Schools

DfE pledges £21m to train educational psychologists

Ministers agree extension of current scheme which provides free doctorates for those who agree to work for councils

Ministers agree extension of current scheme which provides free doctorates for those who agree to work for councils

Educational psychologists are to be balloted on strike action

The government has extended its scheme to train 200 educational psychologists per year after committing £21 million in funding to boost numbers.

The scheme, currently run by 12 universities and an NHS trust, offers a free postgraduate doctorate degree in exchange for at least two years working for a local authority or alternative setting after graduation.

The Department for Education said it was launching a “market engagement” exercise for the new contract, which would run from September 2023 and be worth up to £32.2 million for three cohorts.

£21 million in funding for the first two cohorts was confirmed this week. A further £11.2 million in funding for the third cohort is depending on the next spending review.

The budget “would be expected to fund the full three-year tuition fees for trainee educational psychologists, as well as a first-year bursary payment for trainees, and associated course administration costs”.

Ministers have been funding training for educational psychologists for several years, amid fears about the numbers available to work with schools. They play a key role in allocating education, health and care plans to pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

But Schools Week revealed in 2017 that the number of educational psychologists working for councils dropped from 1,900 in 2010, to 1,650 in 2015.

Government research in 2019 found more than 90 per cent of local authority principal educational psychologists experienced more demand for their services than they are currently able to meet. Two thirds of councils reported as struggling to fill vacant positions.

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2 Comments

  1. The government needs to stop funding the bursary route and encourage the LA to pay trainees on the Soulbury scale. This would then be similar to clinical psychologists’ training posts who are salaried, and would stop trainee EPs from being used as already qualified EP during their 3 year training course. Furthmore, the government could then reallocate the funds spent on bursaries to more funded places. The shortage of EPs working in LA is not purely down to low numbers of EPs nationally. EPs are not being treated well by LA e.g. pay is low and not rising in real terms, the demands of fulfilling buy-in requests and statutory advice for EHCP processes are unrealistic etc EPs get a better work/life balance when in part-time positions and working on a contractual basis for LA. The recruitment and retention issues start at the training course level. The government providing more money will not fix the shortage of EPs working in LAs.