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Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

Educational psychology

How an educational psychologist can help

Educational psychologists (EPs) use specialist psychological knowledge and skills to promote the development, learning, achievement and well-being of children and young people from 0 – 25 years.

It takes at least 8 years to train as an EP. The training includes an initial psychology degree, work with children and completing a doctorate in educational psychology.

Initial consultation and assessment

Permission from you as parents and carers must always be provided for us to talk about, observe or work with your child.

EPs plan their support based on the concerns for your child. EP assessment usually starts with a consultation approach to build a shared understanding of the concerns for your child. We would always want to talk to you as part of the consultation process to understand your child’s strengths, interests and difficulties.

It helps us if you can share a little about what life is like in your family – what is fun and works for you all and what might be more difficult for you.

Initial consultation and assessment may include:

  • meeting you and staff who know your child (consultation)
  • observing in the classroom or playground
  • talking to your child
  • looking at school work and progress information
  • using activities or tests
  • developing a support plan including recommended quality teaching approaches
  • reviewing a support plan and recommendations previously made

A written consultation record or record of involvement will be available for all involved. The record is quite short and to the point but will include all the details about the key actions agreed for your child.

The school or setting can get started on implementing these key actions quickly and then plan to review how these work out in a few weeks. It can be very helpful to involve other specialist advisory services at this stage.

Review and further EP assessment

For many children, the recommendations from the initial consultation record work well to support their needs. So with a few extra supports from time to time as all children need, your child is settled in school and progresses well.

In schools and settings, this is called following a Graduated Approach or Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support. This approach is based on the good practice known as an assess-plan-do-review cycle.

The graduated response

Sometimes, for a very few children, the situation is a little more complicated. Their progress may seem to be ‘stuck’ and parents or carers and staff in school think that some more in-depth work from the EP is needed.

In this situation, we would always work with all the people who know and support your child whilst we look in more detail at how life is for them in school and at home.

  • We work directly with your child focusing on the key areas of their learning and/or emotional needs.
  • Needs are assessed using approaches such as talking and working together, observation and using standard activities or test materials.
  • The outcomes of these assessments are then interpreted alongside how your child seems in school and at home.

The EP will record their findings and recommendations in an EP report to be shared with you and everyone who supports your child

The report will include specific and targeted interventions which can be delivered in school to support your child with the problems they are experiencing listed.

These interventions are based on what is called ‘quality first teaching’ and/or ‘targeted support’ because these are approaches that have been shown to work well.

This report is an important part of an assess-plan-do-review cycle that can be used throughout your child’s time in school to support them if needed.

An important part of the EP assessment is to meet again (a review consultation) after a period of time to review your child’s progress and the impact of the support that was recommended.

Statutory work by an EP for Devon County Council

For most children, the support described above works well to help them make the most of their time in school. For a very few children with significant needs, which persist over time, more joint assessment and planning may be needed and an Education, Health, Care and Needs (EHCN) Assessment is requested from the 0 – 25 SEND team.

The Educational Psychology Service is commissioned to provide assessment and written statutory educational psychology advice as part of an Education, Health, Care and Needs Assessment.

What will an EP report cover?

Once an EP has completed an EHCN assessment they will normally produce a report giving an overview of a child or young person’s strengths and needs, outcomes that will show that they are progressing and the educational provision and approaches which are recommended. This report may refer to previous EP support.

The report may cover the following areas:


  • Sources of information.
  • Views and aspirations of your child or young person.
  • Views of parent(s) or carer(s) and school staff.
  • Background information.
  • Input from other professionals.
  • Developmental assessment and educational attainment, including factors such as communication and interaction, cognition and learning, social, emotional and mental health, sensory and/or physical needs.
  • Psychological formulation and summary – this is where the EP draws together all the information that has been considered – they will give an explanation about what they think are the key facts about your child’s learning and summarise their needs.


  • Short-term aspirations and expected outcomes.
  • Long-term aspirations and expected outcomes.

Educational provision, facilities and resources

  • Curriculum needs.
  • Approaches to teaching and learning.
  • Individual support needs.

All our educational psychologists are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council and are Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked.

If you have any queries, please talk with your school in the first instance. If you then still have further queries or questions, please contact us. You can email