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Educational psychology information for parents

How educational psychology can help

Educational psychologists understand how people think, feel and behave and are trained teachers. They have:

  • a minimum of 2 years teaching experience
  • a higher degree in educational psychology
  • experience in the practical application of psychology to children and schools.

Many children have problems with their development and learning at some point in their lives. Most improve with the help of their families, their schools and their friends.

We visit all the schools in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and can offer additional advice if schools or families are having difficulty helping their child to improve. Our job is to assess the needs of children in this situation and advise their parents, school or the borough about the best way to help them.

We usually assess a child or young person in school. Depending on what the problem is, we might do some or all of the following:

  • we will always discuss the issues with someone who knows them well
  • observe them in their classroom or playground
  • look at some of their school work
  • speak to the child to try to understand their view of the problem
  • test to check on the child's skills and/or intellectual development
  • work with the child to produce some possible solutions.

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. As we are in the school on a regular basis, we can see how the child responds to what we have recommended.

We can offer parents suggestions about how they can help their child's development and learning.

The advice that we offer to teachers is usually to suggest ways to:

  • improve a child's learning or behaviour
  • help children with learning or behavioural difficulties to cope with their work in class.  

When an educational psychologist might get involved

Most problems are dealt with by the school. If the school thinks that a child or young person might have special educational needs of some sort they will first of all discuss the issues and what steps might be taken with the parents or carers.

If the concerns persist once action has been taken then the school might ask the parents or carers if they feel that a referral to the educational psychologist might help.

The school will be able to explain just what they are hoping to get from the involvement of the educational psychologist. Additionally we are always prepared to talk to parents before any assessment is carried out. We only carry out assessments with the agreement of parents or carers.

We can also be asked to carry out a more formal assessment, a Statutory Assessment, of your child's special educational needs by the borough. This usually only occurs when the child has received intervention through the procedures set out in the Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs that tells schools what action they need to take.

If this formal assessment is carried out, we will be one of the people who advise about the child's needs. You have a right to be involved during the assessment of your child.

If possible, we always like to meet parents or carers, usually after the assessment, though it can sometimes be helpful to meet beforehand.

As assessments are made during school time, we appreciate that it is not always possible for parents or carers to get time off work to meet with us.

We are happy to speak on the phone if this is easier. You will be sent a copy of any written record of involvement that goes to the school.

Educational psychologists would only wish to work with children with the permission and support of their parents. We are happy to discuss any concerns you may have before you make a decision about our involvement.

Direct referrals to the educational psychologist

Very occasionally, parents want the educational psychologist to see their child before the teachers have decided that this is necessary. Usually we ask parents to discuss their concerns further with the school before contacting us directly.

Children in private schools

Private schools do not receive regular visits from the service. However, when parents or carers live within Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, then it is possible for their child to be assessed if appropriate.

The system is exactly the same as that used by local authority schools. Before becoming involved we will need to know what the problem is, and what steps the school has already taken over a period of time to attempt to deal with the situation. Follow-up visits to private schools cannot be made as a matter of routine practice.