March 19th, 2017

Problems at School? Advice from an Educational Psychologist

Guest Blog Written By:
Batul Daulby (Al-Khatib)
Independent Educational Psychologist
BSc.(Hons), PGCE MSc. (Distinction), HCPC Registered

If your child has problems at school, you may have been advised to seek an Educational Psychologist (EP) assessment. What is an EP assessment and how might it help your child?

What is an EP and what do they do?

EPs are skilled assessors with extensive training in the many aspects of child development that affect learning. They can identify the factors that are holding children back. EPs are often employed by local authorities, they may work in their own private practice or they may provide assessments via clinics.

Why should my child see an EP?

Many children experience difficulty with learning at some point in their school career. Generally, it is good to nip problems in the bud and take low level action at an early stage. Either the school may raise concerns with you or vice versa. Together you can agree adjustments that can be made to support your child or a block of targeted learning support to plug any gaps. You may also be able to help your child catch up through some extra work at home. Usually, the situation will improve within a couple of terms, but if the problems persist it may be time to seek the help of an EP. 

How do I commission an EP assessment?

There are different pathways to obtaining an EP assessment depending on whether your child attends an independent or state school. If your child attends a state school and the school share your concerns, then it may offer to commission an assessment using its SEN budget. There will usually be a waiting list as the EP your child sees will likely be employed by the local authority. If your child attends an independent school then the school may raise concerns with you will be asked to arrange and pay for the assessment yourself. Sometimes parents have concerns about their child’s learning that are not shared by the school. As a parent, you may want an independent view and in this case, irrespective of whether your child attends an independent or a state school, you can commission your own private assessment from an educational psychologist.

 What will the process be like?

You will be asked for background information and after this the EP will meet you and your child either at school, at your home or in a clinic. They will talk to your child and carry out tests of intellectual development. These tests are extremely useful as they reveal the unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses which underlie your child’s learning and interactions at school. The EP will then pull their findings together to explain the problems your child is experiencing. They will feed this back to you in a meeting where you will be able to ask questions and you will be given advice on what to do next. Recommendations for learning support will be made and advice on suitable school environments may be given. The EP may suggest that your child undergoes further, more specialised assessments with other professionals, such as a paediatrician or speech and language therapist. You will then receive a report which will give you detailed information about the assessment and the recommendations.


  1. Follow up on hunches – You know your child best. Although state schools have a duty to identify a child’s SEN, reduced budgets and increased work pressure mean that things can get missed. Increasingly, difficulties like dyslexia are not considered a priority even though they can make life incredibly difficult for a child. 
  1. Act quickly – The sooner you understand what the problem is, the sooner you can get the right help for your child and prevent the problem getting bigger and more complex. Even if you discover via an EP assessment that there is nothing to worry about, this will put your mind at ease. 
  1. The EP is the first port of call – EPs provide a broad assessment covering all the different factors that may be affecting your child. Sometimes further assessments may be required from other professionals and your EP will advise if this is necessary. 
  1. Inform your school – Sometimes parents don’t want to involve the child’s school. The outcomes are always better if the school makes a contribution by supplying information to the EP. EPs are used to dealing with situations where there are diverging views on a child’s difficulties. They can read between the lines and will form their own independent view. 
  1. Share the EP report with the school – EP reports are valuable documents. They contain important information about your child that will help your child’s school understand what to do. If you are concerned about how the information will be perceived by the school, you should discuss this with the EP. EP reports are used to draw up EHC Plans (statements) and can be used as evidence in tribunals.


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