The Scottish Division of Educational Psychology represents the distinct context of Scotland with its own issues and practice, shaped by separate legislation and policy setting mechanism, and serves to communicate between practising psychologists in Scotland and The British Psychological Society.
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Presentation to the 14th Annual Education and Development Conference BangkokShow content
5th-7th March 2019
At the 14th Annual Education and Development Conference, there were several themes that structured the 3 days.
- Teaching and Learning in an Intercultural Context
- Innovations in Education
- Discrimination and Rights to Education
- Education Systems Around the World
- Neuroscience and Learning Process
The range of countries represented was impressive, but with a definite core audience from Asian countries e.g. Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, China, India etc. There were also delegates from Canada and the USA, but I was the only person from the UK. The background of delegates was largely restricted to academics and teachers.
My presentation was entitled “A Focus on the Development of Nurture in the Scottish Educational Context”. This talk was located under the ‘Education Systems’ heading and sat with other talks e.g. one on the ‘internationalization of Japanese education’ and the ‘organisation of schools in the Philippines’. The first talk highlighted the relative lack of diversity in the demographic make-up of schools in Japan and the issues that this country was having in relation to accommodating different populations who were starting to emigrate into the culture. In particular, the Japanese academic, Professor Akinori Seki, discussed the ageing population of Japan – with 70,000 residents being aged 100 years and above – and the need to build an inclusive culture which welcomed young people in from different cultural backgrounds.
In contrast, the talk that I gave highlighted the large number of languages spoken in Scottish Schools, the different ethnic groups that exist across Scotland as well as the inequity in wealth and the impact that this has on Scottish young people. Most of the presentations that had come before had very little reference to the health and wellbeing of young people, rather there was a clear drive towards raising attainment and how best to achieve this via different pedagogical approaches. The juxtaposition of the concept of nurturing approaches and how this is being rolled out nationally across schools stimulated a lot of questions and discussion about the nature of pedagogy in Scotland.
The audience were also extremely interested in how Educational Psychologists were being used at a strategic and establishment level. Some of the countries didn’t feel that they had an equivalent e.g.
the Philippines, Taiwan etc. and instead had individual counsellors for some schools/universities that worked with many of the young people. Delegates identified that these young people often suffered from anxiety. This was a problem that was seen as pervasive, but participants reflected that it also seen to be something that they, or their management, had not thought about addressing at a systems level.
Although I discussed the targeted approach of Nurture Groups and how this supports young people who come from vulnerable backgrounds, I went on to outline why many schools across Scotland had moved to a more ‘equitable’ model of nurture. That is, ensuring that every young person in an establishment accesses a nurturing environment which has a welcoming ethos and consistency of approach from staff leading to young people experiencing a safe place with adults who can be seen as trusted.
The research that Gail Nowek and I undertook with the support of ASPEP was also debated i.e. the range and spread of nurture across councils in Scotland. From this research, EPs and schools also identified a need which could potentially act as next steps for the profession. It was noted that there is great work, in relation to nurture developments, happening across Scotland, however, there is not a virtual or actual forum where this practice/research can be shared. The delegates were particularly interested in this as they reflected upon their experiences from being in schools and feeling that there were limited opportunities to share practice and talk about emerging trends relating to pupils and teaching. It stimulated more discussion about the anxiety levels of young people and the fact that schools were seeing this profile of need across many countries.
For many of those who asked questions, they had felt it had been an isolated issue in relation to their school. The presentation helped to normalize the stresses and strains that young people feel across society, albeit for different reasons. I would like to take this opportunity to, once again, thank the SDEP for supporting me to attend a conference which was a unique experience, but most importantly aided the dissemination of the message as to how Scotland is supporting its most vulnerable learners. It also allowed the delegates to understand that these practices are occurring at a national level and that Educational Psychologists are at the forefront of this positive and impactful intervention. From the presentation, and informal discussions which took place after the presentation, I felt that those at the conference had a slightly new take on the wellbeing of the young people they work with. Many have asked if they can visit schools in Scotland to learn more! The gap of a practice sharing forum is possibly also something Scottish EPs need to think about.
Maura Kearney Depute Principal Psychologist Glasgow City Council
Subject: Report outlining experiences at the 40th ISPA Conference on Promoting Resilience for Children Toward Life-Long HappinesShow content
Japan, July 2018.
The conference structure was clearly articulated and I was struck by the number of countries which were represented there (45). It was also interesting to hear both the diversity and similarities within which the countries practiced. In attendance were a mixture of practitioners and academics. Perhaps because the theme was Promoting Resilience for Children Toward Life-Long Happiness, most participants had defined resilience in terms of health and wellbeing rather than in terms of learning and teaching. The latter interpretation of resilience was how my own presentation was placed (by building resilience through directly teaching strategies for learning).
