Educational Psychologists deliver strategic support to a range of schools, alternative education settings and businesses across Devon and other local authorities. We are a passionate team that aims to support the wellbeing, achievement and progress of children, young people and their families. Our staff are dedicated in working towards positive outcomes and we offer a wide range of innovative and unique support services as shown below.
Annual Educational Psychology check-in
From September 2022 we will be offering an Annual Educational Psychology check-in to ALL Devon maintained and academy schools, whether they use our traded service or not. So at least once a year, we have an opportunity to hear from each school about your priorities and concerns.
Your link EP will contact your SENCo to arrange your Annual Educational Psychology Service check-in meeting. Before the meeting they will send you a short proforma to complete before the meeting.
In the current context of high demand for EP services, we want to think carefully with schools about how this scarce resource can be best used to support at the earliest stages of concerns about a child’s development or well-being.
We would like you to consider these questions and feedback to your link EP:
- What are the 3 most valuable things your EP has done over the past year? What has been the impact of these on children?
- What’s the best way for you to receive EP advice and support?
- Any other thoughts or suggestions
Your link EP will be in touch in due course.
Specialist advice, psychological consultation and assessment
As part of their role in schools and settings, Educational Psychologists aim to contribute towards positive and inclusive outcomes for children, young people and their families. Where there are concerns within the school, a member of staff, for example, the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) may organise additional support for that child. Where concerns are on-going and persistent, a referral to the Educational Psychology Service may be appropriate. These concerns can be wide-ranging and may include:
- Lack of progress despite intervention.
- Significant difficulties with literacy and/or numeracy skills.
- Difficulties with memory, processing, language or communication skills.
- Concerns regarding social interaction ability and/or social communication skills.
- Concerns regarding difficulties with organisation, planning and attention.
- Challenging or confusing behaviours.
- Persistent difficulties with emotional skills and self-regulation.
- Physical, coordination or motor difficulties.
- Difficulties with sensory processing.
Educational Psychologists will incorporate multiple hypotheses and consider a range of information and evidence during assessment. The approaches used by Educational Psychologists vary depending on the child and situation, but may include:
- Consultation with key members of staff, Parents/carers and other professionals to problem-solve and agree a set of actions. EPs may also use structured collaborative problem-solving models.
- Observation of the child.
- Direct work with the child to explore their self-perceptions, beliefs and views.
- Direct work with the child, for example, to assess cognitive, literacy or numeracy skills, emotional wellbeing or response to mediation (support). EPs can draw upon a wide range of assessment tools including standardised and dynamic.
- Attendance at meetings, e.g. DAF or Team Around the Child (TAC).
Bespoke training and staff development
The Educational Psychology Service plays an important role across Devon schools in delivering training to meet the needs of a range of audiences and settings. Training can be delivered to individual schools and designed based on the specific requirements of that setting. The Educational Psychology Service also regularly hold larger training events and conferences. Take a look at our shop for further information.
Staff supervision and stress management
Working with children who display challenging behaviours can be incredibly rewarding; however at times it can have an emotional impact on staff and leave them vulnerable. Providing effective supervision to staff can be key to supporting their decision-making, ensuring their resilience and wellbeing and so improving the chance of positive outcomes for children and young people.
Staff supervision is provided by an Educational Psychologist and based on psychological principles. We offer individual supervision for staff and also group supervision, which can be run with a single school or between a group of schools. Each session will:
- Use a solution orientated approach to support thinking around individual cases.
- Build participants’ confidence in their own approaches.
- Enable participants to consider alternative strategies with a focus on practical implementation.
- Provide peer support to build resilience and reflective practice.
- Support quality decision-making and professional practice around behaviour and safety.
The Educational Psychology Service also develop bespoke sessions to meet the needs of individual schools, clusters of schools or learning communities. Please speak to your linked Educational Psychologist or contact the Senior Educational Psychologist for your area.
Therapeutic support work with children and young people
A range of Educational Psychologists offer therapeutic support to children and young people within the school setting. The approaches taken will respond to the type of need that is presented, but may draw on cognitive behavioural techniques, mindfulness or narrative therapy approaches for example. Sessions can be offered through small group work or on a one to one basis with children and young people. Speak to your school Educational Psychologist for further information.
