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Ability Test
Ability Test refers to a test designed to measure either aptitude or achievement. To separate aptitude from achievement, however, is often easier said than done. While aptitudes are defined as inherent abilities for learning and raw talents, they are sometimes measured through a person's achievements because the tests are designed incorrectly. The many types of ability tests include verbal, numeric, literacy and abstract reasoning tests.

Achievement Test
Achievement Test refers to an objective examination that measures educationally relevant skills or knowledge about such subjects as reading, spelling, or mathematics.

See Attention Deficit Disorder

See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Age Norms
Age Norms refers to values representing typical or average performance of people of any age groups.

Annual review
A meeting held once a year of parents and professionals at school to evaluate a child's progress and make sure the child is still making progress. A Statement of Educational Needs specifies that there must be an annual review to ensure what is contained in the Statement still meets the child's needs.

Usually an additional section to a report/document that contains more information about what is contained in the report/document. The report should be understandable without reference to the Appendix

A form for parents/carers to record their thoughts, comments and expectations on their child's needs.

Also known as Asperger's Disorder or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It is classified as is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) characterized by severe and sustained impairment in social interaction, development of restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, and activities.

Assessment refers to the process of obtaining information that is used to gather information about individuals, to give feedback about their progress/strengths/weaknesses, and to judge performance (work or scholastic) instructional effectiveness/curricular adequacy etc.

An examination to find out an individual's abilities, difficulties and needs for the purpose of informing a diagnosis.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
A disorder characterised by difficulties maintaining attention because of a limited ability to concentrate. ADD is a limited capacity to focus and attend and impulsive actions, but may not show high levels of activity or over-activity.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A disorder characterized by difficulties maintaining attention because of a limited ability to concentrate; including impulsive actions and hyperactive behaviour. Some times this is written as AD(H)D as the signs and symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are the same though in the latter there is evidence of high levels of activity or over-activity.

Attention Span
The length of time an individual can concentrate on a task without being distracted or losing interest. (See also Distractibility).

Auditory Discrimination
The ability to accurately discriminate sounds. This requires processes within the brain, beyond the effectiveness of the ear to hear.

Auditory Memory
Ability to retain information which has been presented orally; may be short term memory, such as recalling information presented several seconds before; long term memory, such as recalling information presented more than a minute before; or sequential memory, such as recalling a series of information in proper order.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
A range of diagnoses that involve severe and sustained impairment in social interaction, development of restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, and activities. Asperger's is one such diagnosis as is Autism.

A category of ASD that significantly affects social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and educational performance.

A process of development and learning to the point at which thoroughly learned tasks can be performed with little mental effort (e.g. walking up/down stairs).



Behavioural Difficulties/Problems
A pattern of unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour, usually occurring in particular situations, which disrupts the activities of others be it at work, in school or at home

A skill in reading involving saying two separate sounds 'i' and 't' and being able to put them together to produce 'it'.

Persistent unwanted (may but need not be aggressive) behaviour directed towards a particular individual who is made to feel uncomfortable, distressed, stressed or hurt by such behaviour. This is sometimes referred to as Harassment.



Case Conference
A formal meeting of professionals and parents/carers to discuss a particular child/individual.

Ceiling refers to the upper limit of ability that can be measured by a particular test.

Cerebral palsy
Disorder in ability to control movements caused by damage to the motor area of the brain.

The process in reading of combining two sounds 'tr' and then to add this to another chunk 'ip', to make 'trip'.

Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs
A guide for schools and LEAs on the practical help they should offer children with SEN. The code must be considered when making any decisions about a child's education.

Cognitive Ability
Intellectual ability; thinking and reasoning skills.

Conduct Disorder
Socio-emotional and behavioural disorders indicated in individuals who, for example, are chronically disobedient or disruptive. This is a clinically applied diagnostic category found in DSMVII. It can also be described within the category EBD - Educational Behaviourally Disordered or Emotional and Behavioural Disorder



The process of getting meaning from written or spoken symbols. (See Receptive Language).

Developmental Delay
When a child fails to reach certain milestones at the expected time, such as sitting, walking, talking.

Developmental Curriculum
A programme for children who need to learn everyday (Life Skills) skills, self-care, dressing, etc, and who may spend most of their education working towards the first level of the core school subjects in the national curriculum.

Differentiated Curriculum
A curriculum that is specially adapted to meet the special educational needs of individual children.

The frequent, uncontrolled or non volitional shifting of attention from the task at hand to sounds, sights, and other stimuli that normally occur in the environment.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Volume VII (DSMVII) the agreed criteria for the diagnosis of a full range of …..

