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North of England Aspiring Assistant EP mentoring programme

There is growing interest within the educational psychology profession to ensure the profession is diverse, inclusive and reflects the range of individuals and families we work with

The landscape…

The most recent information about this can be found in the Association of Educational Psychologists Equality Diversity and Inclusion Member Survey ReportA mentoring pilot is currently in place in some areas for those who are qualified within the profession who feel they are marginalised or under-represented. We wanted to look at how we could develop a mentoring scheme for those who do not yet have ‘a foot in the door’ to the profession.  

There is a fledgling but growing mentoring scheme which is currently offered to trainee educational psychologists (TEPs) on the doctoral training programme at Manchester University. During the 2022-2023 academic year, some North West EP services along with the University of Manchester committed to widening the scheme to pilot supporting aspiring assistant educational psychologists (AEPs) who feel they are in some way in a minority within the profession. 

We want to support positive action within the profession to improve diversity and inclusion and reduce the barriers some individuals may experience. Whilst being an Assistant EP is not essential to become an EP and we also acknowledge this is a small pool of those trying to get into the profession, we knew we needed to start somewhere. This is just one pocket of ongoing work that services are taking part in to address this issue.  

Mentoring Criteria 

We developed criteria for those interested in the mentoring scheme, which includes that the individual:

  • Self-identifies as belonging to a group underrepresented in educational psychology, for example, Disabled; BAME; religious group; Neurodivergent; LGBT+; or financially disadvantaged communities.  
  • Have previously applied for an assistant educational psychologist position and been unsuccessful (at the application or interview stage) – Individuals are not eligible if they have previously held a general Assistant Psychologist role.
  • Meets eligibility criteria for an AEP post i.e. a BPS accredited degree qualification (undergraduate or masters)
  • Is located in the North of England. 

It has been important to ensure that the mentoring programme is manageable for all parties whilst still being flexible to each individual need. The time commitment is negotiable between the mentor and mentee but it is suggested that mentoring takes place over three to four sessions. 

The aim is for volunteer ex-assistant EPs who are current TEPs or EPs to act as mentors for aspiring assistant EPs who may be under-represented in the profession. Aspiring assistant-EPs are sent information about the mentoring scheme following unsuccessful interviews and can choose whether they would like to ‘opt in’ to the programme. 

Mentee’s hopes for mentoring

We gathered some of the views of the mentees. Most aspiring assistants wanted to take part in the mentoring scheme to get a better understanding of the application of psychological theory in their role and to seek advice about applying for assistant posts. 

Understanding the role of an Assistant EP was also seen to be important. Most aspiring AEPs had applied several times for assistant posts, with some applying up to 15 times. Applicants reported that they felt they had not been able to demonstrate the application of psychology and that there was a high calibre of other applicants.  

Evaluation of mentoring pilot

All mentees shared that they felt the mentoring had been beneficial for them, with the mentor supporting them with application advice, understanding the role of an assistant educational psychologist and how to apply psychological theory to their experiences. Mentees shared that this supported them both to apply for assistant roles and to prepare for interviews. Most importantly, all mentees reported increased confidence in applying for assistant EP roles and explaining their experiences. 

What next…

We plan to continue the mentoring programme for the next academic year with some clearer evaluation to help us in understanding the barriers individuals are facing in accessing the profession and the impact of mentoring for these individuals. We are keen to connect with other EP services in the North of England who may be interested in joining this scheme.  

For more information or expressions of interest, please get in touch with Catherine Kelly at Manchester Uni.

Note from edpsy: You can find a whole range of mentoring resources on our site

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