Therapeutic group work for children and young people
Read this example of a therapeutic support group delivered in a Devon Primary School.
Mindfulness is the moment-by-moment awareness of our experience that involves accepting – with curiosity and kindness – anything that arises (thoughts, emotions, external stimuli, etc.) Thousands of research studies have shown that cultivating mindfulness is associated with a variety of positive outcomes for both pupils and staff. Specific benefits include: reduced stress and anxiety, greater emotional regulation, improved sleep, enhanced concentration and attention and greater self-esteem. We can provide training packages for staff on mindfulness and mindfulness interventions for groups of young people. Please contact Sam Houlson for further information.
The overcoming programme
The Overcoming Programme is a guided Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) programme for parents of anxious children. It involves eight sessions for parents, four of which are conducted face to face and four of which are delivered by telephone. Parents are required to read relevant chapters from the accompanying book titled, ‘Overcoming Your Child’s Fears and Worries’ (Cathy Creswell & Lucy Willetts, 2007). The aim of the programme is for parents to become anxiety management experts who can continue to use the strategies that they have learned to help their child after the sessions have finished. It also means that children do not have to miss school or other activities to attend sessions.
A number of NHS CAMHS services now use the Overcoming Programme as their first line treatment for childhood anxiety disorders. Recent research trials suggest that the Overcoming Programme is at least as effective, if not more effective, than many comprehensive CBT interventions delivered one to one with a child. Through agreement with the child or young person’s school, Educational Psychologists are able to deliver these sessions to parents.
Story-stems play-based assessment
Infants are dependent on adults for their survival. Children’s early experience of adults shapes their beliefs about themselves and the social world. These beliefs form the basis for a range of behaviours which help them to get their needs met. Most children learn to trust adults enough to develop positive friendships and to engage in learning. Some children may have developed behaviours that present significant levels of challenge in school. Other children may show a lack of trust in adults.
Story Stems use small world play figures to present a series of play scenarios to the child. The child is invited to ‘show and tell’ what might happen next in the story. This approach can be used over a series of sessions or as part of a wider assessment of a child’s needs. The information gained can give valuable insights into how best to support the child at home and in school.
Story Stems are a way of exploring the beliefs children have about themselves and their social world. This understanding can help adults around the child to:
- understand the reasons behind their behaviour
- identify the unmet needs of the child
- improve their skills for working with the child
- develop alternative beliefs about the world
- help the child to trust adults
- facilitate meaningful discussions with parents and carers
- appreciate the child’s point of view
For further information, please contact Dr Andrew Eaton – Andrew.Eaton@devon.gov.uk.
Support for families can have a considerable impact on school achievement and attainment. Video feedback is one proven method of support. Families involved with video feedback report:
- increased feelings of confidence and skill
- increased positive behaviour from their child
- increased awareness of factors that promote positive relationships
- increased understanding of their child
- greater ability to identify what works and do more of it
The EPs service can offer Video feedback to schools for targeted families. The EP works with the parents/carers recording interactions between them and their children. The footage is psychologically analysed and specific footage, guided by psychological models relating to attunement and communication, are focused upon during feedback. The video feedback is aimed at encouraging parents to identify their thoughts and feelings about what they’ve seen, to think about what their child is feeling and help parents think about how they can build on the positives and set goals for the future. Please contact Louise Goodchild for further information.
Solution focused coaching
There is strong evidence that coaching has a positive impact on teaching and learning, emotional well-being and that it builds capacity for change in schools. Coaching has a wide range of applications and can be used not only with teachers but with children and young people.
Many teachers and students feel stuck with their development. Training and teaching alone often fails to bring about the change required. Coaching identifies clear outcomes for the individual, what works well and how to move forward. As well as focusing on a person’s strengths, skills and attributes, it also addresses issues of confidence, motivation and identity which are often significant barriers to development.
The Devon Coaching Team is made up of experienced Educational Psychologists and Advisory Teachers, all with a wide range of experience in educational Solution Focused Coaching.
