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Learning difficulties

At HSR Psychology our specialist psychologists carry out assessments to identify learning difficulties and learning needs. We can also implement and support learning interventions to address identified needs.

What are learning difficulties?

Learning difficulties impact a child or young person’s ability to learn, remember, problem solve and attend. Identification of a child's cognitive strengths and difficulties can help understand any barriers to learning and allow strategies to be implemented to support them in the classroom. Through identifying a child or young person’s potential, and comparing it against what stage the child or young person is currently learning at, we can help to narrow the gap to maximise potential. We assess learning difficulties from the age of 3 years and 6 months. If you would like a child younger than this age then please read about the services we offer for developmental delay.

Moderate learning difficulty (MLD)

Pupils with MLDs will have attainments significantly below expected levels in most areas of the curriculum despite appropriate interventions. Their needs will not be able to be met by normal differentiation and the flexibilities of the National Curriculum. They should only be recorded as MLD if additional educational provision is being made to help them to access the curriculum. Pupils with MLDs have much greater difficulty than their peers in acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills and in understanding concepts. They may also have an associated speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and under-developed social skills.

Severe learning difficulty (SLD)

Pupils with SLDs have significant intellectual or cognitive impairments. This has a major effect on their ability to participate in the school curriculum without support. They may also have difficulties in mobility and coordination, communication and perception and the acquisition of self-help skills. Pupils with SLDs will need support in all areas of the curriculum. They may also require teaching of self-help, independence and social skills. Some pupils may use sign and symbols but most will be able to hold simple conversations. Their attainments may be within the upper P scale range (P4-P8) for much of their school careers (that is below level 1 of the National Curriculum).

Department for Education, Glossary of special educational needs (SEN) terminology

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:

  • Has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
  • Has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions

SEND code of practice (2015)

There are a number of factors which may indicate that an individual would benefit from a learning difficulties assessment, including:

Learning difficulties can impact specific or multiple learning areas.

Our process

At HSR Psychology we ensure that we meet the needs of children and young people. To achieve this we ensure that any specific assessments, intervention, or direct work, is only carried out following an initial discussion.

An initial discussion allows us to understand the background and your expectations of our involvement. Having an initial discussion ensures any services we provide appropriately identify or address needs.

Our process for any specific assessments, intervention, or direct work is as follows:

Step 1: Contact us

We will usually be contacted by the child or young person, parent or carer, or another professional (eg education or health).

You can contact us or complete a referral

Step 2: Arrange an initial discussion

An initial discussion allows us to understand the background and your expectations of our involvement. Arrange an initial discussion

Step 3: Review our recommendations

Following an initial discussion we will send you an email that includes:

  • Next steps recommendations - to provide a bespoke package of support. For example:
    • Assessments
    • Reports
    • Information gathering
    • Meeting
    • Interventions
    • Consultancy
    • Reviews
  • Costing - we will provide costings for any services recommended.

Step 4: Let's get started

On receipt of the next steps recommendations and costing you can decide how to proceed. Once you have decided contact us to arrange the chosen services.

How is learning and cognition assessed?

Learning and cognition is assessed by our clinical, counselling and educational psychologists by carrying out a number of assessments, observations and discussions with key staff members, parents or carers.

Discussion with key adults

Our psychologists will speak with parents, carers or education staff to talk through concerns and work towards a shared understanding of the child or young person’s needs.


Exploring the medical and educational background of a child or young person includes access to previous professional reports and provides further information about the child or young person’s development. Knowing the occurrence, frequency and intensity of the difficulties builds our holistic understanding.

Cognitive assessment

A cognitive assessment provides a cognitive profile of strengths and difficulties. A cognitive assessment allows our psychologists to see whether a child or young person’s strengths and difficulties are general or connected to a specific learning area, such as literacy or numeracy. Any areas of need highlighted by the cognitive assessment can lead to the selection of appropriate educational assessments for further exploration. Only specific psychologists can carry out a full cognitive assessment, these include our clinical, counselling, educational and child psychologists.


Observing a child or young person allows the psychologist to assess external factors such as environment and interaction with other individuals.

Combining the information from the discussion, background, assessment and observation is part of our holistic approach.

Which assessments do we use for learning difficulties?

The specific assessments used will be chosen based on the child or young person. The main assessments we use are:

  • WAIS IV - Wechsler adult intelligence scale is a cognitive assessment and can measure; reasoning, information processing, retention and organisation of information, and verbal comprehension
  • WISC-V - Wechsler intelligence scale for children is another cognitive assessment which can also be used to provide a full profile of cognitive strengths and difficulties, including; verbal comprehension, fluid reasoning, processing speed, working memory, quantitative reasoning, auditory working memory, non-verbal, general ability and cognitive proficiency
  • BAS 3 - British ability scales assesses children’s intellectual functioning and measures; verbal and spatial ability, non-verbal reasoning, general conceptual ability
  • WIAT - Wechsler individual achievement test provides a total achievement score
  • Conners-3 - The Conners-3 measures a broad range of factors, including; executive functioning, learning problems, school work/grades

There are other assessments which may be used during an assessment for learning difficulties, including observations and discussions with the child, young person and the individuals who know them best.

What happens after an assessment?

After an assessment, the outcome will be explained in a report. If learning and cognition difficulties are identified, our specialist educational and child psychologists will make recommendations to support the child or young person with their learning.

Recommendations could include specific interventions or the application of strategies and techniques.

What interventions do we support?

We support many interventions for learning and cognition, and the intervention used will depend on the specific areas of need identified. Examples of interventions we can support include:

To find out more about learning and cognition interventions we can support please contact us.

Learning and cognition difficulties can impact many areas of an individual’s life and identification of needs can lead to effective support. To book an initial discussion for learning and cognition difficulties, or to find out more then please contact us now to speak to a member of our team.

Arrange an Initial Discussion

Arrange an Initial Discussion to find out how we can help. The initial discussion lasts 1-1.5 hours, comes with a written recommendation summary and is a starting point to identify needs. The cost is £300.

  • No waiting lists
  • Experienced psychologists
  • Includes recommendation summary

Find out more



What makes us different

Access to a named psychologist

Focus on mental health and wellbeing

Joined-up approach

Bespoke services to meet needs

Multidisciplinary team

Holistic approach

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Flexible, consistent, and competitively priced

We provide bespoke solutions to suit all budgets and requirements for children and young people aged 0-25 in homes, education settings and the community. Our clinical, educational and child psychology services are cost effective.

See our prices

Make a referral

To make a referral and arrange an initial discussion please complete our referral form.

Make a referral

Contact us

Ready to get started? The next step is to speak to our team to find out more about the services we provide and how we can help. Call us on 0161 820 9229 or email

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