Home Page

QUEST for Learning

Quest for Learning


At Millstead School we use a range of assessment materials that support the progress of our children using whichever is best suited to the children’s individual needs. For our children with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) we have adopted Quest for Learning. This is a tool that allows us to monitor very small steps of progress and allows the children to develop their own unique ‘pathway’ towards the key milestones. These key milestones (listed below) are based on development in infants and often reflect the special way our children learn to interact with the environment through communication and cognition (learning).


For Millstead School Quest for Learning is used to:

• provide a whole picture of the child and the learning process;

• focus on the child - their abilities rather than disabilities;

• provide an assessment which is process-based and looks at the relationship between the child and their environment;

• ensure that the main purpose of assessing a child is to enable them to make the best possible progress in the development of skills, knowledge and understanding.


The talented staff at Millstead School are trained to recognise the changes in the way the children interact with the environment and those around them. The 43 Quest for Learning milestones (like stepping stones) allow each child to take the route that is most suited to them and means that there is more flexibility to reach the 7 key milestones.

The key milestones are:

  • Notices stimuli – children recognising that something is ‘out there’ that may interest them and turn towards, look at it or reach out for it.

  • Respond consistently to one stimulus – children reacting in the same way to the same thing (person, noise, image, toy or place) over a prolonged period of time.

  • Contingency Responding – children making something happen and knowing that it was they themselves that did it.

  • Contingency awareness – children making something happen and knowing how they made it happen.

  • Object permanence – children knowing something is still there and exists even when they can’t touch, smell, hear, taste or see it.

  • Selects from two items – children making a choice of what they want when offered two things.

  • Exerting autonomy in a variety in a variety of contexts – children doing an action that they know will have the effect that they want.


These key milestones are reached through a pathway of a further 36 milestones that are mixture of communication and cognition (learning) and each milestone is broken down into smaller parts.


e = Encountered

d = Working towards (not consistent)

c = Either 1 place/1 person/1 stimulus

b = More than 1 place/1 person/1 stimulus or a combination of 2

a = generalised the skill -  in any place with any person AND with any stimulus


This is something we have been working at Millstead and have shared with other schools who are adopting a similar approach. We look towards children reaching each milestone over time from experiencing it to achieving it consistently in several situations with different people. For some children, maintaining a skill or retaining it as long as possible, is still considered progress given their individual needs and degenerative conditions.


We provide opportunities throughout the day, every day for children to work on their personalised targets in a variety of ways and make the most of the school environment and all that it offers in the way of rebound, sensory swimming and the immersive suite (sensory room). Each Quest for Learning target is adapted to the specific teaching and learning activity and staff make detailed observations to support the assessment process and show the progress the children make. Every success is celebrated and shared with the child and their families.