Disability or Disorder
Recognised and diagnosed limitations or altered abilities in the domain of human activity be it movement, hearing, sight, thinking, speaking, feeling/emotion, behaviour and so on.

Difficulty in understanding or using mathematical symbols or functions. An individual with dyscalculia m ay be able to read and write but have difficulty in performing mathematical calculations.

Any disturbance or impairment in the normal functioning of an organ, body part, social, emotional or mental process

Impairment of the ability to deal with language (speaking, reading, spelling, writing). A dyslexic may see letters, syllables, or words reversed, blurred, or otherwise distorted. Their actually ability to see words may be intact but their ability to hear the sounds in words is less effective, or their difficulties may make their reading or writing very slow.

Difficulty in performing fine and/or gross motor acts such as drawing, buttoning, balancing etc. A person with Dyspraxia has difficulty producing and sequencing the movements necessary to perform these kinds of tasks.



Early Intervention Program
A programme specially designed to assist developmentally delayed infants and preschool children. The purpose of this type of programme is to help prevent problems as the child matures.

EBD School
Is a school hat specializes in providing for children with- Educational Behavioural Difficulties (caused by many different factors), and who do not cope, or cannot be managed, in a mainstream school among pupils who do not have such difficulties.

Education Social Worker (ESW)
An Education Social Worker (ESWs) work with schools and families to promote good school attendance. ESWs also work with individual children who have behavioural difficulties.

Education, Health, Care Plan (EHCP) since September 2014 this is the term used to describe what used to be a Statement of Special Educational Need (often referred to as a Statement), which is a legal document setting out a child's special educational needs and the provision to meet those needs following statutory assessment.  You can find out more about this under parents and tribunals on this website

Educational Psychologist (EP) A Psychologist who works predominantly with those in education and may be referred to as a school psychologist.

Educational Psychology
The application of psychology to education, especially to problems of teaching and learning.

Educational Psychology Service
The educational psychology service has psychologists who visit schools regularly and contribute to the statutory assessment of pupils.
They provide psychological advice in the form of a report based on observations and tests. Educational psychologists are trained and in the past had to have worked as teachers. This requirement is no longer so.  They should not be confused with psychiatrists who are doctors concerned with mental illness.

Eye-Hand Coordination
The ability of the eyes and hands to work together to complete a task. Examples are drawing and writing.



Fine Motor
The use of small muscles for precision tasks such as writing, tying bows, zipping a zipper, typing, doing puzzles.



General Learning Disability
Refers to a broad range of learning difficulties that affect many aspects of learning and may result in a Slow Learner Profile or Global Developmental Delay

This refers to individuals whose performance on standardized measures of intellectual ability score above the 98th percentile which means they are more able than 98 of 100 people of the same age and sex.

Global Developmental Delay
Where an individual's learning difficulties are such that they develop overall more slowly and may never reach some higher levels of understanding.

Gross Motor
The use of large muscles for activities requiring strength and balance. Examples are walking, running, and jumping.



Persistent unwanted (may but need not be aggressive) behaviour directed towards a particular individual who is made to feel uncomfortable, distressed, stressed or hurt by such behaviour. This can be referred to as Bullying.

Hearing Impairment
Refers to some difficulty or limitation in the mechanics of the hearing process.

Condition characterized by extreme restlessness, fidgetiness, poor impulse control resulting in short attention spans relative to peers, over activity and risk taking behaviour without seeing the consequences

Under-activity; child may appear to be in a daze, lacking energy and appear tired and unwilling to make an effort.



IEP Committee
Writes the Individualized Education Program for the youngster who has been identified by the Eligibility Committee as having a disability or disorder. Members are a school division employee, other than the student's teacher, who is qualified to provide or supervise special education; the student's teacher(s); the parent or guardian the student, if appropriate; other individuals whom the parents or the school division select.

Reacting to a situation without considering the consequences.

Inclusive education means that mainstream schools should be structured and resourced to enable them to welcome and accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other abilities and needs.

Independent Parental Support (IPS)
A person identified by the LEA or parents to provide confidential, independent support and information to parents during the statutory assessment process.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)
A learning programme for an individual child with learning difficulties, which includes what the child needs to learn and how that will be taught.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
A written educational prescription developed for each child diagnosed with a learning difficulty (including learning disabled). Sometimes called an Individualized Education Program. Schools are required by law to develop these plans, in cooperation with parents. An IEP must contain:

  • the child's present levels of educational performance,
  • annual and short-term educational goals,
  • the specific special education program,
  • and related services that will be provided to the child,
  • the extent to which the child will participate in regular education program with mainstream children,
  • a statement of when services will begin and how long they will last
  • provisions for evaluating the effectiveness of the program and the student's performance. This evaluation must occur at least once a year statement of transition services for students 14 years of age or older.

