The 2011 HMIe Aspect Report Educational psychology in Scotland: making a difference recommendations and national priorities for Scotland regarding vulnerable children, young people and their families emphasise a key role for educational psychologists in local authorities’ delivery of services. Educational psychologists play an extensive part in the provision of educational services across Scotland; their contribution to national priorities such as: Getting It Right for Every Child; literacy and numeracy strategies; Curriculum for Excellence; LAC children and young people, and emotional health and well-being is essential to the continued progression across Scotland of these and other priorities.
This Workforce Planning Report (2013) highlights that the ASPECT Report recommendations, increased expectations regarding national priorities and a significant increase in additional support needs (as identified by Scottish Government data) is resulting in psychological services across Scotland reporting a significant increase in demand.
Increased demand for psychological services exists at a time when numbers of educational psychologists have declined to the same level they were at in 2001 when the then Minister for Education and Young People expressed the view in the foreword of the Currie Review (2002) that the level of staffing for educational psychologists in Scotland was in, ‘urgent need to recruit and train more educational psychologists’ The current report indicates that the removal of funding is having a significant and growing impact on the numbers of individuals applying to train for the profession and there is evidence of a number of shortages of educational psychologists particularly in rural areas of Scotland.
Across Scotland there is inconsistent staffing of educational psychologists; a baseline for a FTE educational psychologist per head of population does not currently exist and the population range for 1FTE educational psychologist is anything from 2404 to 5620 per head of population. The likely result of this will be variable services provided to children, young people and their families depending on where they live.
Current conditions of service provide challenges for psychological services which require more consideration to avoid further impact on services. Sickness and maternity cover is extremely unlikely for psychological services. This leads to educational psychologists having to absorb constant additional workloads with the potential for impact on staff welfare. This issue is more acute given current staffing levels and demands.
The roles and function of principal psychologists is a potential further element to impact on the profession and requires clarification. An additional concern is that because of shrinking local authority budgets, principal psychologists are being given an increasing and variable range of education management tasks to carry out.
In the interests of addressing the issues outlined in this report, it is proposed that a review of psychological services in Scotland is carried out as a matter of priority with a view to developing a national framework for Scotland which supports the local authority delivery of equitable services to schools, children and families and their communities.
A copy of the full report can be downloaded below: