How an educational psychologist assesses the educational needs of children and supports parents and schools.

When an educational psychologist normally gets involved

You might ask the school to commission an educational psychologist to help if you think your child is finding it more difficult to learn than most children of his or her age. They also see children who have problems getting along with others or who find it hard to behave in a way other people expect.

Before the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) in your child's early years setting, school or college asks for advice from an educational psychologist, they will have:

  • drawn up targets for your child
  • put support in place to address your child's needs
  • monitored and reviewed the additional support

What educational psychologists do

An educational psychologist can offer advice if schools or families are having difficulty helping a child or young person. Their job is to assess a child's or young person's needs and advise the parents or school about his or her:

  • speech and language
  • communication and relationships with others
  • development, understanding and learning
  • social relationships, making of friends and wellbeing
  • physical skills, such as mobility and coordination
  • vision, hearing or medical needs    


  • offer suggestions about the best way to help your child's learning
  • look at how your child responds to things that are tried
  • offer support to staff to help children who may be experiencing difficulties
  • review the progress your child is making

Who educational psychologists support

They support education staff by delivering training, workshops and group support in early years settings, schools, children's centres, colleges and training providers.

If your child has a severe or complex need, the educational psychologist may work more directly with her or him, you and education staff. Your child must:

  • be under the age of 25
  • live or go to school in Bristol
  • have significant or complex special educational needs or disabilities

If the council carries out an education, health and care needs assessment for your child, it asks an educational psychologist for:

  • advice about your child's needs
  • recommendations about the sort of provision that is suitable for your child

If your child already has an EHC plan, an educational psychologist doesn't always become involved in reviews . For example, if good progress is being made with the provision and support available then a psychologist doesn't need to attend.

 They may become involved if there is:

  • a specific concern that school staff or you have been unable to address
  • a specific question to be answered, for example, at transition points