Learning disability


It is estimated that more than 1.2 million people in the UK are living with a learning disability. 

We have guides and resources to help you ensure your workers have the right skills and knowledge when working with people with a learning disability.

What is a learning disability?

People who have a learning disability (internationally referred to as an intellectual disability) have a significantly reduced ability to:

  • understand new or complex information or to learn new skills (impaired intelligence)
  • cope independently (impaired adaptive and/or social functioning)
  • cope independently which is apparent before adulthood is reached and has a lasting effect on development.

Each of these three criteria must be met before someone can be said to have a learning disability - intelligence quotient (IQ) alone should not be used to determine presence of a learning disability.

People who have a learning disability may also have autism and / or a mental health and / or a physical health problem.

Supporting consistent training

The ‘Learning Disabilities Core Skills Education and Training Framework’ is now available. It sets out the skills and knowledge care and health workers need to apply to deliver quality learning disabilities services.

The aim of the framework is to support the development and delivery of appropriate and consistent cross-sector learning disabilities education and training.

It was commissioned by the Department of Health and we’ve developed it with Health Education England and Skills for Health.

Positive behavioural support

Positive behavioural support (PBS) is the best way of supporting people who display, or are at risk of displaying, behaviour which challenges services. 

We have resources to help, including a guide to arranging and paying for training in PBS.

Transforming Care

The Transforming Care programme is designed to improve services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism, who display behaviour that challenges, including those with a mental health condition. This will drive system-wide change and enable more people to live in the community, with the right support, and close to home.

We are working with Health Education England, Skills for Health, Transforming Care partners and other key stakeholders to support the ambitions of the Transforming Care programme by ensuring that we have a workforce which is able to effectively support people with a learning disability in the community.


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