Why Are Educational Psychologists in High Demand?

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • Why Educational Psychologists are important.
  • Why Educational Psychologists are in high demand.
  • Why there is a shortage of Educational Psychologists.
  • What can be done to improve the demand for Educational Psychologists.
  • Where the latest Educational Psychologist jobs are and how to apply for them. 

Educational Psychologists are crucial to the development and behaviour of children and young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Educational Psychologists are currently in high demand due to a shortage of professionals in the field and an increasing need for their expertise in order to support children and young people with SEND.

According to the Department for Education, just one in ten senior Educational Psychologists are confident in their ability to meet demand. With delays in assessments and shortages of Educational Psychologists, there are lots of reasons for the demand for SEND professionals.

Throughout this blog, we uncover the reasons for the high demand and what can be done to improve the shortage of Educational Psychologists.

Why are Educational Psychologists important?

Educational Psychologists play a pivotal role in the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people with SEND. It is their job to understand how students develop and how educational systems can be designed to make the learning and development process easier.

An Educational Psychologist assesses a child or young person’s needs and advises schools or parents on how best to support them to achieve their full potential. Educational Psychologists work within local authorities, supporting schools, families and other professionals, to improve all children’s experiences of learning. 

The work of an Educational Psychologist is crucial as they provide advice and training to help children learn and develop, as well as recommend and develop strategies in partnerships with schools.

They play a key role in getting the right support for pupils with SEND and have to be consulted when deciding whether to issue an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), a legal document that describes a child or young person's special educational, health and social care needs. This statutory assessment conducted by Educational Psychologists is crucial to inform and develop a comprehensive EHCP.

Why Educational Psychologists are in high demand

When it comes to Educational Psychologists, a stronger employment demand is expected due to the increasing focus on addressing learning and behavioural issues in children and young people.

The field has experienced an increased need for professionals who can understand and address students' psychological and educational needs. According to data from ITV news, over 1.5 million school pupils in England have been identified as having special educational needs, an increase of 87,000 from 2022.

The rising number of pupils requiring SEN support means there is an increase in the demand for Educational Psychologists and EHCPs, and the national shortage of qualified Educational Psychologists and other key professionals who inform the EHCP process has led to a delay in the wait for children and young people with SEND to be provided with support.

A SEND Teaching Assistant we recently interviewed said “The process for children to see an Educational Psychologist and wait for an assessment for an Education, Health and Care Plan is time consuming and there is a constant wait to be seen and heard.” 

The increasing demand for EHCP and the number of children and young people waiting for support has led to an increase in Educational Psychologists.


Why is there a shortage of Educational Psychologists?

Reasons why there is a shortage of Educational Psychologists include:

  • Demand for EHC Plans.
  • Backlog of work.
  • Low pay.
  • Retention problems.
  • Lack of skilled Educational Psychologists.

Demand for EHC Plans

There has been a national shortage of trained Educational Psychologists since 2020 with an increase in EHCP requests and the need for children and young people with SEND to have a support system in place to increase their potential.

Capacity, primarily driven by rising EHCP numbers, has become an increasingly pressing issue. According to the Department for Education, 96% of local authorities say the shortages are affecting children and young people, who are waiting far too long to be seen by a professional - or worse, do not get to see an Educational Psychologist at all.

According to the Freedom of Information requests, in some cases hundreds of children with SEND wait a year or longer to access any kind of special support. 

Despite the increasing Educational Psychologists workload and the vital services and support they provide, local authorities in England and Wales aren’t investing in the Educational Psychologist profession and are facing widespread recruitment and retention problems.

Backlog of work

The increase in requests for EHC Plans has led to a backlog of work for Educational Psychologists and a demand for more good Educational Psychologists in the field. The shortage of Educational Psychologists has had a significant impact on councils being able to understand and meet the needs of children with special educational needs.

The workforce is currently huge and the backlog is no doubt having an impact on the number of Educational Psychologists wanting to join or stay in the profession.

Low pay

Another reason for the shortage of Education Psychologists is the dispute over pay. According to the Association of Educational Psychologists, their pay has fallen by 17% compared to where pay should have been, had it kept up with inflation. This has led to an increase in strike action and Education Psychologists moving to the private sector or leaving the profession altogether.

The low pay has therefore impacted organisations' ability to hire and retain Educational Psychologists and has contributed to the shortage of Education Psychologists.

Low retention

With more Educational Psychologists leaving the local authority workforce, there has been an increase in the number of vacancies to fulfil the role. Research from the Association of Educational Psychologists discovered that nearly 9 in 10 local authorities are struggling to recruit Educational Psychologists and 96% of local authorities reporting recruitment and/or retention issues stated that these difficulties affected outcomes for children and young people requiring support.

Local authorities in England are facing widespread recruitment and retention problems, related to the high proportion of time Educational Psychologists were spending on statutory work rather than EHCPs.

Lack of skilled Educational Psychologists

The low pay and high demand of the competitive role means that not enough Educational Psychologist’s are being trained and entering the profession. The general lack of applications, negative perceptions of local authority work and competition from other local providers has meant retention levels are low.

Educational Psychologists are trained over three years to doctoral level and are qualified to take on high levels of responsibility. The lengthy training process has meant that there is still a wait and a demand for qualified Educational Psychologists. Educational Psychologists lack capacity to engage in early intervention and advisory work, because statutory assessment took up so much of their time.

What can be done to improve the demand for Educational Psychologists?

Improving the demand for Educational Psychologists involves several strategies aimed at increasing awareness of their role, addressing workforce shortages, and enhancing the effectiveness of their services.

Proactive measures need to be taken to address workforce shortages by increasing the focus on student support and special education services as well as advocating for policy changes to prioritise funding for educational psychology services. 

In order to tackle the serious shortage in Educational Psychologists, it can be beneficial to increase government-funded training and professional development opportunities to educators and school administrators. Implementing an expansion and increasing the focus on the number of Educational Psychologists being trained could ensure that there is a capacity for the high quality supervision of trainee Educational Psychologists.

By implementing these strategies, stakeholders can work together to improve the demand for Educational Psychologists and ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the support they need to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

Educational Psychologists jobs

If you're looking for your next Educational Psychologist job, discover how Spencer Clarke Group connects Educational Psychologists with employment opportunities. We work with hundreds of local authorities throughout the UK and can offer a range of interim and permanent opportunities.

Recruit an Educational Psychologist

Struggling to recruit Educational Psychologists? As one of the leading SEND recruitment agencies in the UK, we support local authorities up and down the country in their search for great interim and temporary Educational Psychologists.

Our Divisional Manager, Richard Shorrock, is one of the leading SEND recruitment specialists in the UK - so much so, he was honoured with the Best Temporary Consultant award at the 2023 Global Recruiter Awards!

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