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Psychology setting standards

The report of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers conference (TESS, May 25) shows that the union has a significant misunderstanding of the role and work both of educational and clinicalpsychologists.

A Perth guidance teacher asks of educational psychologists: "What are they actually doing?" He suggests there should be a national body monitoring their work, setting targets and looking for outcomes. The fact is that Scotland is the first country in the world to have nationally recognised performance indicators for educational psychology, and these cover every area of work. These indicators were universally welcomed by services and indeed took forward the work psychologists were already doing in monitoring standards and in enhancing the quality of service delivery.

It is generally known that there is a very serious shortage of psychologists and also that, even in situations of full staffing, the demands made on services have icreased very significantly since staffing standards were established. Nevertheless, the surveys carried out throughout the country by psychologists have consistently shown extremely positive feedback from parents, schools and other users, and this has been supported by published consumer research.

The NASUWT delegate also states that children referred to clinical psychologists "come back to school nicely subdued on Ritalin". Apart from the fact that research has shown the benefits of Ritalin in appropriate cases of attention deficithyperactivity disorder, it must be pointed out that clinical psychologists do not prescribe either Ritalin or any other medication.

On the contrary, there is wide recognition of the contribution the profession has made to developing positive alternatives to medication for children with difficulties and disorders.

Tommy MacKay

Psychology Consultancy Services

Ardoch House

Cardross, Dunbartonshire

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