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Concerns about children and young people's access to educational psychology services in England

11 January 2019

A survey carried out by the British Psychological Society's Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP), reported in today's TES, has shown that the majority of educational psychologists in England are concerned that children and young people are not getting fair access to their services.

The study was undertaken in partnership between the Institute of Educational at University College London and the University of Glasgow, supported by the DECP.

A total of 57 educational psychologists from 29 local authorities in England took part in the survey and the majority reported they don't believe there is fair access to educational psychology services for all children and young people in their local service. Groups highlighted as being particularly at risk included those out of school and those living in poverty.

Significant changes to funding for educational psychology services have been made over recent years and the survey suggested that this has led to some vulnerable groups no longer receiving the services they need.

Concerns were also raised about unfilled vacancies, with over half reporting these within their local service, possibly due to the number of educational psychologists moving into private practice – a fifth of respondents worked exclusively in this sector.

The government recently announced a 25 per cent increase in the number of educational psychologists being trained from 2020, which goes some way to addressing the issues highlighted. 

Sarb Bajwa, Chief Executive of the BPS, said of the announcement:

“This study adds to the growing evidence that many vulnerable children and young people are struggling to access the services they need. It is unacceptable that thousands of children and young people who need help cannot access it.  Failure to help with mental health problems at this stage can lead more serious problems developing.

“We are pleased that the Secretary of State recognised the need to train more educational psychologists, but we question whether the additional funding will be enough to achieve the government’s ambitions. A clearer, more ambitious workforce plan is need across education, health and social care.”

Lead author Vivian Hill, Chair Elect DECP and Programme Director at Institute of Education at University College London Educational Psychology Training, added:

“During the past few years the negative impact of austerity measures on access to educational psychologists has had profound consequences for children, young people and their families.  

“The increase in children’s mental health needs reflects, in part, the absence of early intervention and support. We greatly welcome this clear endorsement of the value of educational psychology and the restoration of the rights of children and young people to access this support.” 

The study was presented at the DECP annual conference taking place this week in Bath.

Read the TES article here.

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