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.