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Educational psychologists help children and young people (aged up to 19) to overcome learning difficulties and problems with their emotions or behaviour. The work mainly focuses on problems that arise in educational settings.
When working with individuals, educational psychologists:
- make assessments by observing and interviewing the child or young person, as well as using standardised tests
- gather information about a child's progress at school and in other situations
- produce written reports and make recommendations on how to tackle the child's difficulties.
In most cases, the educational psychologist's recommendations are put into practice by other people, particularly teachers, parents, carers and health professionals.
Educational psychologists also:
- provide training for parents, teachers and other professionals on topics such as bullying or behaviour management
- advise schools and education authorities on policies relating to children and young people with special needs and mental health difficulties
- undertake research and help to shape policy.
Educational psychologists usually work between 35 and 37.5 hours a week, from Monday to Friday. They may need to attend evening meetings. Part of their time is spent in offices; they also visit schools and nurseries, run training sessions and attend conferences. A driving licence may be useful.
Salaries for qualified educational psychologists working for local authorities range from around £32,000 a year to £55,000.
In addition to the general skills needed by psychologists, an educational psychologist needs a good understanding of the educational system and the ability to relate to children and young people from a range of backgrounds.
Most educational psychologists in the UK work for local authorities, but there are also opportunities in private practice and with voluntary organisations. Competition for postgraduate training in this field is fierce, but there is a shortage of qualified educational psychologists.
To become a fully-qualified educational psychologist, eligible to register with the Health Professions Council, candidates must qualify by:
- Completing an honours degree in psychology that is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) as giving eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC).
- Gaining relevant work experience with children and young people before applying to a postgraduate programme. Experience could be as a teacher, graduate assistant in an educational psychology service, learning support assistant, educational social worker, learning mentor, speech and language therapist, care worker, or worker in an early years setting.
- Completing a three-year, full-time doctorate in educational psychology, approved by the Health Professions Council.
Skilled, experienced educational psychologists may progress to senior or principal educational psychologist roles. Some become senior officers in local authority children's services departments. There may also be opportunities for self employment or freelance work with independent consultancies.
For more general information on becoming a psychologist, see Psychologist.
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.