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education psychologist

(128 Posts)
drwitch Tue 29-Mar-16 09:35:31

Anybody got any hints or advice about how to get a private consultation. Ds (11)really struggles at dealing with things he finds hard (even though he can do them really well when he calms down). - Gets either really angry or really teary and neither response is when he moves up to secondary school. Its making him happy and stopping him learning at the rate of his peers. Not looking for a formal diagnosis as such but more some help in teaching him to deal with these feelings

AugustaFinkNottle Wed 30-Mar-16 17:52:44

Phone SOS SEN and see if they can make any suggestions. You'll need to wait till the school holidays are over, however.

supplysam Thu 31-Mar-16 12:17:40

Be very careful. Private assessments are worth very little. No school is required to even read them. Private ed psychs can charge what ever they want, and have no recognized minimum standards for any diagnosis, or recommendation. Too many parents simply pay sky high charges to dictate a report saying whatever they have decided they want it to say, so even good ed psychs arent taken seriously. If you want a report for information for the school, your child has to be referred through the school. If they won't refer, then a referral is probably not necessary.

AugustaFinkNottle Thu 31-Mar-16 15:09:37

Not true, supplysam. Educational psychologists have to comply with Health Professions Council standards, and reputable ones certainly don't just write down what they think the parents want to hear. I've certainly seen reports when they emphatically disagreed with parents. Also, in my experience, parents pay EPs to find out the truth, and have no interest in paying for a report that isn't an accurate assessment of their child's needs. Why would they? When I was worried about my child's dyslexia, I simply wanted to know whether I was right to be worried and how I could help him; I had no interest in having her difficulties exaggerated, not least because that wouldn't have helped her in the least.

By contrast, reports from EPs accessed through schools and local authorities are often worth very little, particularly because LA EPs are trained not to write reports recommending detailed and specific provision. Also they tend to recommend a standard model rather than what the child actually needs.

As for the suggestion that, if the school won't refer to an EP, it probably isn't necessary, that is even more absurd. The fact is that often schools won't refer because they haven't got the budget to pay for more EP time, or because they perceive that they need to use it on other children whose needs they consider, rightly or wrongly, to be more urgent. There are all too many cases - not least those frequently described in the SN section here - where a school utterly dismisses the possibility that a child has learning difficulties only for that child to end up with an EHCP and, frequently, in specialist provision.

The one element of truth in your post is that schools don't necessarily pay attention to private reports, but IME that is true mainly of the more irresponsible schools. Those that know what they are doing see them as a valuable aid to helping them meet their statutory obligation to meet the needs of all children within the school.

PolterGoose Thu 31-Mar-16 15:28:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nlondondad Thu 31-Mar-16 16:06:08

Agree with Augusta's points in general.

The specific link you need is this one

Its the British Psychological Society web site.

You can use it to find an Ed Psych near you and so forth.

They also explain the role of the Health Professions Council, with which the BPS works (of course)

lottielou7 Thu 31-Mar-16 16:13:57

What's the bet that supplysam works for a LA? grin

I agree that their post is utter nonsense. I've had private reports done for two of my children - two for tribunal (helped us win) and I had a private OT report done for my younger child who has dyspraxia. The school has accepted this report and so has the NHS and they have based their support for her at school at school on it.

No professional Ed Psych whose opinion is respected in an appeal would ever say 'what someone wants to hear'. I have known parents unable to use a report they paid for in their appeal because it went against their argument. In fact it is LA EPs who say what suits the LA's budget and nothing more. They are the ones with an agenda. A private EP is self employed and has their reputation to protect otherwise they won't get work.

Youarentkiddingme Thu 31-Mar-16 16:28:22

Schools get X number of EP hours. They don't always have the ability to refer a child who they want to refer.

Ds school wanted to refer him, set up interventions in the process and then referred when they had hours. I could have got an indi report in the meantime if I'd so wished.

GlassJar Thu 31-Mar-16 18:10:37

In our area there are no LA ed psychs any more, the ones they used to use have now gone private and cover the same schools. The schools have to pay for their time directly out of their budgets, which is of course limited.

It would look pretty odd if the schools and LAs accused those ed psychs of not being legitimate if the parents hired them directly.

