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Routes for Learning

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.

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.

  • Routemap pdf 1.11 Mb This file may not be accessible. If you need a more accessible version of this document please email digital@gov.wales. Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is
  • Routemap explanatory note pdf 353 Kb This file may not be accessible. If you need a more accessible version of this document please email digital@gov.wales. Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is

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.

  • Assessment booklet pdf 1.12 Mb This file may not be accessible. If you need a more accessible version of this document please email digital@gov.wales. Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is

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

The guidance below enables practitioners to assess learners with PMLD and identify how best to support them in their learning.

  • Routes for Learning: Guidance pdf 454 Kb This file may not be accessible. If you need a more accessible version of this document please email digital@gov.wales. Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is

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.

Glossary

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 assessment@gov.wales

  • Glossary pdf 372 Kb This file may not be accessible. If you need a more accessible version of this document please email digital@gov.wales. Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is

Exemplification videos

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 assessment@gov.wales

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.

      Research

      Some research has been conducted using the 2006 edition of the Routes for Learning materials. This is summarised in this article.

      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 assessment@gov.wales