Individualised Education Program (IEP)
Program tailored to the needs of an exceptional child.

This is the process of educating children, with or without disabilities or difficulties, together in mainstream education.

Intelligence quotient (IQ)
The Intelligence quotient (IQ) refers to an individual's measured ability (using a range of mental or intellectual processes) quantified through completing a range of standardized tests. It is best understood as a range of performance in which the individual is likely to perform rather than as a single score.

In reading, spelling, or math, confusion of updown directionality of letters or numbers, e.g., m for w, 6 for 9, etc.




Pertaining to the muscles.



Learned helplessness
One of the main theories developed to explain the experience of depression, derived from experiments in which animals, subjected to inescapable aversive stimulation, became very passive in their responding.

Learning Difficulties/Disability/Disabilities (LD)
Disorders of the basic psychological processes that affect the way an individual learns. Many individuals with learning difficulties/disabilities have average or above average intelligence. Learning difficulties may cause problems in listening, thinking, reasoning, comprehending, talking, reading, writing, spelling, or arithmetic. Included are for example perceptual difficulties, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Learning difficulties caused by visual, hearing, motor, brain damage, emotional disturbances, or environmental disadvantage may be classified in other ways, but will be handled as learning difficulties.

Learning Support Assistant (LSA)
Work under the direction of teachers and are appointed to provide additional help in the classroom for a child or a group of children (with or without) identified special educational needs. Also known as Teaching Assistant (TA)

Long-term memory
Components of memory where large amounts of information can be stored for long periods of time.

Life Skills
A set of core skills required if an individual is to have the opportunity for some degree of independence as an adult.



Mainstream School
A school that seeks to integrate all levels of ability and teach a core curriculum to all pupils.

Maintained schools
Primary, secondary and special schools which are funded by the LEA. Schools receiving their funding from the private sector are referred to as Private or Public schools.

Moderate Learning Difficulties MLD
Moderate learning difficulty means a number of processes related to thinking, learning and behaving are harder for an individual and as a consequence this limits the amount of information or situations they can manage, process and learn from at any one time.



Named officer
An officer of the LEA who can give you information and help about your child's education.

Non-maintained special school
A non-profit making special school which charges fees. Most non-maintained special schools are run by charities or charitable trusts.

Nonverbal cues
Eye contact, gestures, physical proximity, or touching used to communicate without interrupting verbal discourse.

Nonverbal learning disabilities NVLD
Nonverbal learning disabilities are less well known than language-based learning disabilities such as Dyslexia. Typically, people with nonverbal LD show: excellent memory for things they hear; poor memory for things they see; good reading ability; very poor arithmetic ability; excellent verbal expression and verbal reasoning; problems with written expression (often because of poor handwriting); problems with sense of direction, estimation of size, shape, distance; problems reading facial expressions, gestures, social cues, tones of voice.

Statistics that provide a frame of reference by which meaning may be given to test scores. Norms are based upon the actual performance of individuals of various grades or ages in the standardization group for the test. Since they represent average or typical performance, they should not be regarded as standards or universally desirable levels of attainment. The most common types of norms are standard scores such as stanines, IQ, percentile rank, grade or age equivalents.

Note in lieu (of statement)
A document produced by the LEA that sets out the reasons why a statement should not be made and the special provision to be made by the school.



Occupational therapist (OT)
Provide programmes to develop the management of everyday tasks. They can also advise about aids and adaptations. (Occupational therapists usually work for the local health authority).



Doctors who specialize in children's needs and can refer a child to other health specialists, if necessary.

Panic Attacks
Involves repeated, unpredictable attacks of intense fear accompanied by severe anxiety symptoms in the body that may last from minutes to hours.

Percentile score
Derived score that designates what percent of the norming group earned raw scores lower than a particular score. A percentage score indicates where an individual's score sits in a group of 100 individuals of the same sex and age. E.g. at the 50th percentile a score is equal to, or better than, 50 of those 100 individuals.