Agree that schools can't / won't always refer children that need assessment, either through lack of budget or ignorance / denial of the child's difficulties.

OP, your local private EPs probably have websites with an indication of the sort of work they specialise in. Once you have a shortlist, a chat with them should give you an idea of their experience and relationship with local schools. Good luck smile

Ineedmorepatience Thu 31-Mar-16 18:15:03

Some how I dont think supplysam is going to return.

Fingers crossed Ay wink

Cookingwine Fri 01-Apr-16 08:07:39

Thanks to Supplysam's post, we had a most excellent post from Augusta with which I agree completely. OP, in your case an EP will be able to first assess for specific learning disabilities that could underline your DC's attitude to school, a first important step IMO, and you could take it from there.

DigestiveBiscuit Fri 01-Apr-16 11:38:47

LOFL at Supplysam!

The children most likely to be referred for a LA ed psy assessment are those in the mainstream teacher's hair - ie boys with behaviour problems! I remember a friend, who suspected their child had significant SEN - the school told her they got an ed psy one day a term, who could assess 3 children, and they had 16 children on the waiting list. The implication being children with behavioural problems were the priority in their eyes. It would be 2 years before her child would be assessed!

Another friend moved to a sunny LA, where their ed psy only went and did an observation of a child in the classroom. Did no IQ tests, tests on reading, spelling, writing, maths.....Perhaps some educational psychologist on here could explain to me how they can diagnose say dyslexia, possible SLCN in a child with ASD, as opposed to a child with MLD, purely on classroom observations and determine what they need by way of provisions in mainstream, or a special/specialist school?

Another friend's son went through an infant and junior language unit, where they did at least get assessed by the LA ed psy at points of transition in Year 2 and Year 5 - he struggled through mainstream Y5 - 13, and was diagnosed by the university, with dyslexia.

IME, some LA ed psy as above only do a classroom observation, and then write a rubbish report. Some can write quite good reports on the needs and outcomes - but they don't specify any provisions (beyond 1:1 support if you are lucky) or placements. They tell parents "We believe in inclusion - our policy is mainstream!" Except for a lucky few children, who meet the criteria for the local MLD/SLD schools, get diagnosed and given a place there, most parents of children with hidden disabilities like ASD, SLCN, dyslexia, dyspraxia, etc will only find out the extent of their child's problems, what provisions they need specifically and placement, by shelling out for a private report.

As for the idea, parents can dictate the report, its about as likely, if you go to someone reputable, as recommended by a SEN helpline or education solicitor, as you could go to your GP and dictate a report, that you have cancer because you fancy living off benefits for the rest of your life! A reputable ed psy should send you the draft, so you can correct factual errors, but they won't change their professional opinion, on the say so of a parent, education solicitor or barrister!

IME, education solicitors in the top ranks of the Legal 500 are not going to risk their reputation by being made to look fools at the Tribunal, by a rubbish educational psychologist.

DigestiveBiscuit Fri 01-Apr-16 11:40:54

Ditto, last sentence should also say the good lay Tribunal advocates know who the good independent educational psychologists are and what a properly written report looks like!

Maki79 Fri 01-Apr-16 12:56:36

I'm seriously hoping supplysam is not a teacher!!

We've had a dreadful attitude from my dd's primary school. They would not referred her and she was/is beyond frustrated.
The indi report we paid for shows that she has severely slow processing speed and a poor working memory. This has helped us in so many way as it explains why she finds it exhausting and frustrating when she's playing a game with friends and then the 'rules' suddenly change, and also why she struggles to keep up academically even though her general intelligence is very good. Because of the report we are much more understanding of her, and ultimately have a happier home life now.

If you have the money, I would get one done. However, depending on your school be wary as in fact our dd's previous school would not even read the report. We've since moved her and the new school are appaulled with how the old school have let our young child get so frustrated as they think the academic side could have all been dealt with through decent interventions (which she's now getting).

merlottime Fri 01-Apr-16 13:20:01

supplysam recently started a thread about their experiences as a teacher (on the Education board) - and clearly has no time for any children with SEN or their parents.

