The role of the Educational Psychologist (NI)

Educational psychologists have undertaken higher level university study and are also experienced teachers. They work in all sectors of the education system including child development clinics for pre-school children, where many children with potential learning difficulties can be identified early.

Each school has the services of a psychologist; this is organised in different ways depending on which ELB the school is in. The school may have been allocated a specific number of days of the psychologist’s time, or school’s wishing help may be placed on a waiting list.

Educational psychologists are able to help teachers and pupils in a variety of ways, including:

  • giving advice to individual teachers in relation to particular pupils (this should be requested through the SENCO)
  • running inset courses to schools on particular needs
  • carrying out individual assessment for KS3 pupils
  • intervention work such as counselling, behaviour management and student study skills
  • therapeutic work

When a child has been assessed by the teacher and the SENCO/Resource Teacher as having special educational needs likely to result in a need for additional learning support, it may be considered that he/she or she needs to be assessed in more detail by a specialist. At present many of the support services have to be accessed through the recommendation of an educational psychologist. In Northern Ireland this is likely to happen when a child is at Stage 3 of the Code of Practice.

If learning support is considered to be necessary, a psychologist will spend some time on a one-to-one basis with the child, performing tests to assess strengths and weaknesses necessary for effective learning, e.g. short-term memory, visual and auditory memory and discrimination. (including possibly the WISC tests)
The findings will be written up in a report which will give recommendations to the teacher and SENCO/Resource Teacher from which an Education Plan will be devised.

Further Information

Online advice on various issues from an educational psychologist.
Understanding Educational Psychologist Reports