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The training and practice of educational psychologists in relation to literacy difficulties

Dr Freya Maries-Collier
University of Manchester


The practice of educational psychologists (EPs) in working with children and young people with literacy difficulties and/or dyslexia (LitD/D) has been described as inconsistent. No research to date has reviewed the extent and breadth of EPs’ practice in this area. Given the uneven practice of EPs, the second paper aims to build a national picture of the range and type of training that Trainee EPs (TEPs) receive in relation to LitD/D and how this goes on to influence their professional practice whilst on placement.

The first paper reports a configurative systematic literature review (SLR). The content of 13 papers, published between 2000-2020, were thematically synthesised to establish the current practice of EPs in supporting children and young people with LitD/D. The second paper reports an empirical investigation in which five focus groups were held at five universities, with 24 TEPs in their second or third year of the three-year doctoral training programme. Transcripts were analysed thematically.

The SLR identified that EPs work to support children with LitD/D at individual, group and organisational levels, and across the five core functions of the EP role. However, the training and professional experiences of TEPs varied across the country, with some perceiving that identifying and supporting children with LitD/D was not indicated as a priority concern in their training. Despite this, TEPs acknowledged a desire to feel more competent in supporting children with LitD/D.

Although EP practice is inconsistent, the literature indicates that EPs have an important and unique role to play in working with LitD/D. There are implications for the content and approach of training programmes, and a need for a more directive role for national and professional legislation. Dissemination strategies for sharing the findings with the EP professional training community are proposed.

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