Educational Psychology

Educational Psychologists are specialists in learning, emotional well-being and child development. We work directly or indirectly with children and young people. We also provide advice to their parents and other adults who teach and support them. In Cornwall, Educational Psychologists (EPs) work as part of the Children's Psychology Service. 

Vision: Children and young people at the heart of everything we do

Mission: Using psychology to enable positive change

Core Values: 

  • Inclusive
  • Collaborative
  • Child-centred
  • Strengths based
  • Empowering

We work with children and young people, their families and educational settings.  Our role is to promote positive outcomes for vulnerable groups of children and young people including:

  • children and young people with general or specific learning difficulties
  • children and young people with physical disabilities and significant medical needs
  • children and young people in care and those who have Social Care involvement
  • young people with emotional and mental health needs.  They may also present with behavioural difficulties

The Educational Psychology Service provides specific pieces of statutory and core work. We are funded to provide this free to educational settings within Cornwall.

Statutory work

The service is the sole provider commissioned by the Council to carry out statutory psychological work.  This is to assess children and young people with special educational needs.  

On behalf of the Council we carry out the following statutory duties: 

  • Providing assessment and written Psychological Advice. We do this as part of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment or reassessment of a child or young person (aged 0-25)
  • Providing psychological knowledge and opinion at Special Educational Needs and Disability tribunals. We do this for children or young people on behalf of the local authority
  • Contribution to the Statutory Special Educational Needs Panel
  • High priority casework requested by the Manager of the Statutory SEN Team. This is agreed by the Principal Educational Psychologist

Core Work

Core work carried out by the Educational Psychology Service is:

  • discretionary
  • subject to change
  • determined by Together for Families priorities

As from September 2021 the core work carried out by the Educational Psychology Service is changing. In line with the Belonging Framework, the focus will be on:

  • strengthening relationships and
  • supporting the inclusion of children and young people

within their local educational settings and community. Further details on what this will look like and how support can be accessed will be provided in the autumn term 2021.

Access to Core work will need to demonstrate:

  • The child or young person is on the roll of a state educational setting within Cornwall.
  • The child or young person has significant social, emotional and/or special educational needs.
  • Documented evidence that the child or young person’s difficulties are persistent, despite the educational setting having taken relevant and purposeful action over time, as set out in the SEND Code of Practice.
  • Core work is time-limited, outcomes focused and will usually involve one cycle of assess, plan, do and review.

Core work previously undertaken by the Educational Psychology Service focused on working to support:

  • children and young people in care to Cornwall Council
  • children and young people subject to a Cornwall Council Protection Plan

Some of these children and young people will continue to have their needs met through the revised specification for core work. However, for the majority, schools are able to use our traded services to access Educational Psychology support. This could include:

  • a range of assessments
  • delivery of interventions
  • attendance at prioritised meetings
  • providing advice and guidance to the professional network around the child or young person

For more details on any of the work mentioned below, please view our brochure.

Work with a focus on individual children and young people

Educational Psychologists try to gain an understanding of the whole child. We also consider the environment they live and learn in.  This is so we can best support others in working together to reach positive outcomes.

Others we work with include:

  • Young people
  • Parents or carers
  • Teachers and
  • Other professionals

Individual work may include:

  • Observation
  • Consultation with parents, teachers and other professionals
  • Completing questionnaires
  • Pupil interviews 
  • Dynamic assessment 
  • Play based assessment
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Standardised assessments of academic performance
  • Contributing to statutory Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments 
  • Setting and reviewing outcomes/targets
  • Attendance at multi-agency meetings and reviews
  • Draw and Talk intervention
  • Solution Focused Brief Therapy
  • Personal Construct Psychology
  • Narrative Therapy
  • Motivational Interviewing 

Family interventions

  • Video Interaction Guidance
  • Coaching
  • Video Feedforward

Group interventions

We can develop and deliver bespoke interventions on a needs led basis. Please see the traded service section for further information.

Interventions include: 

  • Emotion Coaching
  • Loss and change
  • Friends (KS 2-4) and Fun Friends (KS 1-2)
  • Therapeutic Story Writing
  • Circle of Friends
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy based interventions
  • Understanding anger
  • Whole class intervention

Whole school interventions

Please see the traded services section and brochure for further information

  • School development projects
  • Soft Systems Methodology
  • Research
  • Provision Management

Staff Support: training and interventions

  • Staff support and supervision
  • Staff well-being and stress management
  • Video Enhanced Reflective Practice (VERP)
  • Staff drop in sessions
  • Teacher (staff) coaching
  • Collaborative problem solving e.g. Circles of adults or Solution Circles
  • Motivational interviewing

Staff training

  • Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) Training
  • Attachment and resilience
  • Dyspraxia/Coordination difficulties
  • Differentiation
  • Memory and Learning
  • Mediated learning to develop thinking skills
  • Use of ipads and apps
  • Memory and learning
  • Concentration and attention
  • Precision teaching
  • SMART targets
  • Draw and Talk training for staff
  • Video Interaction Guidance (VIG)

Please see our brochure above for further information and examples of training. 

