eduorclinpsych
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Hi all,

Just wondering if there was anyone else out there with the ambition to one day train as and qualify as an Educational Psychologist.

If so, what's your plan to get there?

I've worked as a full-time teacher for numerous years now and I study BSc Psychology part-time alongside this. I didn't opt for a Master's as I wanted to start truly from scratch and have the time to explore different areas in-depth.

Once I complete my BSc I plan on reviewing my situation again. At current, I love my job and may not want to leave it when I finish my BSc. At the same time, I would love to get in some clinical experience and/or assistant educational psychology experience before even considering the Doctorate.

I feel this will put me in a better starting place in comparison to if I were to just finish the BSc and have my years of teaching as experience heading into the Doctorate.

Right now, I have eyes on UCL, UEA or UEL because I enjoy their course focuses/ethos, but again this could change over time.
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Turning_A_Corner
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I considered Ed psych before going for medicine as it’s often something speech and language therapists end up doing. The EPs are highly elusive and we rarely see them tbh but generally the ones I’ve worked with have nearly all been or had involvement with the SENCO if they’re coming from a non-clinical route. Experience of assessment and/or delivering interventions is usually sufficient and your teaching experience alone will count for a lot. I don’t think you need to get an AP job for EP because those roles are even rarer than the EPs themselves. Bear in mind that the SENCO role has expanded so much over the last 10 years or so that EP numbers are reducing because the SENCO has actually taken on a lot of their role (because, like SLTs) they’re much cheaper! There’s definitely a lot of overlap so maybe speak to the SENCO at your school and see what you can get involved in. Or maybe look for a SENCO or assistant SENCO role.
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Lord Asriel
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(Original post by Turning_A_Corner)
Bear in mind that the SENCO role has expanded so much over the last 10 years or so that EP numbers are reducing because the SENCO has actually taken on a lot of their role (because, like SLTs) they’re much cheaper!
Isn't this quite disturbing? I say that as a parent as well as a professional.

When I was a trainee clinical psychologist working in a CAMHS service, I co-worked with a few Ed Psychs in schools and they were really essential in making a difference with kids who were really struggling with and who the rest of the school didn't know what to do with. They made such a difference. I have experience of SENCOs and there is no way some of that work could have been done (no disrespect to them, but they do have different skillsets).

Maybe it is different now, because I know it is harder to get seen at CAMHS then when I used to work there. Or maybe they have skilled up SENCOs to deliver coordinated therapies and conduct detailed assessments. I do hope so for those kids in the current system.
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Turning_A_Corner
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(Original post by Lord Asriel)
Isn't this quite disturbing? I say that as a parent as well as a professional.

When I was a trainee clinical psychologist working in a CAMHS service, I co-worked with a few Ed Psychs in schools and they were really essential in making a difference with kids who were really struggling with and who the rest of the school didn't know what to do with. They made such a difference. I have experience of SENCOs and there is no way some of that work could have been done (no disrespect to them, but they do have different skillsets).

Maybe it is different now, because I know it is harder to get seen at CAMHS then when I used to work there. Or maybe they have skilled up SENCOs to deliver coordinated therapies and conduct detailed assessments. I do hope so for those kids in the current system.
I do find it a bit depressing. It’s something that put me off educational psychology even before I became a speech and language therapist because I realised how rarely EPs got to even see or interact with children. My own son has gone through the entire assessment process for ASD and he has only been seen by an EP once. And I agree, SENCOs vary a lot in quality. One bad SENCO at my son’s nursery delayed his assessment process by up to two years because she insisted there was nothing wrong with him.

The SENCOs in my area of work are often required to have tried several interventions before the EP will even accept a referral. They do a lot of the screens that apparently used to be only completed by an EP. This way the EP only sees the children with the most severe difficulties. A child may get an EHCP without the EP even laying eyes on the child.

This is a pattern that’s affecting speech and language therapy as well. The assistant practitioners and the the teaching assistants do so much of the work that we're basically just consultants a lot of the time, even though it’s not our core business and evidence shows time and again that you need skilled therapists in place to make the biggest gains. I’ve even encountered schools doing speech and language assessments and starting interventions before we’ve even had a chance to assess them and this can be really damaging to the therapy and intervention process because children are bored and inured by the time we get to them. You even see it in adult services where nurses and carers take it upon themselves to do dysphagia interventions without waiting for us to do assessments.