I enjoyed sharing my research with my audience who proved to be very interested in my work. They appropriately challenged me on elements including the format of the training and population. I feel there is potential for follow up collaboration. My own presentation could be related most closely with two others which also highlighted that when teaching, it's not necessarily WHAT you do that makes a difference but it's how HOW you do it. Also when promoting effective learning and teaching the teacher's ability to directly teach through clear, reinforced and specific instruction is of paramount importance.
I realised very quickly that one of the main benefits of attending International School Psychologist Association (ISPA) was the networking opportunities that were encouraged. Examples of the partnership working were evident through a variety of channels including developing and sharing resources and collaborative writing projects. Multidisciplinary working was also generally valued. Many challenges that are evident within our Scotland education system were also apparent in other countries and cultures with bullying, non-attendance, a move towards more inclusive practices and adolescent suicide being some of the emerging themes. However there were variations regarding how the Educational Psychologist (EP) worked with capacity building and systemic work being evident in some countries while others focused more on target children using counselling type approaches. The concept of what an EP is for some countries comparatively new while others were well established. Alongside this was varying degrees of positive regard around the added value that wider educational services placed upon the Educational Psychology Services (EPS) with levels of remuneration hugely varying.
The training for EPs also varied; for most a University Masters and Doctorates were necessary while others work experience within the psychoeducational field, in roles including school counsellor, were sufficient. Yet there was huge similarity around the types of function that EPs served with assessment, consultation, interventions and mental health being repeated. Yet for practitioners there appeared less mention of work around training or research. Many attendees/talks mentioned models in line with our model of staged intervention, often described as a teared approach. Furthermore, many of the same intervention resources were mentioned with effective implementation of these being key. Kotter's model of implementation was cited once however on other occasions transformational change was the term used to discuss implementation science and there was acknowledgement that getting an understanding of the beliefs and values of practitioners (EPs and teachers) was essential.
Many presentations offered me opportunities to reflect upon my current knowledge and experience by looking at them through different lenses. For example one excellent presentation spoke about being emotionally focussed for skilled relationship building yet the concepts it discussed were very similar to Dan Hugh's PACE model where you accept whatever the child says. Through the practice tasks within this session I was enabled to feel more confident employing an approach which had felt too difficult.
I learnt about ISPA and its importance especially for those countries who unfortunately do not have strong organisations like the BPS. ISPA aims to affiliate and collaborate with the BPS and there have been good examples of how this has been done successfully with other countries especially in times of crisis. The quality of the keynote speakers was high with varying perspectives on resilience. ACES, Maslow, positive psychology and ensuring children feel safe were concepts which were often considered. The quality of teachers and their personal characteristics was often seen as key. I particularly found discussions around the continuum of relationships interesting where rather than aiming for everyone to always be friends we were instead aiming for peaceful coexistence. Within the theme of resilience there was acknowledgement of the different factors involved. Individual factors, environment factors and the interaction between them were all cited.
Throughout the week I felt inspired and stimulated and left with clear and tangible next steps. These steps include following up the contacts that I have made to hopefully identify areas for further work or investigation. The week of seminars, round table discussions and symposiums challenged me and enlightened me. I enjoyed this experience immensely and will always be regarded as a career highlight. The culture within Japan is very different and this presented opportunities and challenge also. The food was very different and the rail system very complex but the people were unbelievable helpful, polite and kind.
Finally, this experience has made me realise that sometimes as practitioners we forget to acknowledge how good we are at what we do. When I related what other practitioners do in the world with work I have seen or been a part of in Scotland I feel that we have tremendous strengths and that our frameworks and legislation support us in developing high impact work. My impression is that working across our five core functions allows us to work very creatively and dynamically. I also feel that we are particularly good at supporting and challenging our partners, stakeholders and colleagues. Finally, I think that we are very good at measuring impact and embedded evaluation of evidence based approaches. In short this experience made me not only proud to be an Educational Psychologist but made me especially proud of being one trained and practicing within the Scottish context.
Dr Taryn Moir CPsychol AFBPsS Educational Psychologist
SDEP Conference Slides 2019Show content
1 ADHD through a neuropsychology lens.
2 Can building self efficacy mediate the poverty related attainment gap3 Developing a whole-school nurturing approach4 Action Enquiry workshop presentations5 Neuropsychology workshop presentations6 Elephants tea party7 Epilepsy references8 How nurturing is our school
9 Learning through play in P1 using action research to adopt a play-based learning approach
10 Neurosequential model in education
12 Promoting well being in a digital world what can EPs do
13 Pychological factors in improving numeracy
14 READINESS for high school a small group intervention for secondary transition