Level G descriptor

Description of needs: Learning difficulties and additional and associated needs that impact significantly on learning and development – possible pathways to accreditation and work.

Cognition and learning

  • Children and young people will have a range of needs which will include a learning difficulty, plus additional needs that impacts significantly on their learning and development and ability to access the curriculum. They may have a specific diagnosis or syndrome. Examples of additional needs might be:
    • a diagnosis of Autism
    • a social communication difficulty
    • significant speech and language needs
    • sensory processing difficulties
    • medical and / or physical needs
    • hearing and / or visual needs
    • behaviours that can challenge that are mainly because of difficulties arising from any of the above, or from adverse childhood experiences / trauma.
    • will have attainment significantly below expected levels in most areas of the curriculum, despite appropriate support.
  • Will be learning at levels like expected learning levels of 4 – 6 years at secondary age and may have a reading age of up to 6 years. Where there has been recent standardised testing of cognitive ability children and young people will be assessed as significantly below average / at or just above 1st percentile.
  • Some may be able to achieve at higher levels in specific areas of particular interest.
  • At secondary, will be working towards entry levels / functional skills.
  • Some may be able to achieve at Entry 3 or Level 1 in a very supportive / smaller environment.
  • will be able to maintain attention on suitable differentiated activities for at least 10 minutes in a supportive environment.
  • will make progress in small steps.
  • will have significantly greater difficulty than their mainstream peers in acquiring basic literacy, numeracy, and social skills.
  • will have difficulty in understanding complex concepts, and processing information. This may lead to anxiety and impact on their confidence to engage in learning and class discussions.
  • may be able to demonstrate competency in basic, recently practised tasks in a familiar environment. This is only maintained for short periods of time if revisited frequently after learning.
  • will have difficulties with generalising learning and applying it in different settings.
  • may have a spiky profile, with higher achievement in some areas of the curriculum.
  • likely to be able to independently manage their personal care routines (dressing / undressing, toilet, eating and drinking)
  • will be able to engage in vocational activities in secondary years with possible pathways to accreditation and employment.

Communication and interaction

  • are likely to be able to engage in simple verbal interactions.
  • may be able to engage in more complex conversations.
  • will have speech, language and communication skills that are significantly below those of mainstream peers, affecting their ability to both express themselves clearly or understand complex language. This may lead to frustration and / or lack of to access learning to the level of their ability.
  • will have difficulties with regulating their emotions, behaviours, and responses to social situations. This may also be further impacted by puberty and their understanding the impact of this.
  • will have significant difficulties in identifying and applying strategies to avoid dangers, manage risks and keep safe, making them more likely to seek to engage in risky activities.
  • are often influenced by external factors, including current fads on the internet and through social media which can make them vulnerable to external influences.
  • are vulnerable to grooming and other types of sexual exploitation.

Sensory, physical, and medical needs

  • may have fine and / or gross motor difficulties.
  • may have difficulties with coordination.
  • may have a visual and / or hearing difficulty.
  • may have additional medical needs that require some medical intervention / support.
  • may require input from a range of agencies, including specific therapists. This will have been identified in their EHCP

Level descriptor G support needed

Curriculum, teaching, and learning

  • The core curriculum is a key skills approach to teaching the curriculum, emphasising literacy, numeracy and learning and social skills.
  • An individualised approach to help them to access the curriculum.
  • Children and young people will need tasks to be broken down into concrete steps, potentially with visual prompts, and regularly revisited
  • Children and young people will need to be given time to respond to verbal instruction and learning activities.
  • Concepts and abstract ideas will need to be taught repeatedly and rehearsed in other contexts. This will help children and young people to generalise skills across several different social contexts
  • There will be a strong emphasis on pastoral support and the development of independence and life skills throughout their schooling, including functional skills and travel training, with increasing emphasis as they prepare for their adult lives.
  • Practice explaining to others what strategies and support they need, e.g. asking for help reading a menu / bus timetable
  • Support in understanding why personal care and hygiene is important and how to manage this independently.
  • Will continue to need support to navigate the challenging social interactions that they will continue to meet.
  • Support in understanding their learning needs and difficulties, and in developing strategies to mitigate where possible
  • May need support to navigate social situations when not in a structured supervised environment, i.e. with peers outside of school
  • Likely to be in class groups of 12 – 14 with 1 additional adult to support for most lessons (this will be dependent on the size of classrooms available).
  • Access to small group learning in some areas of the curriculum to acquire basic learning and social skills.
  • Additional support/differentiation to access the broader curriculum, including community resources.
  • Enhanced staffing levels may need to be provided for out of school activities and high-risk practical lessons.
  • Support in understanding how to advocate for their own choices, even when that might differ from other adults in their lives.
  • Some children and young people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) will require more structure in line with recognised ASC approaches.
  • Some children and young people will require assisted technology to support their communication and access to the curriculum, and associated software.
  • Older children and young people will need access to FE College Link courses and work experience, with some needing more support.
  • Guidance in setting realistic expectations of career pathways.


  • Access to general and subject specific learning environments that consider the size of room, acoustics, and lighting.
  • Easy and regular access to a local community that facilitates the development of a range of functional skills in a real-life settings in preparation for getting older and adult life.
  • Children and young people with physical needs or visual / hearing needs will need accessible buildings, accommodation, and resources.

Behaviour support

  • Support in using strategies to manage their emotions.
  • Implementation of the Ealing Therapeutic Thinking Schools approach.
  • Regular support and guidance on keeping themselves safe
  • Guidance and support on staying safe on line and not engaging in risky behaviours. For instance, sharing content of a sexual nature, bullying on social media. Children and young people will require opportunities for overlearning.
  • Extra support and guidance in applying PSHE/RSE lessons learned in the classroom to real world applications to minimise their vulnerability to being taken advantage of (for example, county lines, criminal activities, victim of scams etc).
  • Multi agency and family support
  • Varying levels of inter-agency co- operation and planning, which may include health teams, sensory needs team etc.
  • Some children and young people may require specific medical and health intervention and support, such as gastro feeding, monitoring and support for epilepsy.
  • There needs to be close liaison between the school and the family to support a joined-up approach, including using family workers / support to help recognise and support needs in the home and community as well as school and help prepare for meaningful adulthood.
  • Some children and young people will have a therapy programme, and some will need advice from therapists or sensory teams.
  • Some children and young people may require mentoring, counselling or long- term inter-agency co-operation and planning.
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Last updated: 12 Jun 2024

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