The job of the educational psychologist

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  • The job of the educational psychologist
    • Statutory (legal) duty - They carry out assessments of children with special needs. The Education Act set out the Code of Practice - it requires that children with special educational needs must achieve their full potential and says that children with severe complex needs must be assessed so that the needs are met.
    • Consultation - They are often attached to several schools. They visit each school once a term or more, depending on the size of the school. They talk to teachers, head teachers and other staff  such as the special needs co-ordinator (SENCO) and also children and parents, giving support and advice.
    • Individual assessments - They carry out assessments and testing, e.g. IQ testing and other standardised tests. Children are tested for literacy and numeracy ability as well as in other developmental areas, such as physical abilities and language, e.g. Dyslexia. They then make their own observations and talk to other professionals, gathering quantitative and qualitative data. They ask children open questions to uncover meaningful information.
    • Planning interventions - this means planning a way to solve a problem. They often work with the child and the teacher, and either or both of these people may need to change in some way, so that behaviour changes. The ed psych does not put this plan into action themselves, they leave it to those who are involved & check up on progress. Interventions can include suggestions on spotting problems earlier, communicating more successfully, or acknowledging good behaviour more often.
    • Training - planned interventions need training so that the teacher, child or anyone else concerned, understands what is required and why.
    • Research - an ed psych might choose to carry out a research project, such as helping children in Year7 with social skills when they move to a new school.
    • Multi-agency working - means different agencies such as health workers, social services and education personnel - work together to support a child or a family. This is to make sure that no case 'falls between' agencies and gets missed.
    • System-level work - an ed psych may advise on systems in schools, such as bullying policies or policies with regard to support for additional needs.
    • Keeping up-to-date - by knowing about new studies and new ways of working (such as new reading schemes).
    • Multi-professional approach to diagnosis - although a psychiatrist will formally diagnose a disorder such as ADHD, an ed psych may be involved in early diagnosis, perhaps by preparing a report or by referring the child to a psychiatrist.


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