An Educational Phychologist Writes About Her Work

As a maingrade EP whose remit falls outside of the CGS management brief some thoughts are offered in terms of my generic EP position relating to potential contributions. My duties include direct and indirect services to schools (Pre-school, Primary, Secondary and Special), families, the Local Education Authority (LEA) and the community served by the Local Authority (LA) as a whole.  The Educational Psychology Service (EPS) in which I work is itself located within a multi-disciplinary Child Guidance Service (CGS) and some of my time is allocated to work with CGS colleagues.   

All work with which I am engaged is intended to contribute to and facilitate the optimal learning and development of children aged 0-19 years within the borough and to fulfill the three broad Child Guidance Service aims of providing psychological assessment and

advisory services, multi-disciplinary assessment and treatment of children and families referred to the service and on-going development of the service as a whole.

My work can be categorized into 4 areas which are not necessarily discreet, and which interact and have implications for the work as a whole:

School-based EP work (1) and EP work external to school (2) 

(1) Assessment/intervention/evaluation within a legislative, solution-focused andconsultation framework at some or all of the following levels:  Pupil, group, class, staff, parent/career, whole school.

(2) Assessment/intervention/evaluation work for children/young people and families within a therapeutic framework.  This occasionally intersects with school-based work where my primary role in such instances is to facilitate and ‘bridge’. 
(1) Elicitation and dissemination of information (verbal and written) relating to school-based work and from and to families and involved professionals, e.g.; school visit records, consultation and assessment reports.

(2) Elicitation and dissemination of information (verbal and written) relating to CGS work and from and to families and involved professionals.  Also LEA/LA commissioned work entailing the above. 
(1) Staff development and training on areas identified by school staff in consultation with EPS and LEA personnel

(2) Staff development and training on areas identified by CGS and LEA/LA and EP profession.  Peer supervision and support. Team building. 
(1) & (2) Research, evaluation and project work arising from the school’s ‘live’ concerns/questions Research, evaluation and project work commissioned by or stimulated byLEA/LA/Department for Education and Employment (DfEE)/ Educational Psychology profession

How Might The EP Role And Function Be Developed?

Currently the majority of my work relates to the first two categories, i.e. Assessment/intervention/evaluation and Elicitation and dissemination of information and it would appear that schools’ priorities for EP work match these fairly closely, i.e.:

· Individual assessment work

· Meeting statutory requirements relating to children with SEN's, i.e; annual review of statement procedures

· Work with staff on Individual Education Plan (IEP) formulation.

· Consultation and advice to senior management level staff re SEN issues

 The last item on the above list, frequently prompted by post-OFSTED initiatives represents a possible important exception and relates more to staff development and training andresearch, evaluation and project work and merits serious consideration as an area for development. 

 Recent National Level Debate And Planning For My Own Profession’s Development. 

What and how EPS’s can contribute to raising achievement and social inclusion is the focus of wide-ranging current work within the profession and the DfEE.  

The DfEE’s (1997)Green Paper ‘Excellence For All Children: Meeting special educational needs.’ refers explicitly to the role and development of educational psychology.  A working party from the Division of Educational and Child Psychology has been formed as a result of follow up to the Green Paper and is working closely with the DfEE.  The results, due new year, promises important implications for training, continuing professional development and practice of EPS’. 

The central theme arising from this work is that EP work needs to be acknowledged and re-defined in the light of governmental priorities for a more inclusive and effective education system. 

Four broad areas of EPS work are highlighted:   





What the profession and government are seeking is a shift of emphasis from statutory assessment work, currently consuming the majority of EPS’ time and energy to that of a position where EP assessment skills and knowledge remain focused upon the most complex individual cases but are utilized more fully in developing school staff’s assessment practice and with: 

·        Early intervention and preventative psychological work with children and young people whose SEN's are less complex and severe, i.e.; not requiring formal assessment under Section 323 of the 1996 Education Act.

·        Problem solving and consultation with teachers and parents/carers.

· Interventions with individuals, groups and schools.

·  Evaluation and development of effective teaching for effective learning of all.

·  Development of policy and practice for promoting positive behaviour.

·  Complex organisational change

·  Understanding of optimal learning and development for all within complex inter-related social systems.

·  Identifying trends and analysing individual needs and suggesting ways of meeting these through curriculum and organisational development.

· Training and support for teachers, support assistants, governors, other professionals and parents/carers.

·  Project and evaluation work to inform Local Authority Policy and Practice and efficient use of resources 

In summary then, the current need and desire for a fuller utilisation of EP skills, knowledge and competencies with a wider focus is becoming more apparent and should be taken into account when considering the development of EPs work with and for LEAs.