Routes for Learning materials support practitioners in assessing learners with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). They focus on learners’ early cognitive development, their communication and social interaction skills, and their interaction with the environment.
The Routes for Learning materials were first published in 2006 and were well-received nationally and internationally. As part of our wider reform of curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales, a range of practitioners and academic experts have worked together to update the materials. This was done to reflect the latest research in the field, as well as our new educational context.
The Routes for Learning Advisory Group were at the heart of updating the materials and we are especially grateful to members for their commitment to this work under challenging circumstances during COVID-19. An all-Wales network of schools has also played a key role in gathering videos to exemplify the descriptors on the Routemap, helping to bring these materials alive to practitioners. These schools are listed below:
- Canolfan Addysg Y Bont
- Crownbridge School
- Ysgol Crug Glas
- Ysgol Heol Goffa
- Ysgol Heulfan – Y Canol
- Ysgol Maes Hyfryd
- Ysgol Maes y Coed
- Ysgol Pen Coch
- Queen Elizabeth High School
- St Christopher's School
- Ysgol Tir Morfa Community Special School
- Ty Coch School
- Ty Gwyn Special School
- Ysgol Y Deri
Updating the Routes for Learning materials has been an iterative process with draft materials published and feedback gathered in April 2019 and January 2020. The feedback received from both educational and health practitioners has been invaluable in helping to finalise the updated materials.
- Routes for Learning virtual engagement event: 2 December 2020 Overview pptx 1.09 Mb This file may not be accessible. If you need a more accessible version of this document please email email@example.com. Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is
The Routemap provides an overview of the three strands of development – cognitive development, communication and social interaction, and environmental interaction – and shows the most important milestones as orange boxes.
Every box on the Routemap is numbered for ease of reference, but although behaviours which are developmentally earlier have lower numbers the numbering does not represent an expected sequence in which behaviours are likely to be learned or in which they should be taught. Learners should not be expected to achieve them in strict numerical order.
The evidence suggests that every learner is likely to pass through the key milestones, although the routes they take may vary according to their physical, sensory and learning needs.
Here, you will find the Routemap along with an explanatory note which outlines the changes made during the updating process.
Routes for Learning: Assessment booklet
The assessment booklet below provides practical support on how to use the Routemap through examples of assessment activities, teaching strategies and an indication of what to look for when assessing. It is presented according to 12 themes.
Below you will find videos exemplifying 36 of the Routemap milestones and boxes. They are arranged according to the 12 themes that are reflected in the assessment booklet.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schools, we have been unable to work with practitioners and learners over this last year to complete the full suite of videos. This work will therefore continue until we have a full suite of videos.
1. Notices stimuli
3. Responds to very obvious stimulus
6. Responds to range of stimuli
9. Responds consistently to one stimulus
12. Responds differently to different stimuli
2. Responds to close physical contact with familiar person
14. Anticipates repetitively presented stimulus
7. Supported 1:1 turn-taking with adult
11. Responds to some stimuli in a way that can be interpreted as rejection
22. Responds in ways that can be interpreted as meaning ‘more’
28. Communicates 'more / 'no more' through two different consistent actions
10. Briefly follows moving stimulus
20. Looks briefly after object disappearing from their field of vision
34. Object permanence
16. With support explores immediate environment
21. In a reactive environment repeats action which obtains sensory feedback
24. In an everyday environment repeats action which obtains sensory feedback
17. Anticipates within familiar social routines
30. In the context of a familiar social game, perseveres by repeating action in order to get reward
33. Initiates social game
40. Joint attention
18. Redirects attention to a second object
25. Changes behaviour in response to interesting event nearby
29. 'Looks' backwards and forwards between two objects (knows two objects are present)
19. Accidental actions cause effect
23. Responds to cause and effect
26. Shows understanding that their action causes a specific effect
15. Objects to termination of interaction
32. Attracts attention
31. Repeats action when first attempt unsuccessful
35. Does two different actions in sequence to get reward
38. Modifies action when repeating action does not work
42. Early problem-solving – tries new strategy when old one fails
36. Selects from two or more items
37. Communicates choice to attentive adult
41. Expresses preference for items not present via symbolic means
Routes for Learning: Guidance
The guidance below enables practitioners to assess learners with PMLD and identify how best to support them in their learning.
Summary of feedback received during spring 2020
The document below sets out the various sources of feedback received following the publication of draft materials in January 2020. It outlines the key themes arising from the feedback, and the work that has been undertaken to refine the guidance to address the feedback.
Ongoing work, next steps and how you can contribute
The glossary will provide support to practitioners in using the Routemap and wider Routes for Learning materials. Below, you will find some examples of definitions for your consideration.
We are continuing to develop the glossary and would like to invite you to comment on the content. We would also welcome suggestions of additional terms to be included.
All comments should reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are continuing to gather videos to exemplify the milestones and boxes on the Routemap. Should your setting/school wish to contribute videos please contact email@example.com
An interactive Routemap
We will be building an interactive Routemap, bringing the Routemap itself, the content of the assessment booklet and the exemplification videos together at the click of a button.
Professional learning materials
A flexible suite of professional learning materials is being developed to support individuals or groups of practitioners, as well as supporting professional dialogue within and between schools.
These materials will be finalised and published during the 2020/21 academic year.
- Routes for Learning virtual engagement event – 2 December 2020 Professional learning pptx 223 Kb This file may not be accessible. If you need a more accessible version of this document please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is
Some research has been conducted using the 2006 edition of the Routes for Learning materials. This is summarised in this article.
- The use of the ‘Routes for Learning’ assessment for learners with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) in England and Wales pdf 771 Kb This file may not be accessible. If you need a more accessible version of this document please email email@example.com. Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is
Further research is currently being conducted to further develop our understanding of the nature of the progress made by learners with PMLD in relation to the Routemap.
Updates on this research will be accessible from this page. If you wish to contribute to research on Routes for Learning, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org