Peter Farrell: Reflections on my life with ISPA
Despite my long association with the International School Psychology Association (ISPA), the annual conference has never been to Manchester and so I am really pleased that this situation will soon be rectified and that the conference will take place in the city from July 19th – 22nd 2017.
The theme, ‘Supporting Vulnerable Children and Young People in an Uncertain World’ reflects the many challenges facing parents, teachers and communities in the ever changing and complex environments in which they live.
A growing involvement with ISPA
Thirty seven years ago, in July 1979, having recently been appointed to a full time post as academic and professional tutor to the EP training course at Manchester, I attended my first ever ISPA conference which took place at the University of York. At the time I was still getting used to working in the rarified environment of a university and was a bit of a novice when it came to presenting papers at international conferences.
I need not have worried. I found the atmosphere at the conference to be friendly and supportive. Delegates from all over the world were keen to share their experiences and to learn from each other. This atmosphere has been a consistent feature of all the ISPA conferences that I have attended and is as prevalent now as it was then.
Since 1979 my involvement with ISPA has grown steadily and I have now attended 23 of their conferences each of which takes place in July in countries as far apart as Australia, China, India, the USA and Canada although the majority take place in a European country. So, ISPA has become a part of my life. In 2001 I joined the executive committee as president elect and was president from 2003 – 2005. As Past-President I organised the programme for the ISPA conference in China and, since 2008, I have chaired the accreditation committee. Throughout this period my network of friends and colleagues from all over the world had grown considerably and this has enriched me greatly both personally and professionally.
What ISPA does
The ISPA website has lots of information about what it does. Its members come from over 50 countries and it is the only international organisation that supports the development of high quality research and practice in the field of school and educational psychology. Some of its key activities are:
- The annual conference that takes place at the end of July each year
- Publishing the International Journal of School and Educational Psychology, 4 times a year
- Publishing a Newsletter – World-Go-Round, 5 issues per year
- Ongoing committee work (e.g. European, Ethics, Research, Professional Development and Practice)
- Representation at the UNESCO NGO Liaison Committee meeting with a particular focus on Education and Children’s Rights
- International Crisis Response Training, with recent examples in Japan, India and Sri Lanka
- International Exchange Committee, enabling psychologists to visit colleagues in other countries
- Publication of international standards of school psychology practice and training
- International accreditation of school psychology training programs.
I look forward to welcoming EPs from the UK to the Manchester conference and hope they will benefit from this experience.