However, schools are trying to work with what very little they have. As is the NHS. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it looks easy therefore it must be easy. And when waiting lists are 6 months long (or a week long in an acute setting) and the EP or the SLT is an increasingly elusive creature I know why they do it. And there’s a lot of cascaded training available now that basically tries to plug the knowledge and skills gap between EPs/SLTs and the teachers/SENCOs.

To be honest I barely see EPs in my role. I don’t think there’s even a referral pathway for SLTs to use. SENCOs basically gatekeep the EP service. And, as I said before, they’re not always the best qualified to do so. Those who are qualified, however, can make a massive difference. There are certain schools I’ve worked with where I can get a referral in, look at the child’s school and I will know instantly that the referral is going to be accepted. I also won’t even have to do some of my usual initial assessments because the equivalent screens will have already been completed and to a high standard. Good SENCOs can be a golden bridge between a school and an underfunded EP services.
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The Pale Dreamer
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There are not fewer EPs - in fact, more are being trained now than 3 years ago. It's still a small number in comparison to clinical psychologists and SALTs that are trained each year and not enough to solve the demand, but there is recognition that more are needed.

The reality is that we are incredibly busy, mostly with statutory assessments for new Education Health and Care Plans. An EP should always be involved in some way with a child with an EHCP, although that may not be until the point of the assessment taking place. The number of those (and appeals) have increased over recent years, and are keeping us very busy. In my area, the SALTs (paediatric ones) are also basically only working with children who have EHCPs, I know they are incredibly busy too and can't service all the demand, the same as us. I have rarely seen a SALT in my work, although I have worked with children who are under a SALT. We see children on a regular basis, but our job is far more extensive than just casework, and we can work at a more systemic level too.

EPs do work through schools and link mostly with SENCos, it's true. And there are definitely schools that are better at doing their own assessments (that they are qualified to do) to identify needs and put strategies in place, and ones that don't (or can't). Projects run by EPs like ELSAs can be really supportive of children with emotional needs, which is done through school staff. The fact is that a lot of strategies need to be embedded throughout the day, and that is not something that an EP can provide. EPs can offer some therapeutic interventions, but do not have the same level of training as clinical psychologists in these without additional training (e.g. CBT, play therapy etc.), so this is not something often offered to schools (and part of that will be because we are so busy). EP services are often traded and as schools pay for that time, they do prioritise children that they want EP involvement for. There are pros and cons for any service delivery model. Where I am based there isn't a referral system between EPs and SALTs, in either direction. Ultimately the people who request our involvement are the ones who will be involved in any work going forward - there needs to be a sense of ownership in regards to the strategies that will be implemented.

CAMHS are similarly overstretched - I've seen many CYPs with significant emotional/mental health needs rejected from them too. I've never worked with clinical psychologists, which is unfortunate as well. Of course therapy is confidential, but strategies and understanding often need to be embedded in the environment (home and school mostly).

Basically, there is a significant lack of funding in all these areas supporting children and young people (and by extension, schools).
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Turning_A_Corner
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(Original post by The Pale Dreamer)
There are not fewer EPs - in fact, more are being trained now than 3 years ago. It's still a small number in comparison to clinical psychologists and SALTs that are trained each year and not enough to solve the demand, but there is recognition that more are needed.

The reality is that we are incredibly busy, mostly with statutory assessments for new Education Health and Care Plans. An EP should always be involved in some way with a child with an EHCP, although that may not be until the point of the assessment taking place. The number of those (and appeals) have increased over recent years, and are keeping us very busy. In my area, the SALTs (paediatric ones) are also basically only working with children who have EHCPs, I know they are incredibly busy too and can't service all the demand, the same as us. I have rarely seen a SALT in my work, although I have worked with children who are under a SALT. We see children on a regular basis, but our job is far more extensive than just casework, and we can work at a more systemic level too.

