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.
The Society provides a number of Standards and Guidelines to assist and inform its members in regards to most aspects of their professional practice.
Society members also have access to a wealth of resources, including the British Journal of Educational Psychology. This and other journals can be viewed for free via PsychSource.
Role of the Educational PsychologistShow content
What does an Educational Psychologist in Scotland do?
Educational Psychologists in Scotland aim to improve the life chances of all. In fulfilling this aim the role of the educational psychologist is varied in regard the activities engaged in, the focus of work and the populations being worked with/alongside. This variability is one of the frequently cited reasons why Educational Psychologists in Scotland enjoy their job.
The work of Educational Psychologists is extensive, covering mainstream and special sectors relating to teaching and learning, behaviour and development. Work is carried out with, or for children and young people aged 0-24 years, parents and carers, educational establishments, education management, as well as a range of agencies, such as social work services and health.
All Educational Psychologists are expected to conform to the standards exemplified in The BPS (British Psychological Society) Code of Ethics and Conduct (2009). Educational psychologists must also be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
The majority of Educational Psychologists working in Scotland are employed by the Local Authority Educational Psychology Service or Psychological Service. There is a statutory duty on every education authority in Scotland to provide a psychological service for their area. Educational Psychology Services contribute to local and national priorities. Broad aims of services include enhancing social inclusion, social and emotional well-being of young people and families, and raising attainment.
The 5 core functions of a Psychological Service were defined by the SEED as:
Furthermore, the core functions performed by Educational Psychologists were identified as being carried out at the following levels:
- Child and Family
- Educational Authority/Council/National
- School or Establishment
Assessment is a process that involves the gathering of information from a variety of sources in a range of settings over a period of time. It necessarily involves parents, carers, teachers, and children and young people. The purpose of assessment is to inform future intervention and therefore it encompasses cognitive, emotional and social factors. The ultimate aim of effective Educational Psychology assessment is to limit the effects of barriers to learning and to promote inclusion of the child or young person. Assessment may be based on direct or indirect involvement with the child and by a combination of both. Information gathered from others may be supplemented by approaches including classroom observation, analysis or work, questionnaires, curriculum-based assessment and use of recognised assessment tools where appropriate. Educational Psychologists in Scotland operate in accordance with current practice as summarised in Educational Psychology Assessment in Scotland (2014), compiled on behalf of ASPEP (Association of Principal Educational Psychologists) and SDEP) the Scottish Division of Educational Psychology).
Educational Psychologists provide a wide range of advice and consultancy to service users and educational establishments. They advise and support education management in relation to children and young people with additional support needs. Consultation around individual or groups of children and young people has the aim of promoting inclusion for all. Many Educational Psychology Services work through a consultation model of service delivery, which is a collaborative, preventative, problem solving approach. By working with and through the main people involved, in order to facilitate change, Educational Psychologists use psychology to empower others to solve problems.
Educational Psychologists offer a wide range of evidence-informed interventions to service users in relation to individual, or groups of, children and young people with additional support needs. Effective interventions aim to foster collaborative working and the sharing of professional skills.
Examples of interventions carried out by Educational Psychologists include: contributions to local-authority wide interventions (solution-oriented approaches, motivated schools, alternatives to exclusion, promoting inclusion), contribution to whole establishment interventions (raising achievement, anti-bullying, promoting positive playgrounds), contribution to devising behaviour management and individual education plans and working with small groups.
Intervention methods are based on best practice and conform to the British Psychological Society's Code of Ethics and Conduct. Interventions are carefully planned and implemented on the basis of agreed action plans. They are designed to be effective but also minimal, unobtrusive, efficient and equitable, and should co-ordinate with work being done by colleagues from other professions.
A growing area of the Educational Psychologists core work is that of research. Research is a main strand of all psychology disciplines and an Educational Psychologist’s training has a large focus on experimental design both in clinical and real world settings, research methodologies, data collection and analysis. Working within education, Educational Psychologists are in a key position to support and carry out research to evolve an evidence base for educational practice, inform policy and strategy, explore new ideas and to evaluate and encourage reflective practice.
Educational Psychologists are well placed to offer and support training to a range of service providers and educational establishments. Training offers an opportunity for educational psychologists to support others in linking research and psychological theory with practice. Educational Psychologists have knowledge of learning, behaviour and development of children and young people as well as an understanding of the systems they are working in including the local and national contexts and policy and legislative frameworks. Training should be based on assessment of the needs of the learners to identify the most appropriate training and the most suitable way of conveying information. It should be evaluated and followed-up in order to facilitate the utilisation of newly acquired information and skills in practice.
Work Carried out by Educational Psychologists
The majority of Local Authority Educational Psychology Services have websites which provide more specific details about the work carried out locally, and the structure of the Service. A number of Services highlight the following as being central to the practice of Educational Psychologists:
- Adopting a child-centred approach
- Adopting a “most effective, least intrusive” approach to assessment and intervention
- Collaboration – with other professionals, families and children and young people
- Confidentiality and ethics
- Promoting and enhancing effective learning and teaching
- Promoting and enhancing emotional / psychological well-being
- Promoting social justice
- Promoting and supporting inclusion for all
- Supporting children and young people to achieve their potential
- Supporting children and young people to fulfill the goals of Curriculum for Excellence
- The use of evidence to inform and innovate
Examples of Educational Psychology practice include:
- Building resilience in children
- Community psychology approaches
- Enhancing emotional wellbeing and emotional literacy
- Supporting the development of nurturing approaches and inclusion
- Supporting vulnerable learners with transitions
- Thinking skills work around mindsets
- Use of positive psychology in interventions
- Working to support difficulties in relation to attachment and loss
- WOWW: working on what works, to improve classroom behaviour and relationships
Accredited courses & training programmes
Accreditation through partnership is the process by which the Society works to ensure that quality standards in education and training are met.
The Society accredits undergraduate, postgraduate and conversion courses.
Becoming an Educational Psychologist in Scotland
Educational Psychology Services
Educational Psychologists are typically employed by a Local Authority, Educational Psychology Service or Psychological Service accredited by the SDEP.
Pay and conditions are negotiated in Scotland by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT).
Qualification in Educational Psychology (Scotland)
The Qualification in Educational Psychology (Scotland) (QEP(S)) offers the independent route to completion of stage 2 training for those who are employed as educational psychologists (probationers).
Standards for Placements for Trainee Educational Psychologists in Psychological Services in Scotland
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