A study of Educational Psychologists’ use of consultation and users’ views on what a service should deliver
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
PAPER 1: Educational psychologists’ perceptions of using consultation: An investigation of Educational Psychologists’ perceptions of using consultation with schools.
PAPER 2: What do schools want from an Educational Psychology Service? A qualitative case study of service users’ perceptions of an Educational Psychology Service in Wales?
PAPER 1 - Consultation is a widely used model of practice amongst Educational Psychology Services (EPS) in the United Kingdom (UK) as evidenced in the amount of research carried out on this practice (Leadbetter, 2006, p. 246). This paper attempts to supplement the limited evidence on how and why consultation is used. This paper provides an account of Educational Psychologists (EPs) perceptions of using consultation in a Welsh Educational Psychology Service (EPS). The study uses a thematic analysis of interviews with EPs and 3 accounts of the practice of consultation are provided as examples of how consultation is used. Data analysis revealed that EPs’ practice is dominated by the influence of Wagner’s model of consultation, which is a result of both university, and service based training and not because they feel it is necessarily the best way of working and were vague about their reasons for using this approach. Evidence emerged to suggest EPs were only aware of one model of consultation, which is the Wagner model. Evidence also emerged to suggest that EPs confused service delivery models with models of consultation and that EPs are unclear about their unique skills and role when using consultation and feel that schools do not understand the work they are trying to achieve when working in this way. EPs also considered that schools want more time with them, but burdensome bureaucracy hinders this. These findings are discussed in more detail at the end of Paper 2 where the overall findings suggest there is a systemic problem in Pantysgawn EPS, where the dominance of the EP role to provide statutory assessments prevents EPs from working in a truly consultative way. The paper ends by discussing the key element of the EP’s role, whether a consistent and rigid adherence to one practice model is practicable or desirable, and the various ways that EP services can monitor outcomes to alleviate some of the bureaucratic processes. PAPER 2 - Paper 1 of this study looked at EPs’ perceptions of using consultation. Very few studies have looked at service users experiences in consultation based EP services. Paper 2 therefore looks at schools’ perceptions of the EP service and considers the benefits and barriers to effective service delivery using a thematic analysis of interviews with staff from 5 primary and 3 secondary schools. Findings suggest that schools continue to regard the expertise of the EP as being a provider of individual assessments, but they also revealed an awareness of the wider systemic role that EPs can provide. This traditional view of the role of the EP is discussed in terms of a wider systemic pressure for schools to seek this kind of EP intervention due to the Local Authority’s (LA) focus on statutory assessments. Schools appreciated a greater continuity of EPS staff as this helped them to develop more productive working relationships and they wanted more time with the EP. The findings suggest that the level of bureaucracy and the statutory assessment requirements to gain access to targeted resources were a barrier to working more effectively with schools. The paper ends by integrating these findings with the paper 1 findings and discussing the key element of the EP’s role, whether a consistent and rigid adherence to one practice model is practicable or desirable, and the various ways that EP services can monitor outcomes to alleviate some of the bureaucratic processes.
DEdPsy in Educational, Child & Community Psychology