curved white border

A diagnosis of profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) suggests that someone has more than one disability, with the most significant being a learning disability. Many individuals diagnosed with PMLD will also have a sensory or physical disability, complex health needs, or mental health difficulties. Supporting individuals with PMLD requires a unique blend of compassion, patience, and specialised skills.


PMLD support workers play an important role in ensuring the well-being and development of individuals facing complex challenges in the classroom. They are entrusted with the critical task of providing personalised care and assistance to individuals with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Their roles encompass a spectrum of responsibilities aimed at enhancing the quality of life and promoting the holistic development of students.


Are you looking to start your career within SEN education and interested in what it takes to be a successful PMLD support worker? This article delves into the responsibilities, essential skills, required qualifications, experience and career prospects of PMLD support workers as well as the average salary for someone in this role. Read our guide to decide whether this could be a suitable role for you and how Sugarman can help kickstart your career.

What is a PMLD Support Worker?


PMLD support workers are frontline advocates, offering practical and emotional support to individuals with PMLD, often assisting with activities such as feeding, toileting, and personal hygiene. They also play a vital role in facilitating sensory stimulation and communication, using a variety of techniques and resources tailored to the unique needs of each student.


PMLD support workers collaborate closely with teachers, therapists, and healthcare professionals, to implement individualised care plans and educational strategies. They monitor and record progress, provide feedback to the team, and adapt their approach as needed to ensure optimal outcomes for pupils.


Beyond the classroom, PMLD support workers also serve as advocates for inclusion and accessibility, promoting environments that respect and accommodate the diverse needs of individuals with PMLD. Their dedication and unwavering commitment contribute significantly to a supportive and inclusive educational experience for all SEN students.

Roles and Responsibilities of a PMLD Support Worker


  • Attend to students’ personal needs, including social health, hygiene, first aid, and welfare matters, ensuring their physical comfort and well-being throughout the school day.
  • Assist students with personal care, including feeding, toileting, and dressing.
  • Support students in their educational activities, implementing tailored strategies and resources to meet their individual learning needs.
  • Help create a nurturing and inclusive environment within the classroom where students feel valued, safe, and encouraged to participate.
  • Promote the integration of PMLD students with their peers, facilitating opportunities for social interaction and inclusion.
  • Liaise with parents, carers, and professional staff, such as educational psychologists, to promote students’ learning objectives and address any concerns or challenges that may arise.
  • Assist in the delivery of therapeutic interventions and activities, following guidance from qualified professionals, to support students’ physical, cognitive, and emotional development.
  • Provide ongoing support and encouragement to students during therapeutic sessions, helping to facilitate engagement and participation.
  • Maintain accurate records and documentation related to students’ progress, behaviour, and care routines, ensuring confidentiality and compliance with relevant policies and regulations.
  • Regularly review and update records to reflect changes in students’ needs and achievements and communicate updates as necessary.

Required Skills for the Role


There are a range of necessary skills and knowledge that make a successful PMLD support worker. Here are a few requirements for working in this role.


  • Patience and empathy towards students with PMLD, recognising and valuing their individual strengths and capabilities. 
  • Commitment to safeguarding pupils’ well-being and ensuring their safety at all times. 
  • Enthusiasm, positivity, and a proactive attitude towards supporting students with PMLD. 
  • Relevant experience or training in Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and Makaton, communication tools commonly used with individuals with complex needs. 
  • A thorough understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with PMLD, including their sensory, communication, and mobility needs. 
  • Ability to provide personal care with sensitivity, dignity, and respect, maintaining the autonomy and dignity of students at all times 
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, to effectively interact with students, colleagues, parents, and school staff. 
  • Strong time management skills to effectively prioritise tasks, manage workload, and meet the diverse needs of students. 
  • Flexibility and adaptability to respond to the changing needs and dynamics of students and the school environment. 



