Allocating time to schools

Schools are allocated according to an area system. In each area, the local psychologist is also responsible for work relating to early years establishments.  There will also be direct approaches from parents and carers, and at times young people themselves. Educational Psychologists will work along with other professionals such as Social Work and health, voluntary organisations, Area Principal Teachers and Area Officers to meet the needs of children and young people, following GIRFEC principles.   Also within an area system, each Educational Psychologist has responsibility for any children or young people who are placed in residential provision outwith Argyll and Bute, including children and young people in foster placements.  Such work can be very time consuming, and placements can be made across Scotland.  Work in learning centres will also impact on the time provided to mainstream schools.

Within the allocation of schools, Educational Psychologists divide their time mainly on a roll related basis. Factors such as high clothing grant figures or the presence of a learning centre where pupils are placed from areas beyond the school’s own catchment are also taken into account.

In Argyll and Bute, with its diversity of schools, a simple formulaic approach to school visiting produces anomalies and tends towards becoming a paper exercise.  There is also a need for flexibility in approach to delivering services and stipulating weekly, fortnightly or monthly visits may be counter productive.  Very small schools may have a specific need for intensive involvement at certain times.   

Bearing in mind the need for flexibility to allow the service to be responsive to need, it is possible to provide a broad guide to visiting levels. It must be emphasised that this does not equate to the amount of time that is allocated to the range of work relating to the school and its pupils, only to direct visiting.  Work that frequently takes place beyond direct visits to schools can include preparation of training and support materials, liaising with other agencies, home visits, recording and reviewing assessment information, telephone calls and emails.  In very small or remote schools, the discussion between the Head Teacher and Educational Psychologist may be via video conference or telephone.

Size of schoolVisit frequency

800 pupils or more

1 half day visit per week

300 – 800 pupils

1 half day visit per fortnight

200 - 300 pupils

1 half day visit per three weeks

50 - 200 pupils

1 half day visit per month

50 or fewer pupils

As negotiated based on need, with a minimum of one visit per academic session

As described in the document ‘Schools and the Educational Psychology Service: Working Together’ there is a range of levels at which the Educational Psychologist can intervene to have an impact on positive outcomes for children and young people.  Often the most effective of these is not through direct contact with the pupil.  Educational Psychologists can assist schools to work towards solutions in relation to a range of pupils by calling on their existing psychological knowledge, researching further available information and providing advice on evidenced based approaches.  This kind of work can usefully extend well beyond the group of children or young people with additional support needs with whom Educational Psychologists have generally been involved. Nevertheless, there are pupils for whom schools, and parents/carers legitimately seek direct involvement with the Educational Psychologist. 

Management of the level of casework in any school is the joint responsibility of the Head Teacher or their designated representative and the Educational Psychologist. All requests for intervention should be negotiated and seen in the context of the overall needs of the school.  Critically, the more time that is spent on monitoring or review work related to cases where there has been past involvement, the less time is available for taking on new work.   In many schools there will be a number of children or young people where intervention from the service is possible. A process of prioritisation has to take place. This should not simply be a matter of ranking possible referrals but also one of considering if there may be other ways of managing a contribution from the service.

Further information          

For further information please contact the Principal Educational Psychologist:

Education Services
Psychological Service
Argyll House, Alexandra Parade, Dunoon, PA23 8AJ
Tel: 01369 708537