From Trainee to Expert: Rising Up the Ranks with a Senior Educational Psychologist

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • What it is like to be a Senior Educational Psychologist.
  • What can be done to support the national shortage of Educational Psychologists.
  • How to find and apply for the best Educational Psychologist jobs.

If you're curious to learn how to work your way to a Senior Educational Psychologist position, look no further than this interview. Senior Educational Psychologists assess children’s learning and emotional needs, design and develop programmes to support their educational and behavioural needs and provide support learning.

This Senior Educational Psychologist is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and is currently working for a leading provider of specialist education in the UK.

Rising from the ranks, this individual has worked in the industry for over 11 years as an Assistant, Trainee, and qualified Educational Psychologist until he became a Senior Educational Psychologist and Clinical Services Coordinator in 2022.

As an advocate for anti-oppressive practice, this Senior Educational Psychologist is now developing his own private practice to ensure young people have the opportunity to thrive.

Can you tell us about your career journey as a Senior Educational Psychologist?

I commenced my role as a Senior Educational Psychologist working for a national organisation within the private sector in September 2022 having worked as Educational Psychologist within a local authority for 5 years.

In my role as a Senior Educational Psychologist, the responsibilities of my role include overseeing the provision of psychological services provided to children and young people accessing specialist educational and residential settings.


What does your job consist of?

My job requires and consists of assessment and intervention planning, consultation and reflective sessions as well as therapeutic programmes. I oversee the workforce development of professional teams directly involved in supporting children and young people within specialist educational and residential provisions. 

I provide psychological supervision and line management support to a multi-disciplinary team (including Educational Psychologists and Assistant Psychologists).

How do you collaborate with other professionals to support the needs of children and young people with SEND?

Primarily, I champion the development of universal support offered to all children in educational settings by advocating and delivering a robust training and development package for practitioners.

I offer reflective practice sessions and frequent consultation times where the needs of young people can be discussed in greater depth with a view to providing psychological theory based insights around ways to overcome whatever barrier they may be experiencing in education.


What is the most challenging part of your job?

My role as a Senior Educational Psychologist is primarily situated within specialist Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) education settings, as well as some contact with residential care homes.

This means there is often a high level of trauma, neglect and negative care experienced by young people. As a consequence, this can then impact those working closely with them (myself included) through the experiences of vicarious trauma.


How do you keep up to date with changes in the industry?

In my experience, it is helpful to maintain contact with a regular programme of Continuous Professional Development (CPD). In addition, networking with colleagues through training events, conferences and online webinars can be a really helpful medium to keep abreast of ongoing developments in the field of special educational needs.


How do you deal with stress or the pressures of your job?

Frequent, supportive and emotionally containing clinical supervision is very important, as is  asserting a healthy work/life balance. To this end, I regularly exercise and connect with nature to support my overall emotional wellbeing.


Why do you think Educational Psychologists are in such high demand?

I believe this is a complex situation without one single contributing factor. My understanding is that the shortage of Educational Psychologists is as a consequence of a variety of factors including:

  • Reduced Educational Psychologist workforce.
  • The increasing numbers of Educational Psychologists are attracted to private work and away from local authority.
  • Increasing numbers of children being assessed for Education Health Care Plans (EHCPs).
  • Mainstream schooling is becoming less inclusive.
  • Increased number of tribunals and appeals.

What do you feel can be done to support pupils with SEND in the classroom and resolve the national shortage of Educational Psychologists?

I think a greater emphasis on SEND in the training of Teachers across early years, primary and secondary as well as Post-16 settings would be great.

In the future, without significant government backing and/or changes to SEND legislations, I can see the local authority role becoming increasingly focused on delivering EHCP targets and deadlines. 

As a consequence, I can then see a greater emergence of privatised Educational Psychology services operating on a larger scale to not only meet these demands but support the generation of a new model of working.

How do you believe the role of an Educational Psychologist has evolved over the years, and what do you see as its future direction?

In my time, I’ve definitely experienced a shift in the perception of Educational Psychologists being ‘gatekeepers’ for diagnosis of SEND, EHCP requests and decisions within a local authority context.

However, my experiences within private sector work has demonstrated how highly valued the role of the Educational Psychologist in supporting early intervention/preventative work can be.


What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a Senior Educational Psychologist?

The most rewarding aspect of the role comes from facilitating positive change into a child or young person's life. When you see demonstrable impacts as a result of your involvement it is highly rewarding and motivating. 


What personal lessons or insights have you gained from your experience as a Senior Educational Psychologist that you believe would benefit future professionals in the field?

Maintain your professional integrity at all times and don’t be afraid of professionally and appropriately challenging others. You are likely to encounter differences of opinion, but try to be the voice that stands for the needs of the child or young person.

In my experience, you can rarely go wrong maintaining a child-centred focus throughout the core of your practice as an Educational Psychologist.

Educational Psychologist jobs

If you’re searching for your next Educational Psychologist job, why not take a look at the latest vacancies, or simply upload your CV to be notified when a relevant position becomes available.  

Struggling to recruit Educational Psychologists?

As specialist local authority SEND recruiters, we support local authorities nationwide with their temporary, interim and permanent staffing needs. 

If you’re struggling to recruit, we have exclusive access to some of the most experienced interim Educational Psychologists in the UK.

Simply contact Natalie Boaler on 01772 954200 to discover how we can help.

Share your experience

Every individual brings a unique set of experiences, thoughts, and insights to the table. We believe in giving a voice to a community of professionals to inspire positive change and champion reform in the healthcare sector.  

If you work in the healthcare sector and would like to share your own personal and professional experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Perhaps you have a different perspective, could offer a fresh angle, or want to challenge assumptions. 

Simply reach out to our Head of Content, Nicole Sherwood, to discuss a collaboration which makes your voice count. 

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