EP Training: Jumping from year 1 to year 2
In Year 2 you are often and quite suddenly expected to take on a patch of schools, accept referrals, discuss trading and other such EP activities, sometimes with little understanding of how to do all of these things.
From Year 1 to Year 2
My experience of EP training is that Year 1 is a transition year, allowing students to ‘get back into’ attending lectures and enabling them to get used to the university environment, the tutors and their course mates. At Uni, the first term had the highest proportion of university lectures over 3 or 4 days a week. In addition, we paired up and had a placement in a school or early years setting where we had the opportunity to practice our newly learnt skills and assessment techniques and think about theory in practice. From January to July, we undertake a placement within an Educational Psychology Service (EPS) where the focus is very much on us learning about how a service runs, whilst being closely supervised by an educational psychologist (EP).
On entering Year 2 I relied heavily on my previous experience as a Psychology Assistant and believe that I would have struggled more with managing my diary and workload if it were not for that. This is not to say that the service that you belong to in Year 2 have not appropriately considered your role or that your Year 1 supervisor has not adequately prepared you to work independently – it’s an inevitable part of the ‘learning curve’
Ideally, at the end of Year 1 you will have done some, or all, of the following:
- Accepting and talking through a referral with a member of school staff
- Independently negotiating your role with a school
- Formulating hypotheses regarding a specific pupil or situation and showing how your actions and work undertaken aligned with these
- Managed your own diary, making appointments and allowing time to reflect and write up school visits.
These experiences will lend themselves well to how you begin your placement in Year 2. It may be worth a discussion with a course tutor or your placement supervisor if you do not feel that you are having opportunities to experience these skills.
First things first
Once in Year 2, I found it helpful to initially block out time to shadow EPs and negotiate this as necessary with my supervisor. I emailed out shadowing requests to other EPs who had caught my eye. Arrange to visit your schools and make the purpose of these meetings to meet with the head teacher or SENCo to get to know the school building and layout, the range of pupils’ in the school and their needs, and to understand how EP time has been used previously. If they wish to discuss a particular case in more detail then it is important to ensure that you have parental consent to do so.
Year 2 can start well if it is clear which schools are yours and if you have a key contact for each of them. I remember being wary of making a phone call in the office so sometimes email can be a happy medium, just don’t put off making a phone call forever as it will eventually become a necessity! Little things, like knowing which is your desk in the office, knowing where you can put your lunch or make a cup of tea and knowing how to access files, both on- and offline, can create a working environment that promotes a sense of calm and belonging. This can do wonders for your nerves at the beginning of your placement.
A couple of things that helped me out at the beginning were finding someone that you could ask your ‘silly’ questions to (FYI, no question is silly; it is something that you either should have been taught and have not been, or are learning about). This person might be your supervisor, another friendly face in the office or an older trainee. (Older in terms of training rather than age!) I also remember tripping over the title of ‘trainee educational psychologist’ and feeling like the person on the other end had already tuned out by the time I had finished saying who I was. When I made those (dreaded) phone calls, saying that I was ‘Emily calling from Educational Psychology’ slipped off the tongue but in any conversations with people it was important that they knew I was a trainee EP.
Update: This blog was updated on 30th September 2016 to include additional information about the first term of EP training at Emily’s university.