Your study level

We've preselected "All levels" for you, but you can change your study level at any time by choosing one of the options on this menu. Changing your study level will return you to the beginning of the module.

Maths is everywhere
Boy reading to class with adult

How should we teach maths to the SLD learner? We are good at practising (usually developmental) skills around the table, but how good are we at encouraging children to apply those skills? If we're going to teach our learners skills, we have to be sure they can apply them.


Our teaching should be relevant for pupils but they may need to spend a long time within each area. For some, maintaining their mathematical skill level should be described as progress.

Technically we have to cover:

  • Number
  • Calculation
  • Problem solving
  • Shape, space and measure
  • Handling data
  • Algebra.

These skills can be covered in all of the other areas that we might need to teach in a very (crowded) full SLD curriculum.

Motivated maths
Group working at table with two adults

Mathematics can be taught more practically, more contextually, more concretely, and with much more motivation if it is taught as part of the process of shopping, or art, or dance, or playing games, or travel training, or cooking, or drama, or any part of life being lived.


Learning mathematical concepts is a different prospect for those with SLD/PMLD/CLDD. For this group of learners, mathematics is best studied through 'careful and thoughtful adaptation of both the curriculum and the environment in which it is delivered'
(Longhorn, 2000).


What this means on a practical level is that:

  • We must avoid teaching maths in a
    shallow fashion;
  • We must not allow the theory of maths to take precedence and the context to
    become secondary;
  • Maths might best be taught in exactly the converse situation.
  • We might need to ally the context with the process so that deep and meaningful learning takes place.
Case study: Anthony

Imagine you are invoking the situation of a shopping trip to help Anthony learn about about shape, space, and measure. What aspects of the experience might you employ to help him learn?


Click here to compare answers
Find out more
opened book

Longhorn, F. (2000) Numeracy for Very Special People. London. Catalyst.


QCA (2001) Planning, teaching and assessing the curriculum for pupils with learning difficulties. Mathematics. QCA/01/739.


QCDA (2009) Planning, teaching and assessing the curriculum for pupils with learning difficulties. General guidance. London. QCA.