Major Shake-Up of Educational Psychology Services Planned

Article excerpt

Byline: By ALED BLAKE Western Mail

A fundamental rethink is needed into educational psychology provision in Wales, according to an official report. A review of educational psychology provision, commissioned by the Westminster Government, has recommended a change in the way services are delivered.

The research, conducted by the School of Education at the University of Manchester, was commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills, as part of an initiative to improve children's services.

Because the Assembly Government is carrying out a similar review, called Rights to Action, it requested Manchester's researchers include Wales in the report.

The researchers analysed data from over 1,000 respondents, including teachers, local authority officers, parents, pupils, mental health professionals, youth offending teams and many others in Wales and England.

Professor Peter Farrell who led the project said, 'Eighty eight per cent of parents rated the contribution made by the educational psychologist who assessed their child to be 'helpful' or 'very helpful'.

'The vast majority of responders felt that the work of EPs brought direct benefits to children.

'However, the overwhelming view was that EPs have been too heavily involved in the statutory assessment of children with special educational needs, and that this has not been a good use of their valuable time.

'A substantial number of respondents suggested that another professional, such as an assistant EP or clinical psychologist or a specialist school teacher, could be able to carry out some aspects of the EP's work. However, there was a widely-held view that the forthcoming restructured and extended initial training for EPs would improve the range and expertise of the services that they could offer.'

Prof Farrell called for the possible merger of the professions of educational and clinical psychologists. …