Although most PMLD support roles do not require any formal qualifications, it can be useful to build up a foundation of knowledge around working in an SEN setting. Individuals aspiring to become PMLD support workers in schools can pursue various college courses or training programs to acquire the necessary skills and qualifications. Some relevant options include:


  • Teaching assistant courses: Many colleges offer teaching assistant courses that cover topics such as understanding special educational needs, supporting children with disabilities, and implementing effective learning strategies. These courses provide practical skills and knowledge relevant to working as a PMLD support worker.  
  • SEN courses: Colleges may offer specific SEN courses or modules focusing on supporting individuals with complex learning difficulties, including PMLD. These courses typically cover topics such as inclusive education, behaviour management, and communication strategies for individuals with special needs. 
  • Health and social care courses: Courses in health and social care can provide valuable insights into supporting individuals with disabilities and complex needs. Topics covered may include person-centered care, safeguarding, and practical skills in providing personal care and support. 
  • Work-based apprenticeships: Some colleges offer work-based apprenticeship programs in support roles within education or social care settings. Apprenticeships provide opportunities to gain practical experience while earning qualifications, combining classroom learning with on-the-job training. 


Access the ‘Find a course’ page

Work Experience


Some positions may specify a requirement of one year of experience working with PMLD students. There are various pathways to gain relevant experience. This can include professional experience like working at a school, volunteering, experience in a similar field like childcare or social work, training and development programs and shadowing opportunities.


Not all positions require previous experience. Employers look for candidates who demonstrate a genuine passion for working with individuals with complex needs, as well as the empathy, patience, and adaptability required to excel in this rewarding but challenging role.

Average Salary for PMLD Support Workers


The salary for PMLD Support workers can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and employer. In London, PMLD support workers can expect to earn around £460-525 per week. This typically translates to a daily rate of £85-100, paid on a weekly basis. On an annual basis, this equates to approximately £26,000 per annum.


Salaries may differ outside of London and can vary based on the specific responsibilities and requirements of the role. Additionally, some employers may offer additional benefits or incentives as part of the compensation package.


While salaries for PMLD support workers may vary, they reflect the importance of the role in providing essential support and care to individuals with complex learning needs.

Career Paths and Progression Opportunities


Career paths and progression opportunities for a PMLD support worker can vary depending on individual interests, qualifications, and experience. Some potential career paths and progression opportunities include: 


  • Specialist Support Roles: PMLD support workers may choose to specialise in specific areas such as sensory integration, communication therapy, or behavioural interventions. They can pursue further training and qualifications to become specialists in these fields, allowing for more focused support and career advancement opportunities. 
  • Senior Support Worker: Experienced PMLD support workers may progress to senior support worker or team leader roles, where they take on additional responsibilities such as supervising and mentoring junior staff, coordinating care plans, and liaising with other professionals. 
  • Further Education and Training: PMLD support workers may choose to pursue further education and training to expand their knowledge and skills in areas such as special education, counselling, or healthcare. This could lead to opportunities for career advancement into roles such as special educational needs coordinator (SENCO), educational psychologist, or speech and language therapist. 
  • Management and Leadership Roles: With sufficient experience and qualifications, PMLD support workers may progress into management or leadership positions within educational or social care settings. These roles may involve overseeing service delivery, managing staff teams and developing policies and procedures. 

PMLD support workers play a vital role in providing essential care, support, and assistance to individuals with profound and multiple learning disabilities.


Despite the challenges in supporting individuals with PMLD, the profession offers immense rewards and opportunities for personal and professional growth. PMLD support workers have the privilege of making a positive impact on the lives of students and contributing towards their development, independence, and well-being. 


Becoming a PMLD support worker is not just a job; it’s a chance to make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals with profound and multiple learning disabilities, while also opening doors to a fulfilling and dynamic career within the field of special education. 


Are you looking for a job within SEN education? Sugarman Education has more than 25 years of experience placing teachers and support staff in SEN roles across London and surrounding areas. Click below to view our latest jobs. 


View all SEN jobs