Support for children aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Information for Parents and Carers - Educational Psychology Service

What is an Educational Psychologist?

Educational Psychologists are Psychology graduates who have undertaken further professional training to specialise in Educational Psychology. This training allows us to understand how children develop and learn and what may affect their progress and behaviour.

All BCP Council Educational Psychologists are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and follow HCPC professional standards and requirements for Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

The purpose of our role is to use and share psychological knowledge and skills to help bring about positive change.

Educational Psychologists work with others to create a shared understanding of the psychological barriers that might be impacting on progress and development. We consider thought processes, beliefs, values and identity, and how these are reflected in communication, education and behaviour. We believe that context, experiences and what we learn as a result strongly determines how we think, feel and behave. Therefore, we recognise that many of the difficulties children and young people face are the result of their experiences and interaction with the environment around them.

We work closely with those who know the child or young person best and who are in the best position to change things to help their learning and/or behaviour. We help them to identify strengths, generate ideas and actions that hope to shift things in a positive direction. Even small changes to the curriculum, the environment or the language we use, can prompt positive changes within the child or young person.

Why might an Educational Psychologist get involved?

An Educational Psychologist may become involved for a variety of reasons. However, typically it is to help a parent or teacher to identify what is helping and what might be a causing a problem with some aspect of a child or young person’s progress and development. Common examples of issued raised are listed below:

  • not making as much academic progress as expected
  • regularly experiencing intense and unpleasant emotions, such as anxiety or anger
  • socialising or forming friendships with peers poses a problem
  • displaying low motivation to engage with learning
  • behaviour is difficult to manage or causing a concern.

There are four main areas of special educational need described in the SEND Code of Practice.

  1. Communication and interaction
  2. Cognition and learning
  3. Social emotional and mental health difficulties
  4. Sensory and/or physical needs

Educational Psychologists support children and young people whose needs fall within or across any of these four areas.

What we do

Our approach

Educational Psychologists work in a variety of ways and use a combination of approaches. This can include:

  • attending multi-agency and review meetings, including 'Team Around the School' meetings
  • conducting research
  • contributing to the development of staff, such as through training, consultation or supervision
  • helping schools to develop and adapt whole-school policies and approaches
  • providing support to schools following a critical incident
  • consultations with parents and staff to agree clear outcomes and plan actions to achieve those outcomes
  • Working with school staff to consider appropriate interventions and support
  • reviews of progress
  • psychological assessment (eg tests, questionnaires, observations and discussion/consultation) which may be used to:
    • gain a clearer understanding of the pupil’s views, hopes and motivations
    • gain a clearer understanding of the pupil’s strengths and vulnerabilities
    • identify external factors that may be facilitating or inhibiting the pupil’s progress
    • contribute to the diagnostic pathway for a developmental disorder such as an autistic spectrum condition
    • contribute to an Education, Health and Care needs assessment which may lead to the issue of an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Q. "I think my child needs to see an Educational Psychologist. What should I do?”

A. Every state school and academy in BCP has a link Educational Psychologist. Parents should liaise with their school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) so that concerns can be raised with the Educational Psychologist if deemed necessary. However not all schools purchase EP time every year, so please check with your school.

Working with us


The Educational Psychology service is committed to the ongoing improvement of our practice. If you have had involvement with our service, we would welcome your feedback. Please click on the link to our feedback form. Feedback forms are anonymous.

What parents and carers have told us:

“EP always interacts well with [my daughter], putting her at ease.”

“I was extremely happy with the service I received.”

“Really great - wish we could have started years ago."

How to contact us

The Educational Psychology team are based in two locations.

If you live in Bournemouth or Christchurch, please contact the East Team

If you live in Poole, please contact the West Team

The team is managed by Vanessa Grizzle, the Principal Educational Psychologist. Vanessa can be contacted via or by phone on 01202 093801.

Resources to support transition

The Anna Freud Centre have developed a booklet exploring how to manage unexpected endings and transitions.

Young Minds runs a project named Find Your Feet with a focus on the Year 6 to Year 7 transition. It includes a wide range of transition activities and resources including:

Anna Freud #Selfcare Summer Primary Pack

Anna Freud #Selfcare Summer Secondary Pack