An exploratory multiple case study investigating how the Routes for Learning assessment approach has been implemented by professionals working with children and young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties

  • Heidi Mcdermott

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


Background: The Routes for Learning (RfL) assessment is intended to enable accurate assessment of the cognitive and communication skills of pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). A literature search revealed that there is little published research regarding the implementation or effectiveness of RfL. This study aimed to begin to address this lack of research by investigating some of the ways in which the RfL materials are used in practice, why they have been used in these ways and how this relates to the RfL guidance.Participants: Two special school settings were identified while working for an Educational Psychology Service. For each setting a practitioner using RfL and a staff member with leadership responsibility for assessment/RfL was identified.Methods: A multiple embedded case study was conducted in two special school settings in a North West local authority. A running record was kept of observations made of school staff using RfL in practice. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with practitioners using RfL and staff members with leadership responsibility for RfL. All interviewees also completed a background questionnaire to provide context for the research and to support data from interviews. Interviews were recorded and transcribed. An examination of the RfL materials and resources was undertaken.Analysis/ Findings: All interview data were analysed using thematic analysis and the findings presented as thematic maps.Conclusion/ Implications: This study found that RfL is being used in different ways in special schools and identified a number of issues which relate to its use and implementation.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester


  • special school
  • routes for learning
  • implementation
  • Profound and multiple learning difficulties
  • PMLD
  • assessment

Cite this