Psychology economy is false

3rd February 2012 at 00:00

Following the Scottish government's announcement of the removal of funding for postgraduate training of educational psychologists (TESS, 20 January), the EIS has welcomed the opportunity to join the educational psychologists' workforce planning group. But it is disappointing that there appears to be no scope to defer a decision on the removal of funding support, pending a more detailed discussion of a full audit to identify future need and consider alternative funding models.

The EIS is fully aware of the current financial problems. However, the decision to bring the postgraduate qualification for educational psychologists in line with other postgraduate courses funded by education misses the fact that the two-year training and the probationary year are required to meet Health Professions CouncilBritish Psychological Society requirements to practise as an educational psychologist. Few may wish to give up employment to study for two years with a probationary year to follow, and this could affect the numbers and quality of prospective students.

We believe the Dundee course, due to commence this autumn, is now at risk, which raises concern that there will be a significant problem in recruitment. This will impact disproportionately on outlying areas in Scotland.

The survey conducted by the Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists (ASPEP) clearly sets out the risk the Scottish government is taking, but it does not address the level of service cuts hitherto in educational psychology services across the majority of Scotland's councils.

Staffing shortages would prevent educational psychologists from making a stronger contribution across education as a whole, as recommended in the recent ASPECT report.

We are afraid that the psychological services will be run on a crisis management basis and that Scottish councils will be further exposed to risk of legal challenge. This would also impact on the government's commitment to improving the potential of all children.

Just as there is a need to establish a national standard for teacher numbers, there is an equal need for a national staffing standard for educational psychologists, against which the ASPEP survey could be considered. This would in turn allow a projection against which demand could be reasonably established and which would allow a more detailed debate on supply.

The EIS is asking the Scottish government to defer a decision on longer- term funding arrangements, to maintain the current arrangement for the course which will start at Dundee this autumn and in the meantime to consider both demand issues and alternative funding models.

Drew Morrice, assistant secretary, EIS.

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