Cognition & Learning (C&L) Service

The Cognition & Learning Service is part of the Specialist Education Service

It includes the Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) Service, formerly known as the Dyslexia Outreach Team.

What we do

The Cognition and Learning team support school practitioners who are including pupils with cognition and learning needs. Children and young people with Cognition and Learning difficulties may struggle to access or engage with learning. We work with school staff to help them better understand the needs of pupils with additional C&L needs and how they can be best supported.

The C&L needs of individual pupils may present in a variety of ways, including:

  • Difficulties with reading, writing, and recording their work
  • Difficulties with spelling and phonics
  • Difficulties with maths and counting
  • Lower than age expected ability in specific curriculum areas or Topic work
  • Moderate to significant learning difficulties
  • Diagnosed medical conditions which may affect abilities to learn
  • Difficulty with processing, memory, and recall.

The C&L team can offer:

  • Training for school staff in techniques and approaches to support learning
  • Support for differentiation of the curriculum to meet the pupil’s needs
  • Support for development of bespoke planning for those pupils whose needs are significantly different to their peers
  • Mentoring in the classroom to model and embed new approaches

We help schools, parents/carers and pupils (where appropriate) to develop support plans to help pupils work to the best of their ability and to make suitable steps of progress. As part of this, we complete observations, model strategies to school staff and offer advice and guidance. We may work directly with pupils as appropriate. We are a team of specialist teachers who support teachers in schools. We work closely with the other specialist education services, when required, as sometimes children and young people with cognition and learning needs also have needs in other areas such as communication and interaction, speech and language or social emotional and mental health. We also work closely with a wide range of other services such as Early Help, Education Welfare and Health.

How to access our service

We are a needs-led service, so a diagnosis is not needed for support. The Cognition and learning team includes the Specific Learning Difficulties team (SpLD), who support areas such as Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. 

If you are concerned If you are concerned about your child’s Cognition and Learning needs (including Specific Learning Difficulties), we would encourage you to talk to your school in the first instance to find out what support is already being offered. In all cases we would expect schools to talk with parents and carers first about their child’s additional needs and what can be done to support them before referring to us for additional support.

However, as soon as a child or young person is identified as having additional Cognition and Learning needs (including Specific Learning Difficulties), schools can seek advice and guidance at one of our weekly Inclusion Support Meetings. This does not require a referral to be completed but we would expect schools to have gained your permission before this discussion takes place.

If it is felt that greater support is required then, after seeking your agreement, your child’s school can make a full referral to us. Referrals are not accepted from parents or practitioners outside of schools. 

No formal diagnosis or Education, health and Care plan (EHCP) is needed to access the SES services, including the Cognition and Learning service. At all time, the educational setting needs the consent of the parent/ carer to make a referral. The educational setting should discuss the referral with parents/ carers so that aims and outcomes and shared.

Resources for professionals

Guidance for pre key stage standard English (Primary) Pre-Key Stage Literacy – Outreach (

Guidance for pre key stage standard English (Secondary) Secondary Literacy Guide – Outreach (

Transition Support Transition Support – Outreach (

C&L Assessment grid numeracy PKSS Standards 1-4

C&L Guidance for planning and teaching numeracy Standards 1-4

C&L Maths Learning Difficulties

Visual kinaesthetic maths resource

Contact details

Alice Mahoney, Head of Service, T:07871732073 E: [email protected]

Team mailbox: [email protected]