Performance Test
Refers to a test designed to evaluate general intelligence or aptitudes. Consists primarily of motor items or perceptual items because verbal abilities play a minimal role. Some times these are referred to as Visual-Performance tests

The repeating of words, motions, or tasks. A child who perseverates often has difficulty shifting to a new task and continues working on a task after they should have stopped. (When required to copy five dots, will continue to produce many more dots)

Partial Hearing
An individual with partial hearing may not be able to hear or process the full range of sounds audible to the average human ear. They have nevertheless some hearing though it may not be of good quality.

Partial Sighted
An individual with partial sight may not be able to see or process the full range of visual information to the average human eye. They have nevertheless some sight though it may not be of good quality.

Phonic Approach
Method for teaching reading and spelling in which emphasis is placed on learning the sounds which individual and various combinations of letters make in a word. In decoding a word, the child sounds out individual letters or letter combinations and then blends them to form a word.

Trained to assess movement and physical development such as balance, co-ordination, ability to sit, stand and walk. They advise on how to help a child develop movement.

A school, unit or other facility, which the LEA thinks best meets the specific needs of a child.

Profound and multiple learning difficulties.

Private or Public School
Funds for these schools are derived from private sources - grants, school fees, legacies, commercial enterprises etc. Many have charity status but nevertheless require school fees are paid. Some have bursaries for lower income families and many are selective in that they require prospective pupils sit and pass an entrance exam.

Professionals Connexions service
This service provides pupils and young people with special educational needs, aged 13-19, with a personal advisor.
The advisor will assist the young person and their parent/carer in identifying the most appropriate post-16 provision and provide counselling and ongoing support. A service representative must be invited to the year 9 annual review meeting.

An individual who treats behavioural or emotional problems. Is a licensed medical doctor (M.D.), so is permitted to use medications in treating a problem.

Psychological Examination
An evaluation by a certified school or clinical psychologist of the intellectual and behavioural characteristics of a person.

Is generally defined as the science of behaviour and mental processes and the application of the resulting findings to the solution of problems. The word thus simultaneously refers to a science (involving the study of the behaviour of humans and animals) and to various interventions (treatments and therapies) in the mental processes and behavioural patterns of people

Pertaining to the motor effects of psychological processes. Psychomotor tests are tests of motor skill which depend upon sensory or perceptual motor coordination e.g. how fast you can make a puzzle.




Raw Score
Raw Score refers to the number of items that are answered correctly out of the total possible.

Reasoning Ability
Specific meaning of this term varies, depending upon the manner in which a given test measures this ability; generally refers to verbal or nonverbal, deductive, inductive, analytical thinking.

Receptive Language (Decoding)
Language that is spoken or written by others and received by the individual. The receptive language skills are listening and reading.

Difficulty in reading or reproducing letters alone, letters in words, or words in sentences in their proper position in space or in proper order. May also refer to reversal of mathematical concepts (add/subtract. multiply/divide) and symbols (>; x+). See also Transposition.

Trade name for one of several stimulant drugs often given to modify hyperactivity in children who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. There are a number of other names for the same drug: Concerta is one.



Variability in an individual's test scores. This is a technical term for the range of scores. If there is a big range it is referred to as a lot of scatter.

School Medical Officer
A doctor who ensures that a child's health is not stopping them from learning. They may do regular check-ups.

School Psychologist
A person who specializes in problems manifested in and associated with educational systems and who uses psychological concepts and methods in programs which attempt to improve learning conditions for students.

In psychology, self-esteem or self-worth is a person's self-image at an emotional level; circumventing reason and logic. Self esteem refers to the way you feel about yourself, whether you feel valued, appreciated and able. (The term differs from ego in that the ego is a more artificial aspect; one can remain highly egotistical, while underneath have very low self-esteem.)

Sensory Acuity
The ability to respond to sensation (light, sound, touch etc) at normal levels of intensity.

The detail of information in its accustomed order (for example, days of the week, the alphabet, etc.). Children with Sequencing Difficulties know the names of the days of the week but find it difficult to put them in the right order. Adults may find that they can't spell well though know what letters belong in a particular word.

Severe Learning Difficulties
Severe learning difficulty means a significant number of processes related to thinking, learning and behaving are harder for an individual and as a consequence this limits the amount of information or situations they can manage, process and learn from at any one time.

Short-Term Memory
Component of memory where limited amounts of information can be stored for a few seconds. The average person is able to hold 7 plus or minus 2 numbers (e.g. a telephone number)

Short-Term Working Memory
Component of memory where limited amounts of information can be stored for a few seconds while they are worked on. The average person is able to hold 7 plus or minus 2 numbers (e.g. a telephone number) and can say them backwards!