Cookingwine Fri 01-Apr-16 19:07:10

Hopefully Supplysam is still following this thread and her awareness and interest of SEN will increase. TBH both DDs' primary school teachers have been totally incompetent and not knowledgeable in ASD and dyslexia, it is actually scary given the high prevalence of both conditions. All they seemed to care about was behaviour issues.

Flanks Sat 02-Apr-16 19:25:39

Found this thread via crosspost to discuss supplysam's post.

I am a specialist teacher, qualified to recognise dyslexia/dyscalculia/dyspraxia, many of my tests overlap with Ed Psychs, with the exception of one or two.

I have no idea where her opinion comes from, but it is certainly an 'opinion' and not a particularly valid one.

I, like Ed Psychs, are registered professionals. I, like an Ed Psych, have to have professional membership of a professional body. I, like an Ed Psych, have to engage constantly in CPD to keep our knowledge of current research up to date. I have to submit anonymised reports every three years for scrutiny, to ensure that my work is meeting the standards required, which is no easy process!

I work independently and have yet to have a school ignore any report I wrote. Some schools, after receiving one of my reports independently, have then asked me to come in for additional work on their behalf.

My experience of the vast majority of teachers is that they welcome a well written report. They are human beings like most parents, and to gain an improved understanding of why a student they are teaching is struggling is often very welcome, not least because it can alleviate concerns about the quality of their teaching.

I have had parents want certain things in a report, it has never worked. My job is to advocate for the child/young adult, and a report which misrepresents their ability or need does more harm than good. Apart from that, I need to be able to defend my report from the potential school which disagrees, the tribunal assessing needs, the professional in a school that would need to act on my report and at the end of the day my qualification depends on my professional body agreeing with the standard of my work, otherwise I lose my certificate.

All this being said, certainly there are many schools which respond only to parents who shout the loudest, which lets down a lot of quiet students that need support. There are parents that look for diagnosis for their own needs rather than the students, although this is rare and often easy to spot.

There are teachers that are 'old fashioned' who place all difficulties within the child and they cause great harm to their students because of it. The majority of teachers I meet and work with are caring professionals that want to do the best they can for all of their students.

I have no idea what agenda supplysam has, however I suspect the old fashioned tag would apply. Needless to say, everything in his/her post is inaccurate.

drwitch Mon 04-Apr-16 17:37:00

sorry not to come back earlier and thanks for the advice x

zoelife111 Wed 06-Apr-16 17:52:55

It depends what you want to get out of this. You should be aware that the cost can be hundreds of pounds, and the results of very little value. The school can and may ignore any findings totally. Private assessments may not be in line with current thinking, for example some private assessors still use dyslexia as a diagnosis, or recommend keyboards. Neither are helpful or informative, and cause conflicts in schools where parents want these acted on. Word processing in particular has now been shown to be very detrimental to cognitive development, yet private assessors keep recommending it.hmm

In other situations, there are simply too many assessments, and too long, for a teacher to read. Some classes come with many thousands of pages of assessments and recommendations, much contradictory, much which opposes school policies, and a lot of which is unfounded. It is common for the private assessments to simply be discarded.

It might not be rad by the school. It might be read but disregarded. Or it might be helpful, and the teacher may have time to read it, may be able to remember it, and may be able to act on it. But this should not be your expectation.

If you want it for your own information, then go ahead, but be sure you are informed enough to judge it critically for your self.

Flanks Wed 06-Apr-16 19:08:54

Hi Zoe, I feel somewhat compelled to reply to a few of your statements for the purpose of clarity!

It depends what you want to get out of this. You should be aware that the cost can be hundreds of pounds, and the results of very little value.

Very true. I often recommend that we don't go for a full diagnostic assessment unless previous assessments have already been carried out. I always want to know that there is a 'win' available for such a report, as it is quite invasive and potentially have significant consequences for a person's life and self perception.

The school can and may ignore any findings totally.
True, but they would need a reason. A qualified professional is more often than not in a greater position of knowledge about a student's underlying ability than a school SENCO, for the reasons you state. There is too much paperwork to take in easily. Therefore, if a school chooses to ignore such a document, knowing a parent has pursued it, they are asking for trouble and are doing the student no favours.