The team offers:
- coaching training to schools and those working with young people
- direct coaching for school staff either on an individual basis or as part of a school development initiative
- coaching with children, young people and families
We offer personalised and flexible training packages that introduce Solution Focused Coaching in a relevant and useful way. Training can be focused on coaching with adults or developing coaching skills to work with children and young people. We have a range of courses ranging from workshops, to 3 day courses. We regularly develop bespoke training to meet the needs of the setting.
Direct coaching for school staff
We offer coaching opportunities for teachers, teaching assistants and leadership teams. This can be offered on an individual basis or with small groups.
Direct coaching is regularly requested by schools. We have worked individually with head teachers, senior leaders, teachers and groups of teaching assistants. This usually involves several individual/group coaching sessions over a period of time.
In addition to individual coaching, we also offer coaching as a whole school or department development opportunity. In this case all individuals in a school, department or specific group are offered an individual coaching session. Following the sessions group themes are identified. Themes include strengths, resources, qualities, good practice, joint vision and developmental goals. Themes are presented to the group who then have a group coaching session to explore outcomes needed for progress and ways forward.
Coaching for children, young people and families
We offer coaching opportunities for children, young people and families. Coaching can take place individually with children or in groups and can focus on raising achievement and on supporting social and emotional development. We have worked with many children and young people, sometimes one session is all that is required and sometimes we offer a series of sessions, usually between 4-6.
We also offer family coaching sessions. In these sessions we meet with a parent or members of a family for a group coaching session. When appropriate the child and/or a member of the school staff are also invited. Family coaching is particularly appropriate when members of the family have expressed concern about their child within the home setting or have requested support.
- Matt Jones by email Matt.Jones@devon.gov.uk or call 01392 287239.
- Catherine Dunnett by email Catherine.Dunnett@devon.gov.uk or call 01392 287319.
Collaborative problem-solving approaches
Educational Psychologists regularly facilitate structured problem-solving sessions, aimed at promoting positive outcomes for children and young people. More information regarding these approaches is outlined below.
Circle of adults
The circle of adult’s intervention is a problem solving approach where the Educational Psychologist works with key adults in the school. The aim is to build an in-depth perspective of the emotional needs that underlie challenging behaviours and to agree strategies that promote the wellbeing and inclusion of children with complex needs. The approach provides staff support and has been positively evaluated in a range of settings, including primary, secondary and special schools. Find out more about circle of adults.
A solution circle is a systematic 30 minute session that is led by an Educational Psychologist as the process facilitator. It involves a small group of adults, one of which is the ‘problem presenter’ who has a problem that needs a way forward or solution. It follows a set structure and aims to use the resources, ideas and expertise within the group to develop positive solutions with the problem that is presented.
Find out more about solution circles.
Person-centred approaches have gained increased recognition in schools since the publication of the 2014 SEND Code of Practice. A recent study* has suggested a number of ways to ensure the effective use of this approach, including:
- the skill level, capacity and availability of lead staff
- the level of training and ongoing supervision provided to lead staff
- the strength of relationships and collaborative skills within the group
- the quality of communication between settings and agencies
- the ability to elicit the genuine voice of the child or young person
Educational Psychologists are able to offer support in all these areas and to lead person-centred planning (PCP) meetings. There are already a variety of PCP models, including the MAPS and PATH models, one page profiles, Personal Futures Plans, Essential Lifestyle Plans and Support Plans. We are able to discuss the most appropriate approach and adapt this to the needs of the young person and their family as well as other stakeholders as part of an assess – plan – do – review cycle.
Find out more about person-centred planning.
* Corrigan, E. (2014). Person centred planning ‘in action’: exploring the use of person centred planning in supporting young people’s transition and reintegration to mainstream education. British Journal of Special Education, Vol. 41 (3), 268-288.
How the educational psychology service can be accessed
All Devon maintained schools and academies have a named Educational Psychologist. Regular meetings are held with school staff to determine priorities and to plan how the Educational Psychologist’s time will be best used in the school. Therefore, the service is usually accessed through key school staff, for example the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) or the Head Teacher. However, the Educational Psychology Service can also be contacted directly email: email@example.com
Always helpful and cooperative in relation to particularly challenging issues. Very flexible and always up-beat, and therefore a please to spend time with.