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Information for schools

INSET is available to all schools. It is free of charge to maintained schools if the school chooses to use some of its annual allocation of EP time, but, if additional time is needed, a charge is made. Requests for INSET should be made via the school's Educational Psychologist or by contacting Fiona Armstrong, Principal Educational Psychologist. All INSET is evaluated.

The aim of development work is to research and address issues raised by individual schools. Initial discussion and planning takes place with the school's EP. If an EP is available to do the work, they consult the school to clarify what is needed and complete a proposal form with the school. When the work is completed, the school will be asked to evaluate the outcomes.

Work is planned in an Annual Overview Meeting. This meeting normally takes place at the beginning of the new school year and involves the EP, headteacher and/or SENCO. The purpose of the meeting is to review the previous year's work, and plan to use the available time efficiently and evenly across the school year. The planned work may be with individual children, groups of children, or with issues of concern to the whole school.

It is essential for the team's resources to be deployed as effectively, efficiently and equitably as possible. In order to achieve this, time is allocated to schools on the basis of:

  • A banding relating to the size of the school
  • Early intervention, with relatively more of the resource devoted to children in the early stages of their education (to the Foundation Stage, and Key Stages 1 and 2, rather than at Key Stages 3 and 4)
  • A weighting which reflects various indices of multiple deprivation, such as Free School Meals
  • A further weighting regarding additional considerations, such as a school in special measures

There is a 'pool' of additional time which schools can draw upon through negotiation with their Educational Psychologist. As the school year progresses, however, this 'pool' time may have been fully utilised. In addition to school allocation, an EP's time is also made available for work in early years or nursery settings, in preparation for school. Thus, the work of EPs can be viewed as broadly in support of school aims and objectives, even where the focus is very young children. Time is allocated to:

  • Teams supporting vulnerable children eg Looked After Children or asylum seekers
  • Specialist work in early years settings eg training for staff
  • Management of borough-wide initiatives such as 'early support'
  • Planning groups in the council's Wellbeing, Care and Learning service
  • Multi-agency initiatives

Although much of this work is undertaken outside the school setting, it is linked to the aims and objectives for Wellbeing, Care and Learning.

The LOSSS Project

Members of the Psychological Team have been involved in a multi-agency project which aims to provide co-ordinated support for schools and other settings, at sensitive times. The remit includes support for those who have experienced loss, bereavement, trauma and illness.

The exercise has involved:

  • Mapping support services, across Health, the Wellbeing, Care and Learning department, and other agencies
  • A questionnaire study for staff in Wellbeing, Care and Learning matched by a similar study for health professionals, involving responses to loss, bereavement, trauma and illness and perceived support needs
  • A referral flow-chart, including access criteria, and a joint strategy
  • Providing a range of relevant, easily accessible resources, including training materials and books

Leaflets (for parents/carers, teachers and other professionals, and children themselves) can be obtained by making direct contact with the Psychological Team on 01642 201861. The LOSSS package has been distributed to all schools and children's centres in the borough.

SPARC Project

Supporting Positive Attention and Reciprocal Communication

The SPARC materials were developed in response to concerns about children's social and emotional development, in a joint project involving Janet Philpott, Principal Educational Psychologist, and Di Pollitt, Sure Start Children's Services Locality Manager, both from Middlesbrough's Wellbeing, Care and Learning department.

The SPARC programme is based on the principles of early intervention, to provide the foundations of emotional health and community involvement, to ensure joint responsibility between parents/carers and professionals.

Background to the development of the SPARC materials

In Middlesbrough:

  • Levels of communication skill for children starting nursery vary considerably. Some lack basic social skills, including turn-taking, sharing and listening
  • There is a growing mental health problem, and consequent strain on professional resources in the area
  • There are variable standards of childcare in early years settings, with more children than ever spending their important early years away from parents
  • There is emotional impact from global events such as terrorist attacks, and reactions are worsened where children have international family connections
  • There is a need to increase the inclusion of pupils with particular difficulties, such as autism, hearing and visual impairment, physical disability and language impairment

The materials themselves were written with the following aims:

  • To promote social and emotional development in infants and young children, age 0 - 6 years old, as a continuous process
  • To promote the inclusion of all children, regardless of race, disability and gender
  • To facilitate partnership working in developing the 'Every Child Matters' strategy
  • To engage local people and professionals in promoting emotional health in children and young people
  • To facilitate the appropriate flow of information between parents/carers, individual settings and schools

The materials now play a significant part in Middlesbrough's town-wide strategy for impacting on the emotional health of infants and children.