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The Engagement for Learning Framework is a resource for educators, including teachers, teaching assistants and therapists working in both mainstream and special education. It enables them to explore and identify effective teaching and learning strategies for children with complex learning difficulties and disabilities, as well as to record, measure and demonstrate learning outcomes in a meaningful way.
Every child is and can be a learner. The ELF resources (see Resources tab) support educators to facilitate and adjust learning experiences in ways that invite and engage children with CLDD so they are able to acquire knowledge, understanding and skills. The outcomes for children can be transformative as the quote below illustrates:
- has gone from exclusion to attending lessons and asking for extra work… [She] said yesterday, ‘I used to tell my mum I hated this school. I don’t tell her that now.’
Mainstream secondary school
Engagement for Learning
Attention, or engagement, is the most important predictor of successful learning outcomes for a child, even above IQ (Wolke 2013). Multiple studies over several decades have clearly demonstrated that without engagement, there is no meaningful learning.
It is essential to emphasize that we are talking about engagement for learning. The Engagement for Learning Framework supports educational outcomes. The approach is not about giving children what they like to ‘keep them quiet’, but about how educators can work with children to enable their ‘learning readiness’.
Even the most hard-to-reach learners have some interest, whether in school or outside, that captures their attention. As educators, we often know a lot about what children cannot do, but very little about what they can, and do, do. For children with complex learning needs it is crucial that educators have a grasp of what engages their interest and why, and explore how this can be used to increase the learning impact of what educators deliver each day in the classroom. Other children may be prevented from engaging by distractions in their environment, and will need ‘reasonable adjustments’ (Equality Act 2010) made to this and to educators’ expectations to enable them to learn.
About the Engagement for Learning resources
The core ELF resources are the Engagement Profile and Scale, which together form an observation and assessment tool focusing on children’s engagement for learning. Its use is supported by the Engagement Ladder, which supports educators to identify children who would benefit from the Engagement for Learning Framework. Instructions about how to use all these can be found in the revised Engagement for Learning Framework Guide. The most up-to-date versions of these resources from the CLDD research team are free to download from the ‘Resources’ section of this site.
Other supporting tools which provide ideas for strategies and discussion starters are:
- CLDD Briefing Packs: a series of information sheets on conditions which commonly co-exist within the profile of CLDD; these give information on effective educational strategies associated with particular disabilities
- The Inquiry Framework for Learning: a framework of starter questions to stimulate practitioner discussion towards learning solutions in 12 areas including communication, emotional well-being, motor skills, etc.:
These are available from the 2010/2011 CLDD research project website at http://complexld.ssatrust.org.uk/project-resources.html.
Wolke, D. (2013) ‘The preterm phenotype: implications for learning’. Presentation to the National Forum for Neuroscience in Special Education Annual Conference, ‘The learning and neurodevelopmental needs of children born pre-term – a conference to bridge thinking and understanding between education and neuroscience across the school years’, Institute of Education, London (31 January).