Psychologists can make a difference;Letter;News amp; Opinion

12th November 1999 at 00:00
YOUR correspondent Alan Wood fails to grasp the simple message that local education authorities have to change, not just psychologists (TES, October 29).

He clearly has a poor understanding and scant regard for what educational psychologists can and do offer.

The 14 EPs in Southampton psychology service welcome the prospect of further change, but we do it in a spirit of collegiality with very highly regarded colleagues, principally officers, inspectors and headteachers.

Together, we have reduced the number of statements from 1,200 to 800 in less than three years, largely by delegating funding for all but low incidence special needs (blindness, severe learning difficulties etc), and we've reduced permanent exclusions across the city by 44 per cent in one year.

Our model of service delivery sees us spending just half our time on assessment and consultation, and then 20 per cent on promoting inclusion, 10.5 per cent on early years, 2.5 per cent on specialist psychology, 2.5 per cent on looked-after children, 2.5 per cent on preventing exclusions and the remainder is given over to parent partnership, flexible response, clinical supervision, research, professional development and management.

We arrived at this arrangement through management partnership with headteachers and other stakeholders, and have recently undertaken a very positive performance review where we were evaluated highly by stakeholders.

Earlier this year Department for Education and Employment representatives visited us, and 12 other local education authorities as part of the national working group looking at the future role and training of psychology services.

We are not unique in already delivering the services that children, families and schools need, and the Government's report to be published later this year or in January 2000 will show this.

In essence, LEAs must respond strategically to deliver effective and efficient services that the community needs, and in Southampton we share corporate responsibility for making that happen and making a difference.

I like and respect my colleagues. Alan Wood might try this approach too, and see how he might then be equally regarded.

Peter Sharp Principal educational psychologist Southampton City Council Frobisher House Nelson Gate Southampton.

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