Educational Psychologists (or 'EPs') support the achievement and wellbeing of children and young people aged 0 to 25 years. In particular they aim to promote the educational and social inclusion of vulnerable groups, including those with special educational needs.
All EPs have had at least six years of training. Some are also qualified teachers, and others have worked in other school roles supporting children and young people.
All EPs have experience of working in a range of educational settings, with a range of young people with differing needs.
An EP's knowledge of psychology, child development, and change processes helps them to support schools, parents, and other professionals to best meet the needs of children and young people.
All EPs are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and have had an enhanced DBS check (the highest level of criminal records check).
Even after becoming qualified, EPs get regular training to keep their skills and professional knowledge up to date.
EPs work in a range of different ways to help the local authority, children and young people, families, school staff, and others. These include:
- working strategically to develop provision and service plans
- delivering training
- providing intervention and support
- providing supervision
- consulting with key adults involved with a young person
- direct work (e.g. observation and assessment) with young people
EPs spend much of their time in schools and other educational settings. They also work in the community, and at the homes of children and young people where appropriate.
They also work in other settings outside of Middlesbrough, where an agreement is in place.
At the beginning of each term in school-based work, EPs and school staff have a planning meeting. They look at the school's needs for the coming term, and agree on priorities. All requests for an EP to work with a child or young person are looked at in the context of the overall needs of the school.
The way EPs work is called a 'consultation framework'. This means they talk to people who know the child or young person well, and who are in a position to make decisions.
At a consultation meeting, people involved will talk about:
- what's going well and is helping to encourage progress
- what's causing concern, or is a barrier to progress
- what else can be done to help and encourage further progress
At the consultation meeting, an action plan will be agreed, and a follow-up meeting arranged.
Sometimes an EP will need to do more work to understand the situation or so they can do more planning. They might:
- observe a child or young person in school
- work with a child or young person to find out more about their skills and perspective
- deliver training to staff
- work with staff to make more plans
At a follow up meeting, usually about six weeks later, the action plan will be reviewed. There will be a discussion about progress and any new problems. There will also be a decision about whether the EP will still need to be involved.
This kind of involvement would only happen if parents, or those with parental responsibility, agreed to it.
Our framework matches our values. We value:
- supporting children and young people to live more fulfilling lives
- having a strengths-based approach, respecting individual differences
- working in ways which encourage working together, building relationships, and enabling others to build relationships
- working in ways which appreciate the knowledge, skills, and expertise of families and colleagues in schools and partner agencies
- working in a team where continuous learning and development are very important
Our framework also fits with professional guidelines from the British Psychological Society, as well as current legislation and code of practice guidelines.
EPs get written consent from parents, or those with parental responsibility, before they have discussions about, or get involved with, a child or young person.
They prioritise meeting parents or carers, along with school staff, before agreeing to do any direct work with a child or young person.
The Educational Psychology service doesn't work on a referral basis. The Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) is the main person in a school who coordinates the work of an EP.
If you're a professional or a parent who is concerned about a child, and you think working with an EP might be helpful, you should speak to the school's SENCo.
The SENCo will talk about your concerns with you, and then discuss things with the EP, if they think it's appropriate.
We (the council) can also request EP involvement. This might be to provide advice for a statutory assessment, or to look at the progress of a child or young person with an Education Health and Care plan (EHC plan). For statutory assessments, it's a legal requirement that an EP is involved.