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Reflections on ‘A day in the life of a TEP’ event

July 30 2019, by and

On Friday 19th July we travelled to the BPS offices in London for an annual event organised exclusively for TEPs.

The event had been advertised as a unique opportunity to share experiences, knowledge and resources. As we sat on the train discussing our hopes and expectations for the day, it was clear that we were both looking forward to meeting other trainees from LAs across the country and at various stages of their journey, as this would provide us with a broader perspective of the role and the current working climate.

TEP Presentations

The day began with three fascinating presentations, the first of which was based on the speaker’s experiences on placement of supporting children with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The second focused on Gender Variance and the role of the EP, which resonated with us both given the growing prevalence in schools, and complexity of these cases. The final presentation explored the importance of acknowledging and understanding cultural differences in supervision. All three TEPs presented their ideas confidently and articulately and we noted how respectful the audience were, which created a safe and supportive environment.

Inspiring workshops

After a quick coffee break, we split into two groups for workshops on Dynamic Assessment and Therapeutic Story-Writing, both of which were very practical and enabled everyone to add to their toolkits. Two further workshops were held, where we heard about one TEP’s experiences of facilitating systemic change through coaching, and another’s ‘top tips’ on publishing academic work. These were not only inspirational, but also highlighted the diversity of the EP role and the potential impact we can have at the level of the child, the family, the school and the wider context of policy, legislation and research.

A TEP’s ‘Tree of Life’

After lunch we split into groups by our stage of training to complete a reflective activity using the ‘Tree of Life’ (Ncube, 2006). The Tree of Life (a psychosocial support tool underpinned by narrative therapy) was adapted to help facilitate discussion between TEPs about our current and previous experiences, our personal strengths, the important people in our lives and the gifts we have been given. This provided a valuable opportunity to explore a new tool, connect with one another and reflect on our experiences so far. Each tree was assembled around the room to form a ‘forest’, which we felt to be a powerful representation of the TEP journey from acceptance to completion.

Reflection on current practice issues

The final item of the day involved a carousel of 15-minute discussion groups, with TEPs having selected pertinent items they wished to open up for group discussion. Topics included:

  • The role of the EP in multiagency work
  • Children and young people’s voices in the diagnosis of Autism
  • The ethics of trading
  • Boys mental health

TEPs shared their personal experiences from placement and the role of the EP within these contexts was once again a focus for reflection. Trainees yet to embark upon their TEP course commented that these sessions in particular provided them with useful insights into the wider remits of the EP role.

Sharing a voice

As busy trainees it can be challenging to find time to attend events such as this, however we both agreed that this day provided an extremely valuable opportunity for networking and CPD. We were struck by the hugely supportive TEP community and left feeling inspired to ​contribute in some way next year, safe in the knowledge that anything we chose to share would be appreciated.

During his welcome, Dr Dan O’Hare (Communications Lead for the DECP) highlighted that the EP voice can be absent from key debates in education and therefore it is important that we, as TEPs, take opportunities to share our voices.

So… if you had thought about attending the ‘Day in the Life of a TEP’ event this year, but didn’t quite get there due to University assignments, placement commitments or final thesis amendments, we strongly suggest making it a priority for next July… you won’t regret it!


About Mair Hewitt-Stubbs

Mair is heading into her third year of doctoral training at the University of Bristol and is currently on placement in Wiltshire LA. She has a special interest in understanding and developing the EP role for post-16 and her thesis looks to explore the experiences of 'emerging adulthood' for young people with disabilities.

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About Jaime Smith

Jaime is (also) heading into her third year of doctoral training at the University of Bristol and is currently on placement in Swindon LA. She has a special interest in SEMH and her thesis aims to explore pupils perceptions of persistent school non-attendance.

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