We are a partially traded service. Educational settings can buy Educational Psychology support in blocks of time. This is to meet their specific needs and priorities. One day equals 6.5 hours. Purchased time should include time for preparation, write up and follow up.

Download the Traded Services brochure

How educational settings buy traded educational psychology services

All purchases are made via Services for Schools. For academic year 2021-2022 the opportunity to purchase a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the Educational Psychology Service will remain open on the Services 4 Schools portal until the 31 July 2022. It will then be closed.

We will not be opening the Flexible Support. The Flexible Support option will only be opened if or when we are able to accept and deliver additional traded work. This is because we want to be able to fulfil and deliver our traded commitments to those schools who have purchased an SLA.

Advantages of a Service Level Agreement

  • A guaranteed level of support throughout the academic year.
  • Educational settings that purchase an SLA will have a named link Educational Psychologist to carry out all of their traded work. The same Educational Psychologist will also aim to carry out any and all core or statutory work.
  • Schools with an SLA will be offered a free virtual planning consultation meeting. Within this meeting a range of work can be discussed and educational psychology involvement can be agreed and prioritised.

Every link Educational Psychologist keeps an up to date log of all work they carry out in a school, or across a MAT, during the academic year. This information is shared with the SENCO and headteacher on a termly basis and at the end of the year.

Online training (£30)

‘Using iPads to support learners with literacy difficulties- evidence based practice’

This online course covers:

  • School and local authority statutory duties.
  • Using technology to support learners with special educational needs.
  • Current research findings.
  • Good practice when using technology to help children and young people learn.
  • A step by step video guide. This shows how to change settings to support learners with literacy difficulties.

Access the online training

For all individual casework, educational settings need to complete the form below:

Request for Involvement FormThis must be signed by the person with legal parental responsibility. For Children in Care this should in the vast majority of cases be signed by the Social Worker and not the foster carer.

Statutory – individual casework

All requests are made by the Statutory SEN Service.

Core Work

Further details on what this will look like and how support can be accessed will be provided in the autumn term 2021.

Traded – individual casework

Educational Psychology time must first be purchased via the Services 4 Schools portal. The signed and completed request for involvement form, should be sent to the school’s named link Educational Psychologist.

Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) is a way of looking at video clips of people interacting. It supports an understanding of communication. This provides a process for building communication and interaction skills.

How it will help

  • It will highlight the strengths people already have
  • It will build on these strengths
  • Seeing yourself communicating effectively is a very empowering and motivating process
  • The process provides an understanding of communication that can be applied in any interaction

How it works

  • A short clip of video is taken (approximately 10 minutes) of the interaction of those involved
  • The video is looked at by the VIG practitioner who will pick out a small number of clips showing positive communication
  • The VIG practitioner returns to the client(s) to feedback and discuss the clips
  • Clients are equal partners in the process with the VIG practitioner

Who the video belongs to

  • The videos belong to the people in them
  • Clients receive a written contract. It says that the video will not be shown to anyone outside of the VIG project without their permission 

Where VIG comes from

  • The model was developed in Holland 30 years ago
  • The theoretical base to the model was provided by Professor Colwyn Trevarthen, based at Edinburgh University. He picked out the successful components of mother and baby interactions. These have become the corner stone to the approach and are referred to as “the principles of attuned interaction”

Who the VIG service is for

VIG is for parents and carers who want to make changes in their relationship, communication and interaction with their child. An assessment by a professional in the Together for Families services* indicates a concern about:

  • a lack of emotional warmth in the relationship
  • a predominance of negative responses from the parent or carer to the child
  • the parent or carer is not being able to see the world from the child’s point of view
  • the parent or carer having difficulty bonding with their baby or has missed the opportunity to bond with their child when younger
  • the parent or carer being at the early stages of developing a relationship with the child and will benefit from some support to do this
  • a parent or carer needing support to implement their learning from other interventions. (eg Incredible Years, Triple P, Passionate about…)

* (e.g. health visitor for children 3 and under, social worker, family worker, psychologist) 

Before making a request please consider the following

  • Has the assessment you have done with the family or child indicated that VIG would be the appropriate intervention? If so, can you make sure this is clear as part of your request for VIG.
  • Have you discussed whether VIG would be an appropriate intervention with other people working with the family? Is everyone clear why VIG would be helpful?

Answers to the following questions will be required before the request is accepted. This must be included in the Parent / Carer’s views section on the EHH request for help form.

  • What change is hoped for from the parent or carer by engaging with the VIG and has this been mutually agreed?
  • What impact will this have on the child’s lived experience? Is the parent or carer clear about this?

Request involvement from the service

All requests for involvement of the VIG are managed by the Early Help Hub

If you are not sure whether the service would be right for you or your client you can watch this Information for referrers video or please contact us for more information.

Leaflets and other resources

You can also watch a short video about VIG on the Association for Video Interaction Guidance website.

Babies1st has produced a useful video introducing VIG for work with parents / carers and babies.

The VIG Service in Cornwall was evaluated by researchers from Cardiff University in 2019. This work has now been published in the British Journal of Social Work.  You can view the report below:


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