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About educational psychology

Our educational psychology service provides services to:

  • children and young people aged 0-19
  • families
  • schools
  • pre-school settings
  • officers of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council. 

Educational psychologists understand how children and young people think, learn, feel and behave. They have a higher degree in educational psychology and have experience in the practical application of psychology to children and schools.

Each school has an entitlement to time from the Educational Psychology Service. How this is used is negotiated with each individual school, but typically we:

  • assess the psychological needs of children within an educational context
  • plan and advise on appropriate educational programmes and types of educational placement
  • monitor and evaluate programmes
  • advise schools on the ways that their organisation can develop to enhance the psychological well being of their pupils
  • research and evaluate good practice
  • provide training to teachers and others who work with children and young people.

All of the above also takes place in pre-school settings. However, before statutory school age psychologists tend to work more with individual children.

School consultation and training

We work with schools in many different ways. During our regular visits, as well as individual assessments, we try to prevent problems arising by providing advice about children and how to prevent difficulties by consultation and/or training.

When problems do arise about a particular child or group of children, we will try to find out why the difficulties are occurring. We do not always need to see the child in order to help. We may be able to make suggestions on the basis of information provided by other people such as teachers and parents.

We can offer both training sessions specifically designed for a particular school or situation, and more general courses on issues relating to:

  • behaviour
  • anger management
  • social skills
  • learning
  • ways that schools can help youngsters with various medical diagnoses.

Additionally we are involved in training courses for pre-school workers and teaching assistants.

Individual assessments

One way that psychologists’ time can be used is to carry out an individual assessment on a child or young person. This might involve:

  • the use of various types of tests
  • a structured conversation around the problems perhaps using techniques such as solution focused brief therapy
  • an exploration of what the young person’s views are and how they relate to other people’s perception of the problem.

With younger children assessment is often play based, and at all ages observation in class or other groups may be important.

We try to produce practical and realistic recommendations for the young person, their parent or care-giver and for the school. We do not see children or young people without explicit agreement from parents or carers and we are always happy to talk to all the adults involved.

If there are concerns about a youngster in nursery or playschool, referral is possible either direct to the educational psychologist or to them via one of the pre-school services.

If you want a psychologist to work with your child

Contact your school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENco). They will complete a planning form, which you’ll need to sign.

Other council services may also be able to request our help on your behalf. 

Statutory assessment

When we carry out a statutory assessment under the Education Act 1996, an educational psychologist must see the child or young person as part of the process.

The actual assessment is usually very similar to that done if the person was seen as a matter of course in school.

On the rare occasions when a parent agrees with us that the best way forward is a Special Educational Needs Tribunal, the psychologist is normally one of our witnesses.

Work with other agencies

We work closely with children and young people who are looked after and their carers. We also spend time with the medical services on issues related to young people with mental health issues and with various agencies on issues relating to Asperger's syndrome and autism. Additionally, when other services are involved with the child or family we will liaise with them.