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Western Education & Library Board,
1 Hospital Road,
Omagh, Co Tyrone,
BT79 0AW

Telephone: 028 8241 1411
Fax: 028 8241 1400
Email: info@welbni.org
Textphone: 028 8241 1550

Educational Psychology

Statement of Purpose

"To provide an effective, efficient, equitable, high quality service to children and young people in the age range 0 - 19 in the context of learning, emotional and behavioural difficulties and where possible to prevent these difficulties arising"

Principal Educational Psychologist
Senior Educational Psychologist - Omagh
Mrs C Coburn T: 028 8241 1394

E: claire_coburn@welbni.org

Senior Educational Psychologist - Fermanagh
Mrs S Burns T: 028 6634 3900 E: sue_burns@welbni.org
Senior Educational Psychologist - Derry
Mrs J Finn T: 028 7186 4780 E: joan_finn@welbni.org
Senior Educational Psychologist ASAS - Derry
Mrs M Martin T: 028 7186 4780 E: marie_martin@welbni.org




Child Guidance Centre   
24 Dublin Road, ENNISKILLEN, Co Fermanagh, BT74 6HN   T: 028 6634 3900   
Educational Psychology Service   
Maydown House, 1 Maydown Road, Londonderry, BT47 6UF T: 028 7186 4780
Educational Psychology Service    
WE&LB, 1 Hospital Road, OMAGH, Co Tyrone, BT79 0AW  T: 028 8241 1411  







Typically an educational psychologist working within Northern Ireland will have the following qualifications:

  • An Honours degree in Psychology or equivalent

  • A recognised teaching qualification

  • Either:
    (a)   not less than 2 years full time teaching experience; or
    (b)  5 years full time experience of working as an Educational Psychologist with a recognised Education Authority in Great Britain or elsewhere

  • A post-graduate professional training - currently MSc in Educational and Developmental Psychology


During their professional training an educational psychologist will study:

  • normal and abnormal child and adolescent development

  • the development of children's cognitive, social, physical, emotional, behavioural, play and communication skills

  • the psychological aspects of educating children with disabilities, special needs and specific syndromes

  • children's attitudes, self-concepts, motivation and personality styles

  • the psychology of learning and teaching

  • family influences on development and functioning

  • the rights of parents and children

  • legislation relating to Education, Special Education and Child Welfare

  • neglect, deprivation and abuse

  • school influences on child development and educational progress (e.g. classroom management, parent involvement, school organisation, teacher expectation, teaching methods)

  • specific issues such as inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream education, bilingualism, bullying, grief, loss and trauma, special schools and units, travellers' children

  • the role of other relevant professionals

Educational psychologists acquire skills in:

  • teaching

  • assessment and testing

  • problem solving

  • training others

  • counselling

  • intervention

  • research

  • information and communication technology

Educational psychologists enhance and develop their knowledge and skills through professional development which includes attending courses, keeping up to date with current research and developments and acquiring additional qualifications.


Referrals to the Educational Psychology Service may be made by those who have concerns about a child's social, emotional and educational development. The Educational Psychology Service recognises that while there are many children who might be considered for referral it should be borne in mind that the Service has the capacity to carry out individual assessments on approximately 2% of children and young persons in the age range from birth to 19 years.

Pre-school referrals
Pre-school children whose development is causing concern may be referred by a number of people, for example, parents, doctors, paediatricians, health visitors, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and nursery teachers.

School-age referrals
Regarding referrals to the Educational Psychology Service procedures are laid down in the Code of Practice for the Identification and Assessment of Children with Special Educational Needs.

In keeping with the Code of Practice it is expected that the needs of children will have been addressed through Stages 1, 2 and are currently working at Stage 3, with close involvement of parents, before a school will consider referring a child to the Educational Psychology Service for individual assessment. It is intended that in the future the Service will engage in an early intervention, preventative approach in collaboration with schools which will significantly reduce the numbers of children being put forward for individual assessment. This will have the dual effect of reducing waiting times for those children who do require individual assessment and of enabling psychologists to use other skills in which they are trained, for example, research, projects and in-service work in their schools.

A key feature of the Code is the 5 Stage approach, which is summarised as follows.

"1.8 In recognising that there is a continuum of needs, the Code sets out a five stage approach to the identification of children having learning difficulties, the assessment of their special educational needs and the making of whatever special educational provision is necessary to meet those needs. The first 3 stages are based in the school, calling as necessary on external specialists; at Stages 4 and 5 the Board shares responsibility with schools."

Stage 1 

teachers identify and register a child's special educational needs and, consulting the school's SEN co-ordinator, take initial action

Stage 2

the SEN co-ordinator takes lead responsibility for collecting and recording information and for co-ordinating the child's special educational provision, working with the child's teachers

Stage 3

teacher and the SEN co-ordinator are supported by specialists from outside the school

Stage 4

the Board considers the need for a statutory assessment and, if appropriate, makes a multi-disciplinary assessment

Stage 5

the Board considers the need for a statement of special educational needs; if appropriate, it makes a statement and arranges, monitors and reviews provision

In order to make the referral, the standard referral form is to be completed by the school and the parent and forwarded to their named psychologist.

The Code of Practice places great emphasis on parental involvement in the identification and assessment of their child's special needs. It is vitally important that the completed referral form is shown to, discussed with and signed by the parents, who in doing so are giving their permission for the assessment. Psychologists will not assess children without parental permission.

It is expected that the detailed record keeping required of schools by the Code of Practice at all Stages will provide the basis for the comprehensive information to be included in the referral form. To this form will be attached copies of the Education Plans and outcomes of review meetings. In order to achieve as full an assessment as possible it is important that the wealth of information acquired by the school over the years is made available to the educational psychologist.

It is widely recognised that parents and schools may have different views of a child's needs because they each see children in different settings.

In the interests of acting fairly referrals are normally taken up in date order of referral; however, some priority may be given to pupils with severe emotional and behavioural disorders. Schools are advised to prioritise referrals and will be given assistance in doing so by their psychologist.

Referrals from other sources
Referrals may be made for example, by parents, Education Welfare Service, Board Officers (Special Education and Transfer sections), Community Paediatricians, GPs, Health Visitors, Speech and Language Therapists and Social Services. Occasionally older pupils may refer themselves.

It should be noted, however, that where appropriate these referrals will be brought to the attention of the school with a view to ascertaining the school's perspective. Statutory Assessment, which must be completed within the time scale set out in the Code of Practice, will be given priority.

Private psychological assessments and reports
An educational psychologist in the employment of the Western Education and Library Board will not accept referrals for private assessment of children resident within the Board's area.

If a child has had an assessment by a fully qualified educational psychologist not employed by the Western Education and Library Board, it is helpful if the Board's educational psychologist is made aware of this, preferably together with the findings, prior to assessment. This is to ensure that testing by the Board's psychologist is not distorted by the effects of practice.

In the event of a parent providing a private educational psychologist's report to the Board's Educational Psychology Service he will be advised to contact his child's school if this has not already been done. The school will advise the parent as to the child's position with reference to the stages of the Code of Practice and may refer the child to the Board's Educational Psychology Service if and when deemed appropriate.

The Board will not make special educational provision as the result of private assessments as this would be to the disadvantage of those children solely dependent on assessment by the Board's psychologist.