An educational psychologist assesses the needs of children and young people in educational and early years settings who have behavioural, learning or emotional problems and treats them with appropriate therapies, counselling or learning support programmes.
You could be:
- assessing a child or young person using a range of methods including interviews, structured observations and psychometric tests
- spending time with individual young people, and perhaps their families or carers, over several appointments
- planning a suitable learning or support programme with teachers and other colleagues
- helping to draw up co-ordinated support plans (CSPs) for children and young people with additional support needs
- advising others on how to implement a support programme or CSP
- attending case conferences and writing reports on the cases
- doing research to explore new ideas, inform policy and evaluate methods
- planning, developing and running training courses for teachers on techniques to help pupils and students with a wide range of learning support needs.
In Scotland, the most recent yearly pay rates for educational psychologists (January 2018) are as follows:
- inductee/probationer: £45,114
- main grade: £46,833 to £57,384
- senior: £60,957
- depute and principal/management: £60,957 to £70,641.
- Most educational psychologists work for local education authorities; but some work in social services, the health sector and in private consultancy.
- You usually work in a child guidance clinic, school or office but you may sometimes visit clients' homes.
- You work regular hours but might sometimes have to go to meetings in the evenings.
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In Scotland, all educational psychologists must be Chartered Members of the British Psychological Society (BPS), or probationers working towards chartered status. They must also be full members of the Scottish Division of Educational Psychology (or the Division of Child and Educational Psychology).
You would normally begin by working towards the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS).
- The first qualification you need is an Honours degree in psychology accredited by the BPS.
- You can get a list of accredited courses from the BPS website (see below).
- To do an Honours degree in psychology you usually need 4-5 Highers.
- It is also possible for graduates with a degree other than psychology to achieve the GBC by completing a ‘conversion’ course accredited by BPS.
- Applicants for conversion courses are expected to have a first or upper second class Honours degree in a science, social sciences or humanities related subject.
- They must also have a minimum of 20 credits in psychology at certificate level (SCQF Level 7) or above.
You then need to complete a postgraduate professional training course accredited by the BPS. In Scotland you would study for the postgraduate MSc in Educational Psychology. This is currently only available at the University of Dundee.
- Applicants need a first or upper second class degree, and a minimum of two years' professional full time work experience with children, young people and families.
- Relevant paid and voluntary work, part time or full time, is taken into account.
- Entry into these 2-year, full time courses is very competitive. Each university recruits applicants every two years, on alternate years.
The next stage is to spend a period of time as an educational psychologist (probationer) doing supervised practice as an employee of a local authority psychological service.
- During this time you work towards the Qualification in Educational Psychology (Scotland) (Stage 2).
- On completion you are eligible for Chartered Membership of the BPS.
- Award holders also apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which is essential to practise as an educational psychologist in the UK.
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
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What Does it Take?
- tact and diplomacy
- sound judgement
- good perception
- strong negotiation and persuasion skills
- excellent communication skills
- listening skills and patience
- organisation and administrative skills.
- Once you have achieved Chartered Membership of the BPS you will continue to learn and train during your career through a programme of Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
- You will need to keep up to date with research on a wide range of conditions and developments in the treatment of these conditions.
- Educational psychologists working in local authorities can work towards the posts of senior or principal educational psychologist.
- You could go on to train as a neuropsychologist by completing the BPS Qualification in Clinical Neuropsychology (QiCN).
- You can also move into research or training other educational psychologists.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
Tel: 0300 500 4472
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards of professional training, performance and conduct in the following health care professions: Arts Therapists; Audiologist; Biomedical Scientist; Chiropodist and Podiatrist; Clinical Scientist; Dietician; Dramatherapist; Occupational Therapist; Operating Department Practitioner; Orthoptist; Paramedic; Physiotherapist; Practitioner Psychologist; Prosthetist and Orthotist; Radiographer; Speech and Language Therapist. (The HCPC may regulate other healthcare professions in the future.) The HCPC website contains a register of all approved courses in the above professions.
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