Career as an educational psychologist
Rachel Cooper works as an educational psychologist for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Her work involves helping children and young people with a range of problems that affect their ability to learn.
How would you describe your career as an educational psychologist?
My work involves tackling the problems encountered by children and young people in education. These may range from emotional and social problems to learning difficulties. The aim is to enhance learning and raise achievement. I work directly with teachers, parents and individual children.
How are children and young people referred to you?
I work very closely with ten schools: one secondary school, eight primary schools, one of which has an integrated provision for deaf children, and one nursery school. Teachers identify pupils who need my support.
Some children attend residential or special schools in different education authorities. I also work with children with special educational needs who are under five years of age and not yet at school.They are referred by a wide range of healthcare professionals such as health visitors or speech and language therapists.
What help can you give?
My work involves assessing the child's strengths and difficulties and also their learning environment. I work with parents, teachers and the child to find solutions. For example, I may be helping a child to improve reading and spelling skills. As well as agreeing targets with the child I work closely with their teacher to set up support in class.
Do you work with teachers as well?
Yes. I have the opportunity to contribute to school improvement. For example, I have worked with other educational psychologists and specialist teachers to provide guidelines to help other people on how to work with children who have specific learning difficulties. I also provide training for school staff on specific topics such as how to deal with bullying or behaviour management.
What hours do you work?
I work 35 hours a week on a flexitime system. The actual hours can vary quite a lot. For example, if I have to finish a report by a particular deadline I will work late.
Where do you work?
I am based in an office but I spend a lot of my time working in a wide range of other settings. As well as working in schools, I make home visits to children who are under five. When I work with healthcare professionals, I may go to their office to do the assessment with the young person. I also attend meetings with other people which can be at a variety of venues.
What qualities make a good educational psychologist?
Good communication skills are vital as you regularly deal with people of all ages and a wide range of abilities. Problem solving skills are also important. You must be able to help people think differently and creatively about situations, for example, instead of concentrating on a child's problems, educational psychologists look for a child's strengths and skills and use those to build solutions.
Rachel's route to her career as an educational psychologist
- A levels.
- BSc Psychology.
- Worked as a learning support assistant in a secondary school.
- PGCE (postgraduate certificate of education) secondary (11-18) in social science (one year)
- Teacher in a secondary school for three years.
- Certificate for teachers working with pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties (one year part-time whilst teaching)
- MSc Educational Psychology (one year)
Educational psychologist tips
- A level psychology gives you the chance to study the subject and find out whether it appeals to you before committing to a degree course.
- Any work experience in schools or with children is helpful.
Educational psychologist salary
Trainee Educational Psychologists Salary
Assistant Educational Psychologists Salary
Educational Psychology salary pay scale A
Points 9-11 are for structured professional assessment salary pay extensions.
Discretionary educational psychology pay scales are 1-6, 2-7 or 3-8. This replaces the previous additional discretionary pay scale points.
Senior / Principal Educational Psychology pay scale B
3 = Normal starting point for a Principal Educational Psychologist carrying out full range of duties for this level.
14-18 Extension to range to accommodate discretionary scale points and structured professional assessments.
London Pay Allowances for an educational psychologist
- Inner London £2,903
- Outer London £1,914
- Fringe Area £740
How to become an educational psychologist
- To be an educational psychologist you must hold an honours degree in psychology, or equivalent, accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).
- In England,Wales or Northern Ireland you also need a minimum of one years full time experience of working with children and young people up to the age of 20.
- A full time doctoral professional training course in Educational Psychology (3 years).
- In Scotland you do not need teaching experience. Instead you need an MSc in Educational Psychology, which requires two years' full-time study in Scotland, followed by one year's supervised practice as an educational psychologist. Alternatively you could complete three years of full-time study for the BPS's Diploma in Educational Psychology.
Educational psychologist related jobs
- Clinical psychologist
- Education welfare officer
- Teacher of special educational needs
- Youth and community worker
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