Kiera is an Educational Psychologist (EP) with over 20 years experience working in the area of Special Educational Needs. Kiera qualified in 2001 as an EP, having previously worked as a Special Needs Teacher.
Kiera has extensive experience in the area of Social, Emotional, and Behavioural Needs (SEBD) and was previously employed by a Behaviour Support Team, specialising for a period of time in the area of Early Years and SEBD.
A period of Kiera’s career was also spent in the field of Special Education as an Advisory Officer focusing on the legal Statutory Assessment process, and this involved working with schools, families, and a range of professionals, both educational and medical.
After 10 plus years working as an Educational Psychologist Kiera decided to move into the area of private practice and subsequently trained in the area of ADOS-2 assessment, working part-time in Dublin within a multi-agency, private ASD assessment team.
An Educational Psychologist works in partnership with schools, parents, and other professionals to help children and young people achieve their full potential. An Educational Psychologist uses their training in psychology and knowledge of child development to assess the difficulties that children/young people may be having in their learning. They provide advice and training on how schools might help children to learn and develop. They can develop strategies in partnership with schools to help a child learn more effectively; this can include teaching approaches, adaptations to the learning environment, advice on curriculum materials and behaviour support.
An Educational Psychologist must keep up to date with best practices, policies and research relating to how children learn and develop.
The assessment of a child/young person’s needs is not necessarily a one-off activity. Assessment is part of the day-to-day learning and teaching and involves gaining information from the teaching environment/staff in relation to how the child learns and their response to intervention. Psychometrics and individual testing certainly play a key part in the assessment process, and this can take the form of cognitive, literacy, numeracy, and personality testing. The Educational Psychologist then uses all of this information to contribute to the planning, action, and review process for the child/young person. Following assessment, a full report with specific recommendations is provided to support the child/young person at school and /or at home.
An EP assessment for a school age child in relation to a learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyscalculia lasts approximately 2.5- 3 hours. Once the referral information is obtained the EP will assess the need and determine the appropriate assessment techniques required; this can include observation if required. The assessment of a younger, nursery-age child typically involves play based observation as well as standardised test administration. All assessments require extensive information gathering, such as developmental history and school information. In addition to this in some cases, standardised questionnaires and/or rating scales may be completed to further advise the assessment process.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is a regulatory body of health and care professions in the UK. Their role is to protect the public and by law, people must be registered with them in certain professions (including Educational Psychology) in order to work in the UK. They do this by putting in place a set standards for professionals’ education and training and practice.
They also approve programmes which professionals must complete to register with the HCPC. The HCPC keep a register of professionals, known as ‘registrants’, who meet their standards; and they take action if professionals on the Register do not meet said standards. All EPs working in private or public practice must be HCPC registered.
Parents and carers are increasingly seeking the support of private practitioners in the areas of medicine and education. The EA specifically provides advice in relation to the status of a private report and parents are advised to consult this. It is recommended that schools have due regard to any information brought to their attention in relation to a child’s needs, be it educational or medical. Schools thereafter need to determine the best approach for each case, and this could involve a consultation with their local EPS to determine the best way forward in line with their duty of care.