Educational Psychology Consultation report
Since the Autumn of 2006, the Parent Carer Council have been involved in an ongoing piece of parent participation work with the Educational Psychologists and Early years support team.
In early 2007, two batches of questionnaires were sent out to Parent carers but there was a disappointing return with only 26 questionnaires being returned out of a possible 215 parent carer council members.
However, the returned questionnaires held lots of significant information for the Educational Psychologists, both positive and negative and a research assistant employed via the Children’s services authority (individual needs) was asked to collate these responses. She reported back to us that, whilst there were many positive comments, there were also three emerging themes that parents had identified, which require improvement.
These 3 themes were:
• Lack of Contact and waiting times • Communication and Information
• Some parents felt they were not listened to and their views were not seen as important.
The working group decided to hold a number of focus groups, to be co-facilitated between E.P.’s and Parent Carer Council members. We held 2 focus groups and invited parents to attend at different times depending on the age of their children, either pre-school, primary or secondary school. We therefore planned to consult with 6 groups of parents but had to cancel one group as there were not enough parents attending.
The remainder of this report is a summary of the findings of the consultation events. Two exercises were completed and both are summarised below. Also, each group was asked to decide which priorities of service improvement they would like to see and this is also summarised below.
19 parents took part in the consultation and the Parent Carer Council and the Educational Psychology service would like to thank each parent who took part and congratulate them on their positive conduct and the good ideas that were generated.
The parents involved in the consultation represented children whose ages were between 2 and 14. Their children had the following conditions :
Condition No. of parents whose child or young person had this condition Autistic Spectrum Disorder 8
Rare Chromosome disorder 1 Children with complex learning, physical and sensory disabilities
Downs syndrome 3
Neuromuscular conditions 2
Language difficulties 1
Heart condition and Alagillies syndrome 1
Gifted and talented 1
Focus Group Exercises Blue Sky exercise
Parent Carers were asked to imagine their perfect Educational Psychology and Early Years service and all groups were asked to record their thoughts on post it notes and place on a poster of blue sky. Next, parents were asked to identify the barriers that they feel prevent a ‘blue sky’ service, recording their thoughts on post it notes and placing them on a poster of a brick wall. Each group was then asked to prioritise which barriers they would wish to break down in order to move towards their blue sky service.
Below is a summary of both exercises:
1.Assessment and Statementing-Blue sky thinking
• Staff will have read about the child before the visit and will have knowledge on the child’s condition before visiting. Staff will inform parents on what to expect from an E.P.
• There would be no waiting times and assessments will take place if a parent requested. There is a clear pathway of intervention
• Reports are written in parent friendly language • The child is seen in both school and home settings
• All Special educational reviews are attended by the E.P. especially when a change of provision is necessary
• Impact on siblings on learning is understood and siblings learning is checked as part of the families assessment
• Parents would have a 24 hour behaviour helpline for advise • Families have an excellent level of service at important Transition
points, i.e. when moving from school to school and at Year 9 onwards transition planning.
Assessment and Statementing-Barriers to Blue sky service
• Parents feel that assessments are often resource led not needs led • Parents shouldn’t have to formally request a statement, professionals
• Professionals can be intimidating and need to remember many parents are emotionally fragile especially around the time of statementing • Terminology can be complex and long winded and who explains? • Information isn’t shared between professionals even if parents wish it
2.Communication- Blue sky thinking
• Parents know when the E.P.’s are visiting schools and are part of the decision making process on when children are seen
• E.P.’s and SENCO’s work closely together to ensure best outcomes for the children they are working with.
• Effective multi agency approach for all children and young people with additional needs.
