Educational Psychology - The Working Process

The function of an educational psychology service.

The 5 core functions of a Psychological Service were defined by the Scottish Executive Education Department Review of Provision of Educational Psychology Services in Scotland 2000 (Currie Report), as:

  • Consultation
  • Assessment
  • Intervention
  • Training
  • Research and Strategic Development

These functions can be carried out with children, young people and families, with schools or other establishments and with the wider council. Each core function is most effective when built on strong partnership working with families, schools, wider education staff and other agencies such as speech and language therapists, paediatricians, carers and social workers.


Educational Psychologists provide a wide range of advice and consultation to parents and carers, school staff, and partner agencies including colleagues in social work and health. They advise and support education management in relation to children and young people with additional support needs. Within Argyll and Bute, Educational Psychologists provide consultation during regular visits to schools, during review meetings, attendance at joint support groups and involvement in council strategic groups to meet the needs of Argyll and Bute's children.


Assessment is a process that involves the gathering of information from a variety of sources in a range of settings over a period of time. It involves parents, carers and teachers as well as children and young people. The purpose of assessment is to inform interventions to support children and young people and help remove barriers to learning. Assessment may include direct involvement with a child or young person. Information gathered from others may be supplemented by approaches including classroom observation, analysis of work, questionnaires, curriculum-based assessment and use of recognised assessment tools, where appropriate. Educational Psychologists also provide advice on assessment within the context of Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) and to support learning for all children and young people.

ASPEP (Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists) and the SDEP (Scottish Division of Educational Psychologists) have revised the assessment position paper for Educational Psychologists which can be found through the following link:

ASPEP and SDEP Assessment Position Paper (August 2014)


Educational Psychologists offer a wide range of appropriate interventions to help support children and young people. Effective interventions are often built on strong collaborative working and the sharing of professional skills. Interventions could be with individual children and young people, for groups or whole classes in school or be targeted at change at an authority level. Examples of interventions carried out by Educational Psychologists include supporting children and young people with complex needs to achieve their potential in their local school, providing therapeutic intervention, Friends for Life programmes, Homunculi, literacy development and supporting effective transitions. Intervention methods are based on best practice and current research. Interventions should be carefully planned and implemented on the basis of agreed action plans to address an identified need.


Educational Psychologists are well placed to offer and support training to a range of service providers and educational establishments. Training offers an opportunity for Educational Psychologists to support others in linking research and psychological theory with practice. Educational Psychologists have knowledge of learning, behaviour and development of children and young people, as well as an understanding of the systems they are working in including the local and national contexts and policy and legislative frameworks. Training should be based on assessment of the needs of the learners to identify the most appropriate training and the most suitable way of conveying information. It should be evaluated and followed-up to ensure that the training has had the desired impact on practice to make a difference for children and young people. Training is offered on a wide range of topics including attachment and resilience, autism spectrum disorders, solution oriented meetings, the Additional Support for Learning Act and literacy development.

Research and Strategic Development

A growing area of the Educational Psychologists core work is that of research. Working within education, Educational Psychologists are in a key position to support and carry out research to contribute to an evidence base for educational practice, inform policy and strategy, explore new ideas and to evaluate and encourage reflective practice. Educational Psychologists can support schools to evaluate new ways of working and develop effective practice.

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