The "LEA" Educational Psychologist

I worked as a "Local Education Authority" educational psychologist for an outer London Borough for 25 years.  I am now in Independent  practice.

Whenever I receive a request for any private work, my initial response is to direct the "client" to use their "LEA" educational psychologist if possible.
The main advantage in using your LEA educational psychologist, is that he/she will be able to view the problem in context of the classroom, the teacher, the school ethos and the rest of the children.  This holistic approach is much more likely to gather relevant information and produce an informed solution. When possible, the LEA educational psychologist should always be the first port of call..

The second advantage is that when the service is available, it is free at the point of contact (you have already paid through your taxes).  As long as an educational psychologist is a "Chartered Educational Psychologist" (or eligible for chartering),  then the advice given should be of equal quality and direction.

Below is the advice that I gave to schools about use of educational psychologist time before I worked with them.


Educational Psychologist - Consultation Model

The Code of Practice and DfES direct the Educational Psychology Service towards a model of consultation rather than formal assessment when working with individual children.

·    Pro-formas are available to facilitate referral.
·    The essence of the information required is:
·    the nature of the problem,
·    the school's strategies and provision already used, .
·    the measured outcome of the school's intervention,
·    a clear expectation of the outcome of consultation with the Ed Psych.

When the Ed. Psych. has read all the information, there will then be consultation with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) to consider the next step.
There is often a hierarchy of response which may include some or all of the following steps.
·    discussion with other school staff,
·    advice about alternative approaches within Individual Education Programmes (IEPs),
·    suggestions about referral to alternative agencies,
·    non contact observation of child in class,
·    meeting the child in or out of class,
·    possible individual assessment,
·    possible parental interview.

Until the Ed. Psych. has read the paperwork and discussed the next step with
the SENCo, the next step will not be known so it may well be premature for anyone prior to that point, to inform the parents that their child will be "seen" by the Ed. Psych.
It may be more appropriate to say "referred for an opinion/consultation."
The aim behind this consultative model is to increase the amount of preventative work and to allow more children to benefit from psychological advice.

However, the amount of  educational psychologist time that is given by LEA's to local schools is very limited and extreme cases tend to occlude the less needy.  This can result in very long waiting lists for children with significant but less disturbing problems.
Parents sometimes tell me that there are occasions when they would prefer an
opinion  from an independent educational psychologist even when an LEA educational psychologist is available.
If your child is in independent education then you may not have access to an LEA educational psychologist.
These situations are where an independent, private chartered educational psychologist can help.

If you think that your child would benefit from a prompt in-depth assessment that is not readily available from your LEA educational psychologist then please contact me.

These are my personal opinions which
reflect my experience of  39 years in education
including  the last 25 years of practising as an educational psychologist.

Ged Balmer
Chartered Educational Psychologist
Cert. Ed., BSc.(Hons), MSc.,
C. Psychol., AFBPsS.
British Psychological Society No: 34097

© 2004 All rights reserved

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