• Information is routinely given to parents to inform them when their E.P. changes, is on long term sick leave etc
• Parents views are listened to and respected
• Information is provided via a regular newsletter or web page • E.P.’s are available at parent open days in schools
Communication- Barriers to Blue sky service
• Lack of information to parents of when an E.P. should be involved and when they shouldn’t
• Parents are unaware they can directly refer their child/young person • Parents feel there is a lack of general information available
• Parent involvement pathway needs to be better explained
3.Consistency- Blue sky thinking
There were different views from parents on the consistency of Educational psychologists throughout the child or young person’s childhood. Some
parents blue sky thinking was that they would like one E.P. throughout. Others felt that they would like to see a more specialist approach; that E.P.’s
specialise and work with one age group. They were united in wishing the following:-
• Parents have information when E.P’s change and are involved in handovers between the two E.P.’s
Consistency- Barriers to Blue sky service
• Parents don’t get information on who is their new E.P. when staff changes happen
• Some parents felt they would like the same E.P. to follow their child from school to school; others felt a more specialist service for the different school ages was required
• Parents felt there were not good effective handovers between E.P. staff when changes had to happen
4. Schools- Blue sky thinking
• Parents have good information and advise when required to choose schools for their child with additional needs
• E.P’s are proactive in getting support for children with additional needs from schools when the child or young person does not meet the
• There are good, honest working relationships between all schools and E.P.’s
• E.P.’s are available to children or young people who attend private schools
• Children and Young People who are educated out of county have a good level of support with E.P.’s attending S.E.N. reviews.
• SENCO’s have better training around disability and have the time and commitment to fufill their role adequately
• When assessing a child, the E.P.’s consider the whole school day including getting to school, playtimes and lunchtimes. Resources are allocated to children to support the entire school day
Schools-Barriers to Blue Sky service
• Schools are gatekeepers to E.P. service
• Concern that schools might prioritise to meet their needs not the childrens at planning meetings
• Parents not informed of recommendations made by the E.P. service to the school in planning meetings. Parents can often help programmes in schools by monitoring the school and encouraging they fulfil the
• E.P.’s don’t feedback their assessments to the Learning support
assistants who are often the providers of the children’s education; they rely on the teacher to do but there is concern that sometimes this doesn’t happen
• Not enough specialist knowledge in mainstream schools • E.P.’s can’t provide assessments into private schools
• Meetings at school are often interrupted by other school staff, both insensitive and disruptive!
• Very minimal Parent partnership in Cornwall which means there is a lack of information on how the system works
• Children often are unsupported during playtimes and lunchtimes and parents whose children don’t want to go to school and refuse to, often feel unsupported with this part of the day
5. Early Intervention- Blue sky thinking
• Children are seen as soon as their difficulties are identified. Parents identified that portage in particular should start as soon as difficulties are identified.
• Parents are offered a wide range of training to assist them in supporting their child’s development.
Early Intervention- Barriers to Blue sky service
Parents feel that professionals make assumptions that they are ‘not ready’ for services when their child is first diagnosed. This was not a view held by the parents at the focus groups, they all requested earlier intervention to support them in promoting their child’s abilities.
6.Resources- Blue sky thinking
• No delays when a child is referred. • Constant support, not stop and start
• Government provides local authorities with more funding to ensure robust, constant services
• Constant restructuring of local authorities no longer happens
• Specialist practitioners for children and young people with the most complex needs
• Staff sickness, Maternity leaves etc are covered ensuring a stretched service does not become even more stretched
Resources-Barriers to Blue sky service
• Postcode lottery, parents feel services are not consistent in Cornwall • Lack of Educational psychologists, service is overstretched
• Lack of portage workers, service is overstretched
• E.P.’s don’t attend reviews, concern particularly around transition and out of county reviews
• Parents feel there is not enough face to face contact with E.P.’s and feel they don’t know their children well enough to properly assess due to limited resources
• Constant restructuring!
• Very minimal Parent partnership in Cornwall which means there is a lack of information on how the system works
Summary of Workshops
The table below summarises the priorities the different groups would like to see improvement in:
Pre-school group, east of county Improved communication Pre-school group, west of county Improved communication Primary school group, east of county Improved communication
Primary school group, west of county Consistency of E.P. and improved information
Parent Carers priorities are clear, they wish to have improved communication between the Educational Psychologists, Early years service and parents and other professionals. With improved communication and information, parents will gain a clearer idea of how the service works and how it can valuable to their child’s progress and development. Parents need to know what they can expect from the service at events such as annual reviews, especially those important reviews such as out of county and transition reviews.
What happens now?
Mandy Owen, Head of Educational Psychology and Janet Morris, Head of Early years will now prepare a report confirming what actions they intend to take in view of this information. As soon as this is received by the Parent carer Council, we will circulate to all parents that helped us with this consultation. We intend to continue to build on the positive relationship between these two services and the Parent Carer Council over this piece of work and will help with getting out information to parents via our newsletter.
Parent Carer Council Co-ordinator August 2007