What is the role of an Educational Psychologist in the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) assessment process?

Educational Psychologists use psychology to understand how children and young people develop and the factors that may be influencing how they learn, their relationships and wellbeing.

An Educational Psychologist must complete an assessment before an EHCP is written. Their job is to identify the strengths and needs of the child or young person being assessed and how they should be supported. They don’t recommend specific schools. After the assessment the Educational Psychologist’s involvement ends but schools can access the Educational Psychology service if they need further support at a later date. Schools are kept up to date about the Educational Psychology service and information about the Educational Psychology service is available on the Local Offer.

How does the Educational Psychologist do their assessment?

Educational Psychologists always take a holistic approach, exploring how different aspects of a child’s life influence their strengths and needs, for example, the school environment, friendships, culture, family life and relationship with teachers.

Educational Psychologists can work in a variety of ways to gather information for the assessment including visiting school or home, or meeting young people online. If a child is very anxious, the Educational Psychologist will work with parents/carers and school to plan how best to support them and alternative approaches to the assessment.

Key principles of assessment

When Educational Psychologists complete an assessment they will always:

  • include your child’s views and experiences
  • include your views and experiences
  • draw upon information from other professionals involved in supporting your child
What assessment tools do they use?

There is no one approach to assessment, and Educational Psychologists can use a diverse range of methods and tools. These can be used directly with children themselves, but also with the adults that support them. The Educational Psychologist will ensure they are not repeating assessments that have already been done and will choose approaches that are the least intrusive and most effective.

Examples of types of assessments:

  • play and game-based activities
  • observations
  • standardised tests (comparing children’s skills to others)
  • dynamic assessments (exploring how children’s skills can be improved)
  • drawing activities
  • questionnaires

Assistant Educational Psychologists also work as part of the team and can support the Educational Psychologist to gather information for the assessment process, for example, carrying out observations or completing activities to gather children and young peoples’ views. The work of Assistant Educational Psychologists is supervised by the Educational Psychologist they are working with.

What are the steps when an Educational Psychologist completes an EHCP assessment?
  1. The Educational Psychologist will receive and read through all the documents and information submitted with the EHCP application. Educational Psychologists will take into consideration information provided by other professionals involved including previous Educational Psychology support.
  2. The Educational Psychologist will contact you by email or phone to arrange a time to speak with you. The purpose of this first conversation is to introduce themselves, find out how your child is currently doing, and any other important information.
  3. The Educational Psychologist will make contact with staff at your child’s school to discuss how they are doing and any other relevant information.
  4. After gathering this initial information, the Educational Psychologist will decide how they will approach the assessment, what sort of activities may be helpful and share this information with you. They may work with an Assistant Educational Psychologist to do this. If this is the case, the Educational Psychologist will agree this with you and then the Assistant will contact you directly about their involvement.
  5. The Educational Psychologist can provide you with a one-page profile about themself to share with your child, explaining their role in a child friendly way.
  6. The Educational Psychologist will complete their assessment activities and give you feedback about how these went.
  7. The Educational Psychologist ‘co-produce’ their assessment with you. That means working together with you throughout the process, including to identify outcomes and explore recommendations. Outcomes describe the skills that your child will develop over time. The aim is to have a ‘golden thread’ that links your child’s outcomes to their aspirations, strengths and needs and the support they require in school.
  8. The Educational Psychologist will complete a written report which will be sent to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) team at the local authority and yourself. The Educational Psychology report will summarise the assessment process, describe your child’s strengths and needs, describe outcomes for your child and provide recommendations about the support your child needs at school.