Private assessments may not be in line with current thinking,

True-ish, but not as true as you might think. The requirement for CPD to maintain qualifications in assessment basically ensure that current thinking is updated, otherwise the qualification is rescinded.

for example some private assessors still use dyslexia as a diagnosis

For a reason, because it is. DSM5, Patoss, BDA and even the Rose review 2009 all still regard it as a diagnosis which is a combination of biological and environmental risk factors. Law also regards it in this way, classifying it as a disability which protects people with dyslexia from being victims of discrimination.

or recommend keyboards.

There is a reason for this. If a student has a processing difficulty which inhibits processing of writing, then keyboards are often a simpler processing requirement. This is (or should) only be recommended when there is evidence that the use of a keyboard eases production.

* Word processing in particular has now been shown to be very detrimental to cognitive development*

Not true. There is a debate, and the debate largely depends on what you regard the purpose of writing to be. It is true that there are different cognitive processes for handwriting and typing, this does not mean that one is more harmful than the other. In a situation where a student is unable to accurately form letters or spell so that the target word can be recognised, then word processing is absolutely an enabling process for a student that could not otherwise write at all.

mrz Wed 06-Apr-16 21:24:07

Unless the advice is written into an EHCP the school can ignore it if they choose regardless of the author. Parents may be unhappy and choose to remove the child from the school.

Flanks Wed 06-Apr-16 21:33:59

Unless the advice is written into an EHCP the school can ignore it if they choose regardless of the author.

As above, true, but they would need a reason.

A large number of schools (probably a majority) are still unaware of the legal responsibilities which transferred to them in 2014 with regards to specific learning difficulties. Strictly speaking, failure to engage with the report if a diagnosis is confirmed is legally considered discrimination and the school is liable.

Therefore, if they wish to ignore it they need someone who will be prepared to say why and justify it. If they 'just' ignore it and demonstrate no evidence of engagement, then any legal situation would go against them pretty quickly if a parent wished to press it that way. If they engage with the report and can demonstrate reasons for implementing only parts/none of it, then this is fine, but they need to demonstrate that they have made adjustments deemed reasonable.

Parents may be unhappy and choose to remove the child from the school.

True of course, as it is for any child. But it is disruptive to the child and does not relieve the school of their legal responsibilities to make reasonable adjustments.

The days when a school could easily ignore a report died in the early 2000s and the coffin was nailed shut in 2010 and 2014 with very clear legislation from parliament on the topic. The fact that school leadership tends to be extremely poorly trained in their responsibilities in this area, and that a majority of parents depend on school leadership for knowledge of process and school responsibilities, has perpetuated many of the semi-myths we have seen in this thread already.

mrz Wed 06-Apr-16 21:46:52

A simple reason could be they don't have the staff/resources/budget to follow the advice.

Flanks Wed 06-Apr-16 22:03:57

A simple reason could be they don't have the staff/resources/budget to follow the advice.

This is a response, but not sufficient in and of itself.

If this situation is the case, where a school acknowledges that the advice is appropriate and correct for the student but they can not meet the obligations, then they are obliged to inform the council, begin EHCP and make what adjustments they 'can' do in the meantime.

A lack of resources is not a legal get out to do nothing at all. The school retains a legal duty of care, and a legal responsibility to make adjustments, and doing nothing or not doing what they can to ensure that provision is met is a legal failure of their responsibilities.

This is not a failure of teaching in schools, it is a failure of leadership in schools.

Suggestions in this thread that schools are not obliged to do anything with a report are false and misleading. They are absolutely obliged to do something with the report, even if it is to say that they can not meet the needs of that student in the way described, they are then obliged to show and state clearly what they could do. If the parent does not accept this, then they have avenues to follow. What matters is that the parent of that student can pursue their legal right to what they consider an appropriate education. Schools doing nothing in response to a report directly causes harm by preventing both the student gaining provision in that school and any other school.

By and large primary schools do better than secondary schools in this by default, because teachers tend to have the same class and therefore the opportunity to know their students and make adjustments more smoothly.

mrz Wed 06-Apr-16 22:08:58

The fact is the school doesn't have to accept the recommendations in the report and they don't have to give a reason.

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