Sight Word Approach
Also known as whole word approach; method for teaching reading which relies heavily upon a child's visual memory skills, with minimal emphasis on sounding out a word (phonics); child memorizes the word based on its overall configuration.

Sight Words
Words a child can recognize on sight without aid of phonics or other word-attack skills.

Slow Learner Profile
A child who has either Moderate or Severe learning difficulties that mean they progress through their learning at a slower rate and may find higher levels of learning more difficult.

Specific Language Disability
When some aspect of listening or speaking is affected in some way to prevent an individual from communicating (expressing themselves verbally) or understanding spoken communication fully.

Specific Learning Difficulty/Disability SpLD or SLD
Specific learning disability. Difficulty in specific areas of learning is contrasted with a General Learning Disability, i.e., difficulty in all areas of learning. Specific Learning difficulty is another name for Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Non verbal Learning Difficulties and Dyscalculia and so on. SLD is also sometimes interpreted as Specific Language Disability.

Social Skills Therapist
A therapist specializing in helping an individual develop their social skills. They may be a specialist social worker, nurse, counsellor or otherwise trained professional.

Sound Blending
The ability to combine smoothly all the sounds or parts of a word into the whole.

Spatial Orientation
Awareness of space and objects around the person in terms of distance, form, direction, and position.

Spatial Relationships
The ability to perceive the relationships between self and two or more objects and the relationships of the objects to each other.

Special educational needs service for schools (SENSS)
A team of LEA advisers and specialist teachers who advise schools about teaching children with special educational needs.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)
A child has special educational needs if he/she has a learning difficulty that requires special educational provision to be made.

Special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)
All schools and nurseries appoint a SENCO to ensure that children with special educational needs receive the support they need.

Special Needs School
A school that specializes in provisioning education for children with a range of difficulties that cannot or may not best be met in a mainstream setting.

Speech therapist
Helps children who have difficulty talking or communicating. They work in schools, health centres and other community centres.

Specific learning difficulties, e.g. dyslexia.

Standard Score
Standard Score refers to a score that permits comparison of one score against a population mean.

Standardized Test
Standardized Test refers to a form of measurement that has been normed against a specific population. Standardization is obtained by administering the test to a given population and then calculating means, standard deviations, standardized scores, and percentiles. Equivalent scores are then produced for comparisons of an individual score to the norm group's performance.

A Stanine refers to one of the steps in a nine-point scale of standard scores.

Statement of special educational needs
Legal document setting out a child's special educational needs and the provision to meet those needs following statutory assessment.

Statutory assessment
A detailed examination to determine your child's special educational needs and calculate the special help needed. This may or may not lead to a statement of special education needs.

Structural Analysis
Using syllabication, prefix, suffix, and root word clues, etc. to read or spell a word.

Consistent use of rules, limits, and routines. The use of structure reassures a child with learning disabilities that the environment is somewhat predictable and stable.

In reading, spelling, or math, interchanging a given letter, number, or word for another, e.g., sereal for cereal, 9 or 6.

A set of symptoms (behaviours, features, learning difficulties) that indicates a specific disorder.



Teaching Assistant (TA)
An adult who may or may not have specific qualifications who is engaged in supporting children in their daily activities in school. They can also be referred to as Learning Assistants (LA) or Learning Support Assistants (LSA). Children needing support are often offered LSA - Learning Support Assistance.

Transition plan
A document drawn up at the annual review from national curriculum year 9 onwards, to help plan for a pupil's ongoing education after they leave school.




Verbal Ability
Specific meaning of this term varies, depending upon the manner in which a given test measures this ability. Generally refers to oral or spoken language abilities and the underlying verbal knowledge and comprehension that support verbal expression.

Visual-Performance tests
Refers to a test designed to evaluate general intelligence or aptitudes. Consists primarily of motor items or perceptual items because verbal abilities play a minimal role. Some times these are referred to as Performance Tests

Visual Discrimination
Ability to detect similarities and/or differences in materials which are presented visually, e.g., ability to discriminate h from n, o from c, b from d, etc.



Word Attack Skills
Ability to analyze unfamiliar words visually and phonetically, the break them down in such a manner that

Word Recognition
Ability to read or pronounce a word; usually implies that the word is recognized immediately by sight and that the child does not need to apply word analysis skills. Does not imply understanding of the word.

Working memory
Another term for short-term working memory.

Written Language
Encompasses all facets of written expression, e.g., handwriting, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, format, ability to express one's thoughts in sentences and paragraphs, etc.







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