The first year of the programme comprises seven linked modules alongside two supervised placements in Local Authority Psychological Services. The modules are briefly outlined below.
Assessment and Intervention
This module focuses upon psychological theory and research relating to the process of cognitive development and learning throughout the developmental lifespan, with particular emphasis upon childhood and adolescence. The implications for instructional design and assessment derived from these theoretical underpinnings are explored within a hypothesis-testing approach to psycho-educational assessment, within which a range of approaches to assessment and intervention are introduced.
The module adopts a broad remit, including normative, curriculum referenced, criterion referenced and dynamic approaches to assessment of cognitive development, attainment, language, learning style and thinking skills, motivational and affective factors, and of learning environments. It also focuses on the processes of social and emotional development within the lifespan development process. Again, a wide range of psychological paradigms and research evidence, and their applicability are explored, as they relate to the mental health and psychological well-being of children and young people. Monitoring, assessment and intervention methods relevant to work at individual, group and institutional levels are presented and applied in the context of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of common developmental and intra- and inter-personal difficulties.
Complex Individual Needs
This module presents an opportunity for trainee educational psychologist to update, extend and apply the knowledge of the developmental psychology of childhood and adolescence which they bring to the programme from their prior studies of psychology. Against this background, the nature and impact on development of disabilities and special education needs are examined. Here the emphasis rests heavily upon analysis of theoretical paradigms and research evidence relating to the aetiology and impact of disabling conditions, and to the quality of evidence available to inform the selection of intervention methods of choice, if disadvantage and disability are to be minimised. Particular attention is paid to balancing social and medical models of disability, and their implications for practice, and to working with children and young people and their carers in ways that maximise their engagement in a collaborative problem-solving process.
Psychology in Professional Practice
This module is planned to support the development of students’ knowledge and understanding of the complex environment within which educational psychology services are delivered. Relevant legislation and policy are reviewed, as are the roles, accountabilities and working practices of the agencies and professional disciplines who share responsibility for supporting the care and development, health and learning of children and young people. The module gives extensive consideration to the public education system and to schools, their structure, staffing, culture, curricula, pedagogic practices and assessment arrangements, preparing trainees for their role as applied psychologists working from the Foundation Stage to post-16 education.
Within this context, the module explores the role and function of contemporary psychological services and the applicability of psychological theory and research to the primary task of promoting children’s development and learning, both through direct work with individual children and groups of children, and through advisory, consultative and research-based work with teachers and others responsible for children’s welfare and learning. Key dimensions of the role such as consultation and supervision, self-presentation, and professional discourses are addressed, drawing upon a number of key theoretical paradigms such as Personal Construct Psychology, the theory and practice of Self-Organised Learning, principles of Democratic Communication, and Socio-Cultural Activity Theory.
Importantly, the module provides a key grounding in the standards of conduct, performance and ethics required of practitioner psychologists, and educational psychologists in particular, by the Heath Professions Council and British Psychological Society.
There are three modules in which trainees participate alongside other full-time and part-time research students in the School, including the qualified Educational Psychologists participating in the post-qualification Ed. Psych. D. programme. The first module, entitled ‘Identity and Epistemology’, addresses the philosophical and methodological bases for research. A second module, ‘Designing Research’ is concerned with practical aspects of research design and the development of research instruments such as questionnaires and interviews. The third module, ‘Using Sources: Producing Analysis’ aims to support the development of skills of data collection and qualitative and quantitative analysis, and the reporting of research findings.
Working with Organisational and Communities
This module considers the Educational Psychologists role in applying psychology at an organisation level. It is concerned to ensure an ecological orientation to practice at all levels, and to exploring community influences upon children’s developmental needs and the development of culturally and contextually relevant interventions attuned to the needs and resources of the communities which schools serve. The module prepares trainee Educational Psychologists to contribute to organisational development, with particular reference to their involvement in school improvement.
Supervised Professional Practice Placements in Year 1.
Fieldwork ‘A’ is undertaken within one of the West Midlands Educational Psychology Services, under the supervision of one of the Field Tutors, who are likely to draw upon support from other designated practising educational psychologists within their employing Local Authority. All of the Educational Psychologists involved in placement supervision will normally have undertaken specific training to prepare for this role.
The placement includes time in schools and nurseries, visits to special provision, practice of skills, and experience of casework and consultation within the Psychological Service setting, along with a small scale collaborative project in a school or early years setting, undertaken by a pair or small group of trainees. The placement starts early in the Autumn Term and concludes in the following Spring. Two days in each week are devoted to Fieldwork ‘A’: this includes time for supervision.
Fieldwork ‘B’ is a block placement of approximately ten weeks’ duration. The placement starts after Easter, having been preceded by a two-day introductory visit prior to the Easter break. Supervision is undertaken by a designated member of the host Educational Psychology Service, with the Field Tutor maintaining close liaison, support, monitoring and assessment roles complementing the support offered by the Local Authority placement supervisor.
Trainee Educational Psychologists gain valuable experience of life as an applied psychologist on a full-time basis within their host Service during Fieldwork ‘B’. The placement offers opportunities for trainees to extend their range of skills and experience. While the detail of the personal learning agreement for the placement will be dependent upon both the practices of the Service and the particular needs and interests of the trainee, a minimum number of substantive tasks must be undertaken.
Cumulatively, the supervised professional practice undertaken during Fieldwork ‘A’ and ‘B’ should ensure that every trainee has opportunities to:
apply knowledge and skills introduced during University-based lectures and seminars;
gain experience of practice within two contrasting Educational Psychology Services;
develop a portfolio of practice relating to assessment and intervention with individuals and groups of children and young people within a range of settings;
gain experience of working across the age continuum, and with children, young people and families from differing cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds; and
contribute to research, staff training, project and development work within schools and other relevant settings.