What Does ‘Additional Learning Needs’ Mean?

Children and young people with Additional Learning Needs may need more support to learn than themajority of children and young people of the same age; some may have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities provided for learners. About one in fivechildren and young people may have Additional Learning Needs at some time.

All children and young people learn at different rates and have different events going on in their lives that can affect their rate of learning.

Schools, colleges and Local Authorities can help most children overcome these difficulties. For some,these difficulties are shortterm; for other children, however, they will have Additional Learning Needsthroughout their school or college life. Some will have Additional Learning Needs in particular areas of their education, whilst others may need help with all or most aspects of their education.

A child or young person has Additional Learning Needs if he or she:

  • has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age;
  • has a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of facilities for education or training of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in schools, colleges or settings.

There is not a direct correlation between having a disability and having an Additional Learning Need. However, there will be some forms of disability where a child or young person is more likely to have ALN. The critical factor is whether the disability prevents or hinders the learner from making use of education or training that is generally provided.

Welsh or English as an additional language.
A child or young person does not have a learning difficulty or disability solely because the language (or form of language) in which he or she is or will be taught is different from a language (or form of language) which is or has been used at home.

More Able and Talented.
Learners who are more able across the curriculum or show talent in one or more specific areas may be considered ‘more able and talented’ pupils. They should not be considered as having ALN solely on the basis of their enhanced ability or talent.

Healthcare needs.
Not all learners with a medical or healthcare need will have ALN. Medical conditions will not be regarded as ALN where:

  • they do not cause a significantly greater difficulty in learning, or
  • where they do not constitute a disability that necessarily affects access to education or training generally on offer.

However, if a healthcare need does impact on a child or young persons capacity to learn, they may require some adaptation to the curriculum which is set out in an Individual Health Care Plan.  

Click on the link below to read more about Supporting learners with healthcare needs:


You may also see the following words:

  • Special Educational Needs
  • Additional Educational Needs
  • Additional Needs
  • Disability

These can also be described as Additional Learning Needs.

Examples of Additional Learning Needs

A child with Additional Learning Needs might experience difficulties in one or more of the following areas:

  • Experiencing difficulties with communication and/or interacting with others. (e.g. finding it difficult to express themselves or understand what others are saying);
  • Experiencing difficulties with understanding and learning. (e.g. difficulty with reading, writing or number work, or understanding information);
  • Experiencing difficulties with behaviour, social or emotional development. (e.g. unable to control their behaviour, process emotions, make friends, concentrate or struggle communicating with others);
  • Experiencing difficulties with sensory and/or physical things. (e.g. physical disabilities; lacking in co-ordination, etc);
  • Experience medical problems or difficulties.

Children do not have a learning difficulty solely because their first language is not English or Welsh. (However, some of these children may also have learning difficulties). Some learning difficulties are clear from an early age, but in some cases the difficulties may not be noticed until the child is at school. Also, children may have difficulties in several areas.  If children have levels of attainment well below expected levels, after teachers have tried different ways of helping, this can be called Moderate Learning Difficulties (or MLD) or General Learning Difficulties (or GLD).

Children who are behind in their work (or are struggling) will often have low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and low motivation. They may refuse to try new work because they think they will fail before they start. Children like this need support to access the curriculum. Here are some examples of Additional Learning Needs that a child with may experience:

  • reading, writing, number work;
  • understanding information;
  • expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying;
  • making friends or relating to adults;
  • behaving appropriately at school;
  • organising themselves;
  • difficulty in hearing, seeing or moving around which may affect their learning.

With many children, these difficulties are not severe and are temporary. (e.g.  learning a new language).

Local Support in West Wales

Parent Partnership Services provide support and advice to parents whose children have Additional Learning Needs. Information and advice is provided by a dedicated team who provide accurate and neutral information.