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River Primary School

River Primary School

Cognition and Learning

Some children find learning or retaining basic skills more difficult than their peers and this can be for different reasons. We aim to make a clear distinction between special educational needs and underachievement, which is often caused by a poor early experience or gaps in learning. Some pupils in our school may be underachieving but will not necessarily have a special educational need. It is the responsibility of staff to identify this quickly and ensure that appropriate interventions are put in place to help these pupils catch up.


If children experience long term difficulties with their learning and need additional support which is different to that of their peers in order to make progress, then they may be identified as having a specific difficulty with reading, writing, mathematics or understanding information. Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, DCD (Developmental Coordination Disorder) and Dyscalculia are all types of cognition and learning difficulties or specific learning difficulties. 


Some children may experience the following difficulties:

  • Particular difficulty with reading and/or spelling. 
  • Problems processing information at speed.
  • Problems remembering information or instructions.
  • Weaker concentration in subjects they find harder but surprises you because in other ways he/she is bright and alert.
  • Leaves letters out of words or puts them in the wrong order. 
  • Still needs to use fingers to count or workings out to make simple calculations. 
  • Has difficulty remembering times tables, the alphabet, written methods in Maths etc.
  • Has problems understanding what he/she has read because they have focused so hard on the actual reading. 
  • Takes longer than their peers to do written work. 
  • Putting letters and figures the wrong way round. 
  • Still occasionally confuses 'b' and 'd' and words such as 'no/on'. 
  • May have difficulty with tying shoelaces, ties, or organising clothes when dressing. 
  • May have a poor sense of direction and may still confuses left and right. 
  • May lack confidence and has a poor self image as a learner. 



Dyslexia means "long term difficulties with word level (reading, writing and spelling) literacy skills". Children with Dyslexia can find it very difficult to read, write and spell accurately and fluently at the level expected for their age. It also affects the way information is processed, stored and retrieved. People may have difficulties with memory, speed of processing, time perception, organisation and sequencing. 


The Kent Policy for Dyslexia states that school staff should have the skills necessary to identify and support any child who has long term difficulties with word level literacy skills. Teachers can identify children who have persistent difficulties with reading and spelling. This does not have to be carried out by external specialists. This can be done by using simple assessments of phonological processing skills and standardised reading and spelling tests to measure rates of progress. Staff receive training each year to ensure they are able to identify and support children with Cognition and Learning difficulties in the classroom.


At River we use standardised tests and assessments of phonological processing skills alongside screening tools such as the GL assessment Dyslexia Screener or the Dyslexia Portfolio. These provide further information for parents and school staff about a child's word level skills. We do not undertake Dyslexia screening until children are in Key Stage 2, from Year 3 upwards, as many of the difficulties associated with Dyslexia are developmental and it is our view that children should have had full access to the Key Stage 1 curriculum first, to ensure key building blocks have been taught.


If you have concerns about any aspect of your child's learning, please speak to your child's class teacher or our SEN Team. 

Dyspraxia/ Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a motor skills disorder. DCD occurs when a delay in the development of motor skills, or difficulty coordinating movements, results in a child being unable to perform common, everyday tasks. 


Frequently described as "clumsy" or "awkward", children with DCD may have difficulty mastering simple motor activities, such as tying shoes or going down stairs, and are unable to perform age-appropriate academic and self-care tasks. Some children may experience difficulties in a variety of areas while others may have problems only with specific activities. The motor coordination difficulties children with DCD experience may impact their academic progress, social integration and emotional development.


If you have concerns that your child may have difficulties in this area, please speak to school staff for further advice. Once we have undertaken additional interventions in school or tried different strategies to support the development of your child's skills, we would normally make a referral to Occupational Therapy for further assessment of your child's skills, with your consent. If the Occupational Therapy team feel that a diagnosis of DCD is appropriate for your child, they will refer your child to the Community Paediatrician for diagnosis.



Whilst some children find it hard to develop their mathematical skills and understanding in day to day learning, it is thought that about 5% of school age children may have a specific learning difficulty known as Dyscalculia which may be impacting on their ability to develop and build upon their Maths learning. Dyscalculia is a condition which affects the ability to acquire arithmetic skills. Children with Dyscalculia may have difficulty learning to count and remembering which number follows another, especially numbers between 10 and 20. They may not see patterns in numbers, such as 2 and 2 within 4, or understand the relationship between numbers, e.g. that 6 is more than 5.  They may not understand the place value system where the value of the digit depends on where it is placed in a number e.g. understanding that the 6 in 564 represents 6 tens. Children with Dyscalculia may have difficulty understanding the concepts of the 4 operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. 


If you have concerns about the development of your child's mathematical skills and knowledge, please speak to your child's class teacher or the SEN team. We may be able to support your child with additional intervention and support in this key area and can seek further advice from the Specialist Teaching and Learning Service, with your consent.