EPs do work through schools and link mostly with SENCos, it's true. And there are definitely schools that are better at doing their own assessments (that they are qualified to do) to identify needs and put strategies in place, and ones that don't (or can't). Projects run by EPs like ELSAs can be really supportive of children with emotional needs, which is done through school staff. The fact is that a lot of strategies need to be embedded throughout the day, and that is not something that an EP can provide. EPs can offer some therapeutic interventions, but do not have the same level of training as clinical psychologists in these without additional training (e.g. CBT, play therapy etc.), so this is not something often offered to schools (and part of that will be because we are so busy). EP services are often traded and as schools pay for that time, they do prioritise children that they want EP involvement for. There are pros and cons for any service delivery model. Where I am based there isn't a referral system between EPs and SALTs, in either direction. Ultimately the people who request our involvement are the ones who will be involved in any work going forward - there needs to be a sense of ownership in regards to the strategies that will be implemented.

CAMHS are similarly overstretched - I've seen many CYPs with significant emotional/mental health needs rejected from them too. I've never worked with clinical psychologists, which is unfortunate as well. Of course therapy is confidential, but strategies and understanding often need to be embedded in the environment (home and school mostly).

Basically, there is a significant lack of funding in all these areas supporting children and young people (and by extension, schools).
I think it may vary by area. In my area EP services have been cut and streamlined so that the EPs only really work with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities in the child development centre and in CAMHS. In schools themselves the numbers have reduced. It used to be, apparently only 15 years ago, that they worked closely with the schools and SLT services and ran caseloads rather like SLTs do and we were able to collaborate with them a lot more but because the SENCOs basically have taken on more of the responsibilities that EPs used to their service has been restructured around them only seeing the most severe cases. They are definitely the most elusive member of the MDT. My experience as a parent and as a clinician has also been that they’re the least likely member of a team to show up to any kind of meeting and I’ve never been quite sure why. As an MDT we generally work without their input and I think it’s a shame because I would really value the input from an assessment point of view. So many times I’ve assessed a child and I suspect working memory to be a problem but I can’t confirm it and I often feel it would be valuable to get further assessment done on this point so that intervention can be better tailored. The OTs are often pulled in for this and they will often say, well yes we agree but you really need an EP to get in there to really poke around and the absence is felt. There’s a skill and knowledge gap for certain when the EP isn’t there. On placement I’ve seen EPs much more fully integrated so I know that it can be done well. When it feels like it’s motivated more by cost cutting than good practice it hurts!

I think overall numbers of EPs working in the public sector may have also dropped due to the fact that so many have gone or choose to go 100% private. An EP can make a clean £200 an hour and £1000 per report. I don’t blame them at all for going with that, I really don’t, given the shocking state of CAMHS services’ funding in so many areas. But I think nationally there is still something of a shortage with respect to the demand.
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The Pale Dreamer
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Yes there is a lot of local variation in terms of how EP services manage their delivery. A lot of services are short-staffed, so that can impact on how much work EPs are able to do as well. Interesting that in your area they seem to be working primarily in clinics - most EP work I've seen is based in and with schools (although that is not where the offices are normally located). I think you're right that most EP services can't have caseloads in the same way and see children multiple times - usually my involvement is a one-off, although schools can request further support if they need it. Often they don't though.

With your example of working memory - firstly, you don't need a proper memory assessment to put things in place to manage working memory difficulties, the same as you don't need a diagnosis of autism to support a child with those types of need, or a diagnosis of ADHD to use strategies to support attention. If you have evidence that a child might benefit from those sorts of strategies, then use them. Obviously sometimes a diagnosis can open doors in terms of support, but that can still be something that is utilised in the meantime. And secondly, we aren't the only professionals who can do those sorts of assessments - clinical psychologists can do them as well, although of course they are also incredibly busy.

Yes there are definitely more EPs working privately than there used to be a few years ago, although I don't know how the number of EPs working in the public sector has been affected. But there are definitely EPs working in LAs across the country from my knowledge. Schools are often paying for LA services now that they are traded though, so not necessarily different in that respect to working privately in terms of how schools access them, although cost may differ
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Turning_A_Corner
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(Original post by The Pale Dreamer)
Yes there is a lot of local variation in terms of how EP services manage their delivery. A lot of services are short-staffed, so that can impact on how much work EPs are able to do as well. Interesting that in your area they seem to be working primarily in clinics - most EP work I've seen is based in and with schools (although that is not where the offices are normally located). I think you're right that most EP services can't have caseloads in the same way and see children multiple times - usually my involvement is a one-off, although schools can request further support if they need it. Often they don't though.

