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Training and staff development


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 that can be booked via Devon Education Services.

Precision training

Precision teaching is a highly structured and systematic intervention that provides a framework for skill development. Educational Psychologists across Devon provide this training to schools and this includes a set of resources and materials so staff are equipped with everything they need to run the intervention.

Who is it for?

The Precision Teaching approach is for children and young people who have not mastered skills (e.g. literacy or numeracy) despite whole class teaching. In many cases, children have also received small group intervention but have not retained the information and struggle to transfer what they learn into their class work.

How does it work?

The Precision Teaching approach ensures that children learn a skill to a mastery level, therefore minimising forgetting and promoting retention of what is being taught. The approach has a core aim in promoting fluency, which is key to mastery learning and the Precision Teaching method provides a way of measuring this objectively. The intervention also incorporates evidence-based psychological principles such as interleaving, distribution and automaticity. It is systematic and provides immediate feedback as to whether the child is making progress with the skill being taught.

Precision Teaching makes the assumption that the child would benefit from a personalised and tailored teaching method and during the intervention, information is gained about how the child learns best.

To find out more, please speak to your link Educational Psychologist or contact us at

The Early Reading Programme

The Early Reading Programme (ERP) has been researched and designed by our Educational Psychologists.
The programme uses a synthetic phonics approach that is designed to teach early word recognition aspects of reading. It teaches what children need to learn in the first stages of reading and spelling and how to teach this most effectively.
The Grapheme to phoneme correspondences (GPCs) taught in the programme are in line with national curriculum expectations for year 1 children and equivalent to phase 5 Letters and Sounds. The order in which GPCs are presented is based on research into their usefulness, ensuring that children learn the most useful /common GPCs first.
The ERP should be taught once or twice daily at a whole class or small group level. Each session comprises:

  • Phoneme Awareness: (two minutes of synthesis skills and two minutes of segmentation skills)
  • Word Reading (two minutes)
  • Word Spelling (two minutes)
  • 100 most common / high frequency / tricky words (two minutes)
  • Four minutes of reading in context or spelling in context (these activities are alternated daily)

In total one ERP session should run for 15 minutes, and employs psychological and evidence based teaching principles such as direct instruction, interleaving, and distributed learning.
At the point of initial training all resources including ERP word packs, activities and assessments are provided. Follow-up observations are also offered to coach practitioners about their delivery after initial training is given.
For more information or to discuss training, speak to your link Educational Psychologist or Michaela Cole –

Sound Spelling Programme

Sound Spelling was put together in response to children finishing the Educational Psychology Early Reading Programme or equivalent (such as Letters and Sounds Phase 5) and needing something else beyond this to help them develop their knowledge of a further set of grapheme-phoneme correspondences for reading and for spelling.  This will typically be children in years 3 or 4 though some children may be ready to access the programme earlier.

The programme’s objective is to ensure that children become accurate and fluent in their knowledge and application of the 192 most common grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs).

Initial results from pilot schools are demonstrating that children make above average progress in both reading and spelling when using the programme.

Sound Spelling can be used as a whole class spelling programme or with small groups for intervention purposes right up to secondary school age.

The Psychology of Learning

As well as having a clear understanding of what children need to learn in order to be able to read, Sound Spelling also embodies many psychological principles regarding how children learn most effectively. These are cumulative learning, little and often, teaching to fluency, direct instruction, developing visual memory as well as phonetic knowledge, collaborative working, application, being structured and systematic, an absence of taught rules and active learning and investigation.

The structure

The programme consists of 26 blocks each containing a new taught element and a revision element. A block generally corresponds to a fortnight although it is important to note that this can be varied. Children vary greatly in their speed of retention and application and we have found that some children need less than a fortnight on a block whereas others require up to three weeks. How this is managed depends on the number of children doing the programme and how you choose to differentiate.
Children participate in an activity every day ranging from 10-20 minutes.
These activities are based on the psychological principles already described and involve a range of tasks designed to develop familiarity with grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs).
Please contact Michaela Cole – – for further information.

Supporting children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse

This session will cover of the impact and signs of exposure to domestic abuse, and explore the key issues or effects of being exposed to abuse.  It will cover suggestions as to how to talk to children about their experiences, and how schools can support children affected by domestic abuse.
Please contact Dr Bryony Curtis – – or Gemma Newbery for further information.

Supporting trans students in schools

This course draws together the perspective of trans students, legal policy, and psychological theory exploring difficulties trans and other LGBTQ+ students report while in education. The aim of the training is to provide staff with a clear understanding of how to support trans students, foster their engagement in education, and develop an inclusive school environment in keeping with legislation and governmental policy.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understanding of the trans spectrum and how this is related (or not) to sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality
  • Guidance on how to link with relevant agencies to support trans students and highlight the current pathway for a diagnosis/intervention
  • Relevant legislative and government policy
  • Help you proactively shape and develop your school policies on: Environmental changes (including changing rooms and gender segregation in general)
  • Bullying (including supporting understanding and acceptance for all students and staff members)
  • Sexual education for students (in keeping with the curriculum)
  • School trips
  • The correct use of names, pronouns, acronyms and key terminology (e.g. dead name- the name a trans student was given at birth, rather than their true name)
  • Explore the role schools play in defining gender differences and how this can be updated to become more inclusive

Examples of training provided

This list is a sample of the training provided by the service:

  • Understanding and Supporting Children with Autism Spectrum Conditions
  • Using Visual Approaches Effectively
  • Using Social Stories
  • Effective Feedback and Questioning
  • Using Solution Focused Approaches
  • Attachment Theory: Implications for Practice
  • Supporting Children who Have Experienced Trauma
  • Understanding Mental Health
  • Understanding Anxiety Based School Avoidance
  • Resilience and Strengths Based Approaches

If you are interested in learning more about a topic not above, contact us or speak to your linked Educational Psychologist.