Educational psychology support

Educational psychology support

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 / 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

How to get educational psychology support for your child

For children in Bristol preschool settings

Talk to the SENCO at your child’s preschool. If they agree that support from an educational psychologist would be useful, they’ll fill in a Request for Involvement form with you and send it to the Early Years SEN Panel.

The Early Years SEN Panel discusses the request and make a decision about if additional support is needed.

Educational psychologists also visit private and voluntary sector preschools. Private and voluntary sector nurseries should also have a SENCO who can contact an educational psychologist on your behalf.

For children and young people in a Bristol school or academy

Every mainstream Bristol school and academy has a link educational psychologist. They’re employed by the council to:

  • assess a child’s special educational needs
  • give advice to schools and settings about how a child’s needs can be met

If you’re concerned about your child’s progress, despite the school’s best efforts, usually the SENCO will contact the link educational psychologist to organise a visit to the school.

Usually the school has worked with you before this point to:

  • begin to identify your child’s needs
  • assess progress against planned interventions
  • improve your child’s educational outcomes

The school will tell you its contacting link educational psychologist and you’ll need to give your consent before the educational psychologist can start working with your child.

You will be asked by school staff if you are happy for your child to work with an educational psychologist. 

For young people in Bristol colleges or other further education

If your child’s or young person’s school or college is concerned about her or his progress, the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) may suggest contacting the educational psychology service to help support their needs. The SENCO will always ask for your agreement before contacting the service.

If you are a young person and have concerns about your learning, or if you are a parent or carer and have concerns about your child, you can talk to the school or college SENCO. In the same way as for school aged children, the educational setting will usually have worked with you before this point to begin to:

  • identify your child’s needs
  • assess progress against planned interventions
  • improve your child’s educational outcomes

You’ll be asked by school staff if you are happy for your child work with an educational psychologist.  The educational psychologist will also ask your child if she/he is happy to work with the educational psychologist.

The educational psychologist will try to get an understanding of your child’s needs and strengths.

They’ll look at:

  • your child’s skills
  • how she or he joins in with other children and young people
  • how she or he relates to adults
  • you and your child’s concerns about progress
  • you and your child’s hopes for the future

They do this by:

  • meeting you and teachers
  • observing your child in the classroom or playground
  • talking to your child
  • looking at her or his class work in the school books
  • doing some activities together
  • developing and reviewing a support plan

Our 16-25 year old leaflet has more information about the educational psychology services we offer young people.

If your child has an EHC plan and lives in Bristol, but goes to school in another local authority

If your child has an EHC plan and lives in Bristol, but goes to an out of area school and there is a need for an educational psychologist to attend the annual review, the Bristol educational psychologist will go to the annual review. If your child’s school placement isn’t working, the school’s SENCO will contact Bristol’s educational psychology service.

If your child doesn’t have an EHC plan and lives in Bristol, but goes to schools in another local authority

If your child lives in Bristol, but goes to school in a school managed by another council, the council that manages that school will complete the school based stages of the work.

If a statutory Education, Health and Care needs assessment is agreed, then a Bristol educational psychologist completes the psychological advice for it.

If your child is being educated at home

For children educated at home a Bristol educational psychologist will become involved to complete the psychological advice for an Education, Health and Care needs assessment.

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