Educational Psychologist

Local council educational psychology services promote learning, attainment and the healthy emotional development of children and young people aged 0 to 19, through the application of psychology.  Educational psychologists offer assessment, advice and support to parents, young people and teachers where there is concern about the development, learning or behaviour of children and young people.  Educational psychologists usually have responsibility for providing support to a number of different schools in an area.  They are employed by all local authorities except district councils.
Work Environment
Most educational psychologists spend the majority of their time working in schools and other educational settings.  They also spend some time at the council offices.
Normal working hours are 37 per week, but it might sometimes be necessary to work evenings and weekends.
Daily Activities
Educational psychologists work in nurseries, schools, colleges and special education units with children and their families, teachers, other local authority officers and other agencies.  Their aim is to enhance children's learning and enable teachers to understand children's psychological problems and meet any additional support needs they may have.  Educational psychologists encounter a range of issues in their work.  Some children have learning difficulties in reading and writing, others have social and/or emotional problems, which lead them to be disruptive in the classroom.  Others have specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia.  Sometimes educational psychologists might meet very gifted children who have problems dealing with parents' or teachers' expectations of them.  An educational psychologist will look at a young person's needs both at school and at home.  Educational psychology assessment can involve working directly with children and/or indirectly with teachers and parents.

Direct work involves:  

  • observing a child's behaviour at school - both in the class and in the playground;
  • speaking directly to a child;
  • testing a child to check on skills and intellectual development.

Indirect work involves:

  • discussing the child with their parents, teachers and others who know them well;
  • reviewing work the child has done at school;
  • consulting with other professionals such as social workers and medical professionals.

Once the assessment is done, recommendations are made for further action such as:

  • counselling or family therapy sessions;
  • planning learning programmes with teachers;
  • training teachers in techniques to deal with behavioural problems.

Educational psychologists also play a vital role in a local council's development of education policy and are involved in policy review, development and roll out.  They are also often engaged with multi-agency working groups to develop policy and carry out strategic research and planning activities on both a local and national level.

Skills & Interests
Educational psychologists need:

  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to build relationships with children, parents and teachers;
  • a commitment to helping young people overcome learning and behavioural difficulties;
  • good problem-solving skills;
  • sensitivity, tact and patience;
  • good report writing and organisational skills;
  • an ability to adapt to changing and challenging work situations;
  • excellent research and development skills;
  • excellent knowledge of current research, theory and evidence based practice in Psychology.

Entry Requirements
It is essential to have a degree in psychology that gives you the graduate basis for registration of the British Psychological Society (BPS), relevant experience of working with children within educational, childcare or community settings and three years doctoral training in educational psychology, which combines study at a university and practical experience within a local council.

The following institutions in England and Wales run the doctorate in educational psychology:

Future Prospects & Opportunities
There is a clear promotion path from assistant level through to principal educational psychologist.  In addition, there might be management opportunities within other areas of the local council's education and children's services department.

Further Information & Services
British Psychological Society
Department of Education
New Scientist
Psychology Today
The Psychologist

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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