With your example of working memory - firstly, you don't need a proper memory assessment to put things in place to manage working memory difficulties, the same as you don't need a diagnosis of autism to support a child with those types of need, or a diagnosis of ADHD to use strategies to support attention. If you have evidence that a child might benefit from those sorts of strategies, then use them. Obviously sometimes a diagnosis can open doors in terms of support, but that can still be something that is utilised in the meantime. And secondly, we aren't the only professionals who can do those sorts of assessments - clinical psychologists can do them as well, although of course they are also incredibly busy.

Yes there are definitely more EPs working privately than there used to be a few years ago, although I don't know how the number of EPs working in the public sector has been affected. But there are definitely EPs working in LAs across the country from my knowledge. Schools are often paying for LA services now that they are traded though, so not necessarily different in that respect to working privately in terms of how schools access them, although cost may differ
We generally do go with a “do what works” strategy. The thing is, when you’ve got a child where an intervention isn’t working and it’s not quite clear why and you suspect that there’s something more cognitive or more of a learning difficulty going on where you feel the psychologist’s opinion would be valuable. Or when you want to get an idea of how a child’s language ability compares to cognition or general learning...we make a lot of assumptions on these things or guesses and I think they’re often inaccurate and it can do children a disservice sometimes.
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Lord Asriel
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One thought. Not sure if you have a nearby DClinPsy course, but one possible opportunity may be to approach them and offer them a chance for their trainees to practice their neuropsychological assessment skills with the kids in your service. Trainees will need to complete specific competencies, and as CAMHS and CMHTS are deluged with therapy work, they may need more straightforward (adult and Child) neuro cases to train on to fulfil their requirements. They will be closely supervised by a qualified Clinical Psych and often really keen to do a thorough job.

As most of the CAMHS work was with specific mental health issues and treated with therapy, I found it hard to get enough cases to train on for WISCs, ADHD/ TEA-CHs and Memory tests, so it would have been really helpful to have a pool of ready possibles.
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Turning_A_Corner
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(Original post by Lord Asriel)
One thought. Not sure if you have a nearby DClinPsy course, but one possible opportunity may be to approach them and offer them a chance for their trainees to practice their neuropsychological assessment skills with the kids in your service. Trainees will need to complete specific competencies, and as CAMHS and CMHTS are deluged with therapy work, they may need more straightforward (adult and Child) neuro cases to train on to fulfil their requirements. They will be closely supervised by a qualified Clinical Psych and often really keen to do a thorough job.

As most of the CAMHS work was with specific mental health issues and treated with therapy, I found it hard to get enough cases to train on for WISCs, ADHD/ TEA-CHs and Memory tests, so it would have been really helpful to have a pool of ready possibles.
Interestingly enough, we did get a request in about a year ago when a few trainee CPs were struggling to get some things done do to the lockdown. But they were directed to the specialist neurodevelopmental and neurorehab facility to do their pick ups, I assume because that’s where the supervision was.

It would be great if we could just dip into a pool of trainee CPs that way. But they’re a previously guarded resource in our trust. I think the only rarer sighting than an EP is a CP!
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The Pale Dreamer
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(Original post by Lord Asriel)
One thought. Not sure if you have a nearby DClinPsy course, but one possible opportunity may be to approach them and offer them a chance for their trainees to practice their neuropsychological assessment skills with the kids in your service. Trainees will need to complete specific competencies, and as CAMHS and CMHTS are deluged with therapy work, they may need more straightforward (adult and Child) neuro cases to train on to fulfil their requirements. They will be closely supervised by a qualified Clinical Psych and often really keen to do a thorough job.

As most of the CAMHS work was with specific mental health issues and treated with therapy, I found it hard to get enough cases to train on for WISCs, ADHD/ TEA-CHs and Memory tests, so it would have been really helpful to have a pool of ready possibles.
You should tell that to the Community Paeds in my area - the number of times we get asked to do an assessment by them (even though we don't have a referral route through the Comm Paeds). From my placement, it's not just the area I'm in currently. They are often writing that a child's attention skills are due to general learning difficulties and need a full EP assessment...
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