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Possible explanations for no progress or slow progress

When considering the reasons why a pupil is making little or no progress it is helpful to think about the following possible reasons:

It is helpful to consider the first three possibilities before jumping to the conclusion that it is due to a special educational need.

Language proficiency

The child may be learning slowly due to limited experience in English. They may not have established sufficient proficiency in any language yet or, they may not be learning because their level of BICs has misled the teacher into setting tasks that are too abstract for the child’s language level.

Environmental stress factors

These could be hindering learning both in and out of school. Examples are that the child may be experiencing racism either at home or at school or they may be stressed or traumatised. The family may be under a lot of stress, may have moved frequently or there may be conflicting demands in the home. It may be that the environment in the school is not inclusive and understanding.

Access to the curriculum

There may be barriers created by the school that mean the child is not able to access the curriculum effectively. For example, the child may be discouraged from using his/her first language, there may be few visuals or gestures or the child may have been placed in an inappropriate set.

It is important to work through the list of possible hypotheses for the child’s learning for the child’s perceived learning difficulties and to keep a really thorough record, including recording where information is not known.