An Educational Psychologist (sometimes referred to as an EP or ‘ed psych’) is someone trained to help children and young people (from ages 0 - 25) with their learning and development. This can be through:
- direct work with a child or young person,
- supporting the adults around the child (parents, carers, teachers and professionals from a range of disciplines) or
- a combination of both
All Educational Psychologists are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (or HCPC). All EPs have undertaken accredited post-graduate level training and research in order to qualify for their role, and also take part in continuing professional development activities.
The structure of the Educational Psychology service
The Educational Psychology service is made up of:
- Principal Educational Psychologist. The Principal Educational Psychologist manages the overall running of the EP Service and strategic direction, working with other senior leaders in the Local Authority.
- Deputy Principal Educational Psychologist. The Deputy Principal Educational Psychologist supports the principal and works closely with the rest of the team.
- Educational Psychologists. Educational Psychologists work directly with children, families, and schools. They also supervise the Trainee and Assistant educational Psychologists. We also have an Educational Psychologist working within the Virtual School (VS). The VS Educational Psychologist supports the psychological well-being and positive educational outcomes of children and young people who are in the care of Central Bedfordshire Local Authority (also known as ‘Looked After Children’).
- (Associate and Locum) Educational Psychologists. Sometimes you may see an Associate or Locum Educational Psychologist. Locum Educational Psychologists are not directly employed through a Central Bedfordshire Council contract but support us to meet the EHCP requests we have. We are moving towards employing Associate Educational Psychologists to support with EHCP requests. Associate will have a closer relationship with the permanent team.
- Trainee Educational Psychologists. Trainee Educational Psychologists are studying for their doctorate in Educational Psychology. They work in our service on placements as part of their course and are supervised by qualified Educational Psychologists. The course lasts for 3 years and once complete they will become qualified Educational Psychologists.
- Assistant Educational Psychologists. Assistant Educational psychologists support all members of the Educational Psychology service, often conducting activities such as pupil observations and other work under the supervision of a qualified Educational Psychologist.
Why might an Educational Psychologist become involved with your child?
An Educational Psychologist is usually asked to provide support regarding a pupil at pre-school, school or college when they are believed to be struggling despite the support that the setting is providing as part of the graduated approach.
Pupils might be:
- not making expected progress in their learning
- struggling to express themselves or understand what is going on in the classroom
- having social interaction issues which affect their friendships and wellbeing
- having difficulty managing their feelings and behaviours
- experiencing physical, sensory or health needs which are impacting on their development and education
What to do if you have concerns about your child at school
If you have concerns about your child’s needs at school, you need to speak to your child's class / form teacher. They may suggest a meeting with the school’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator (SENCo) or member of the pastoral team. There should be a SEND policy available on the school’s website.
You may also wish to contact Central Bedfordshire Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS).
If your child has additional needs, their school must:
- follow the SEND code of practice please note this is a lengthy document for multiple audiences, you may wish to refer straight to chapter 6 or go to a summary guide for parents and carers from the Department for Education
- refer to our graduated approach and implement it using an ongoing process called "assess, plan, do and review”
- Assess – gather information and carry out assessments on your child's needs
- Plan – teachers, parents and pupils agree outcomes to work towards (often phrased as SMART targets Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time limited)
- Do – implement the support needed to meet these goals
- Review - and then monitor the progress made and response to support, making changes if necessary and beginning the cycle again
- In Central Bedfordshire, some nurseries, schools and colleges use a SEND support plan to help them with this process.
When and how does an Educational Psychologist become involved?
If, despite the support your child's educational setting is providing, there are still concerns then the school's Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator (SENCo), with your permission, may discuss their concerns with the school's link Educational Psychologist.
Our offer to schools, preschools and colleges is kept under review in response to staffing levels and Covid restrictions. We currently provide Educational Psychologist involvement for children and young people who meet any of the following indicators:
- children and young people who are in the process of undergoing an EHC Needs Assessment
- children and young people with existing EHC Plans, where there is continued concern, or a significant change in their needs or circumstances
- children and young people in the care of the local authority (‘Looked After Children’) where their educational setting has requested help to identify and support their educational needs
- children and young people of secondary school age (Years 7 to 11 inclusive) whose social, emotional and mental health needs put them ‘at risk’ of school exclusion or social exclusion
In Central Bedfordshire, the Educational Psychology Service can only be requested by schools.
After speaking with their assigned Educational Psychologist, educational settings may request a consultation. Only nurseries, schools and colleges can do this. They will share the content of the request with you and you will be asked to give your signed consent.
Please note: without your signed consent, the request will not proceed.
What to expect from Educational Psychologist involvement
When an Educational Psychologist becomes involved, they will usually attempt to develop an overall picture of your child by completing a number of activities. These may include:
- observing your child at pre-school, school or college
- discussing your child's strengths and needs with yourself, key members of staff at your child’s setting and any other professionals that may be supporting your child, e.g. a paediatrician, speech and language therapist
- talking to your child about the things they like, their strengths and the things they can find difficult
- carrying out activities or assessments with your child in order to develop a better understanding of their strengths and needs
- meeting with you and school staff to discuss outcomes, strategies to support them and agree an action plan
The Educational Psychologist will write a report which will summarise your child's identified needs and actions which were agreed in consultation with yourself and the school. Your child’s school or setting will then be responsible for implementing any agreed actions and reviewing your child's progress.
What may the Educational Psychologist wish to discuss with you?
Things you may wish to think about or discuss beforehand:
- your views regarding your child's strengths and interests
- your child's developmental progress and any medical needs they may have
- any challenges you may be experiencing at home
- how your child interacts with adults and children outside school
- how you feel your child is progressing at school
- your aspirations (desired outcomes) for your child moving forward
How to contact the Educational Psychology service?
Direct contact with the service is usually made via the school or setting’s Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (SENCo).