Tags: A to Z of Special Needs

Educational psychologists are qualified teachers who have taught in schools and have then gone on to undertake further training in psychology.

They are trained to help children and young people (from birth to 19 years) who are experiencing difficulties in learning or behaviour.

Educational psychologists are the professionals who are most likely to work closely with schools, and the special needs coordinator in particular. They may be based in a Child Guidance Centre and will be responsible for several schools – primary, secondary and special.

The Educational Psychology Service has to ration numbers of visits to each school per year. In most local authorities the special needs coordinator needs to obtain written consent from the parent or carer before the child is seen by an educational psychologist, although if you have a general query and do not use the child’s full name you can discuss any pupil with them.

Educational psychologists are concerned with children’s learning and development and their barriers to learning. They are involved in statutory assessment and early identification of learning difficulties and emotional and behavioural difficulties, but their role can be far wider than this.

Their duties will include:

  • consultations with class teachers for advice about children in general terms
  • discussion with the special needs coordinator about particular children who have already been referred to the Educational Psychology Service#
  • observation, assessment and reporting on children with learning or emotional and behavioural difficulties who have been referred to them
  • attending annual reviews of statement meetings for children with statements of special educational needs
  • providing INSET for staff on any aspect of their work
  • meeting and advising the parents of children with special educational needs
  • debriefing staff who have been in a difficult situation with children or parents (this may sometimes include counselling after a bereavement in the school)
  • attending liaison meetings in school with other professionals eg. the school nurse or the educational welfare officer
  • planning how to reintegrate a child who has been absent for a long time, for example due to ill-health or an accident
  • drawing up learning programmes for children or groups of children with special educational needs of various kinds
  • introducing circle of friends as a strategy to support a particular child.

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