1st Edition

Engaging Learners with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities A resource book for teachers and teaching assistants

    216 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    216 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Children and young people with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (CLDD) have co-existing and overlapping conditions which can manifest in complex learning patterns, extreme behaviours and a range of socio-medical needs which are new and unfamiliar to many educators. Their combination of issues and layered needs – mental health, relationship, behavioural, physical, medical, sensory, communication and cognitive – mean they often disengage from learning and challenge even our most experienced teachers.

    This book provides school practitioners and leaders with an approach and resources to engage this often disenfranchized group of children in learning. The Engagement for Learning Framework has been developed and trialled by over 100 educational settings (both special and mainstream) with learners from early years to post-16. It gives practitioners from a range of disciplines a shared means of assessing, recording and developing personalized learning pathways and demonstrating progression for these children. The focus on inquiry means that however complex a young person’s needs, educators will be able to apply the approach.

    This practical and engaging book provides literature, tools and case study examples outlining who children and young people with CLDD are, why their engagement for learning is important and how the Engagement for Learning Framework can be used effectively by teachers and other professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for these children.

    1 The Engagement for Learning Framework: an introduction

    2 New generation children: the complex learning challenge

    3 Engagement and learning: a brief introduction

    4 Evidencing engagement for learning: the Engagement Profile and Scale

    5 Personalizing engagement: case studies

    6 Learning with families

    7 Together everyone can achieve more: collaborating with other professionals

    8 Mental health and children with complex learning difficulties and disabilities: a ticking time bomb

    9 Inquiry gives you wings: school-based inquiry and engaging children with complex learning difficulties and disabilities

    10 Visioning the future: schools taking forward the Engagement for Learning Framework

    APPENDIX A Instructions on completing the Engagement Ladders

    APPENDIX B Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Briefing Packs

    APPENDIX C The Inquiry Framework for Learning

    APPENDIX D Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Project questionnaires

    APPENDIX E Accessible Research Cycle template

    APPENDIX F Project information and consent form relating to the Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Project

    APPENDIX G Engagement passport example from Parkside School, Pukekohe, New Zealand

    APPENDIX H Parkside School’s ‘Engagement Profile and Scale Final Report’ template

    APPENDIX I Schools involved in the original Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project (2009–2011)


    Barry Carpenter, OBE, is Honorary Professor at the Universities of Worcester (UK), Limerick (Ireland), Hamburg (Germany) and Flinders (Australia).

    Jo Egerton is a Schools Research Consultant and educational writer.

    Beverley Cockbill is Training Co-ordinator and TEACCH Practitioner in complex learning needs for Chadsgrove Teaching School, Bromsgrove.

    Tamara Bloom is a Chartered Educational Psychologist working in both local authority and charity sectors.

    Jodie Fotheringham is a Lead Teacher at Tor View Community Special School in Lancashire.

    Hollie Rawson is an Occupational Therapist, currently working in mental health rehabilitation.

    Jane Thistlethwaite is a Complex Needs Consultant, specializing in autism and sensory/vision impairment, and Director of Positive Path International in New Zealand.

    'The book is arranged to present the urgency of the issues facing educators, which Professor Carpenter describes as the ‘new generation’ of children for whom teachers are ‘pedagogically bereft’, while also providing practical resources to access the framework. The brave world of the special school educator, the children and the families is exposed to us, and helps to drive this urgency. While it is disconcerting to read chapters written in first-person singular without having the chapter author identified, and the extensive use of exclamation marks, when one reflects on the truly surprising results these educators are seeing in their students these things can be excused. The book concludes that, “engagement can be described as the liberation of intrinsic motivation” (p.160), and it could be said that this is an approach that all teachers and leaders could be taking in our daily work.'  - Julliette Hayes, NZEALS Leading lights

    "The impressive qualifications of the authors makes this an authoratitive book that will be highly valued by all involved in the teaching of CLDD young people" - Sarah Brew, Parents in Touch

    "This book provides a definitive explanation of 'Engagement for Learning' for children 'who do not fit neatly into an understandable category.' These learners are described as a new generation of children with complex learning needs, requiring innovative approaches and a personalised curriculum. There are many useful examples and top tips from classroom practitioners throughout and all resources are freely available to use and clearly referenced. [...] I found the style of writing engaging, with the content encouraging and motivating. I believe I will keep coming back to [this book] to reinforce my classroom practice for a long time to come" - Anne-Frances Royle, Special World

    "In the light of Government reforms in the assessment of children with SEND this is extremely timely. The book is profoundly significant in that it does what teaching was meant for and that is to place the child at the heart of learning." -  Diane Rochford, Executive Headteacher, John F Kennedy Academy and Chair of the Rochford Review