Quality assuring educational psychologist advice for EHC assessments
Phil Stock
Founder & CEO

Quality assuring educational psychologist advice for EHC assessments

In this article we share the roles of an EP in the EHCP process and how to improve the quality.

Quality assuring educational psychologist advice for EHC assessments

The Crucial Role of Quality Assuring Educational Psychology Advice in EHC Assessments

Educational psychologist (EP) assessments are vital in creating Educational Health Care Plans (EHCPs). The professional advice impacts the final EHCP decisions and outcomes. These decisions help to shape the provision a child or young person will receive, and the weight of this advice cannot be underrated.

Many EP services have introduced their own quality assurance frameworks to review the quality of the EP advice reports, however QA is an area that can be developed further.

Local Areas and EP services face significant challenges due to workforce shortages and considerable EHCP waiting lists and pressures on the educational and EP sectors.

In this article, we unpick the role of an educational psychologist in Educational Health and Care (EHC) assessments and share how to ensure quality EP advice becomes your Local Area’s norm.

What Role Do Educational Psychologists play in The EHCP Process?  

An educational psychologist’s role in the EHCP process is to clearly assess, define and clarify the child's or young person's needs. Their professional expertise is drawn upon to help identify ambitious yet achievable outcomes. Understanding the pupil’s SEND needs and barriers to learning, an EP’s advice helps to determine the direction of the EHC plan.

EP services can be accessed via the Local Area or through private providers. Schools may choose to commission private EP support to meet the needs of their pupils. Others may access EP services through their local SEND team.

What are the challenges educational psychologists face when undertaking EHC assessments?

The current pressures on the EP system and sector pose challenges for EPs (and Local Areas) when completing EHC assessments and giving advice. As with most educational sectors currently, the EP field is struggling to retain and recruit staff. Over 88% of principle educational psychologists (PEPs) reported difficulty recruiting.

A shortage of applicants due to limited places on EP training courses, perceptions of high statutory demands when working for the Local Authority, and potentially more flexible and higher paid employment packages from private EP service providers all contribute to the recruitment and retention challenges.

Due to the EP workforce shortages in the public sector, Local Areas are utilising associate, consultant, or locum EPs to help meet the increased caseload with EHCP applications. Outsourcing EP assessments is a solution to a never-ending caseload with increasingly tight EHCP timeframes, however with this solution comes additional quality assurance and consistency considerations.

How Can Quality Assurance Help the Educational Psychologist Assessment with EHCPs?

Many high-quality EPs are leaving Local Areas to move towards private practice. Where they can potentially work more flexibly for higher pay. The current statutory caseload for EPs can make the career less attractive to those interested. There is a need for simplicity, consistency, and clear expectations for EP advice within any individual LA. Clear parameters and explanation of what outstanding EP advice looks like can help to reduce back and forth between LAs and Associate / Locum EPs.

The risks involved in lower-quality EP advice are immeasurable. There is a universal agreement (from Local Areas and private services) that the children and their families deserve the best support possible. Therefore, the potential impact low-quality EP advice could have on a child’s future progress should drive change in private and Local Area SEND services.

There is a need for quality assurance across EP advice to make the statutory caseload less daunting to EPs and ensure children, young people and their families are given the best chance possible to succeed.

Ensuring EP advice is quality-assured has many benefits for all involved in the process:

• LA SEND Teams receive consistently high-quality advice for each EHCP

• Confidence that consistent high quality EP advice leaves the service, regardless of which EP writes this report.

• Identifies areas of strength and areas that require improvement, to inform service development plans.

• Moderation and peer review ensures a more standardised approach to QA

• EPs are given guidance on what ‘good’ advice looks like

What Does Good Educational Psychologist Advice Look Like?

Before quality assurance can take place, outstanding EP advice must first be understood. There are essential measures that must be in place for EP advice in EHC assessments:

• Recognition of professional standards (including statutory guidance and best practice).

• Opportunity to peer review (overseeing accuracy and objectivity in EHC assessments).

• Commitment to accuracy and reliability during the assessment process.

• Experiential feedback is possible and encouraged from parents, teachers and other professional services.

• Continuing Professional Development to ensure skill development for pupil assessment and the contribution to the EHCP document.

How can the EHCP process become more collaborative?

In an ideal world, all professionals involved in the assessment and formation of the EHCP would be well-connected. Having collaboration and communication at the heart of the process. The most effective way to build effective cross-service communication is through digital platforms.

Digital quality assurance tools, like Invision360, help Local Areas to improve communication and quality. For the EHCP process to become more collaborative, as suggested in the SEND Green Paper reforms, digital technology must be utilised.

Local Areas can be the drivers in this positive change, making a choice to implement the recommended digital processes to help increase the quality of several SEND-related legal documents (like EHCPs).

How can Invision360 help improve educational psychologist Advice for EHC assessments?

Invision30 is an award winning and nationally recognised digital quality assurance provider assisting Local Authorities in improving the quality and consistency of EHCPs, EHCP Annual Reviews, Quality Health Advice, statutory Educational Psychology advice that informs children's EHC assessments and Personal Education Plans against recognised standards. A brand new QA tool for EP services has been created by field professionals, Invision360 makes Local Areas EP advice more consistent and improves simple communication surrounding the EHCP assessment and review process. Invision360 tools are regularly cited in partners' Ofsted and CQC SEND inspection letters for the positive impact on quality assurance systems and processes.

Want more information or to book a free demo? Head over to our book a demo page or check out more success stories for Local Areas like yours.

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