alcohol spectrum disorders), or rare chromosomal disorders, for example. They may have co-existing and co-occurring diagnoses, such as dyslexia together with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), tuberous sclerosis together with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), etc. Some children have compounding conditions such as sensory perceptual issues or mental health problems.

Carpenter, B., Egerton, J., Cockbill, B., Bloom, T., Fotheringham, J and Rawson, H. (2015) Engaging Learners with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities. Abingdon: Routledge.

Carpenter, B., Egerton, J., Brooks, T., Cockbill, B., Fotheringham, J. and Rawson, H. (2011) ‘The complex learning difficulties and disabilities research project: developing meaningful pathways to personalised learning’ (project report). London: Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. [Online at: http://complexld.ssatrust.org.uk/project-information.html]