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Letter to Michael Russell from Drew Morrice

20th January 2012

Michael Russell
Cabinet Secretary for Education
and Lifelong Learning
The Scottish Parliament
EDINBURGH
EH99 1SP

 

Dear Michael


Removal of Funding for Post Graduate Professional Training of Educational Psychologists in Scotland

I am writing on behalf of EIS and our Educational Psychologists National Network.

The EIS has welcomed the opportunity to join the Educational Psychologists Workforce Planning Group.  It was nevertheless disappointing that there appears to be no scope to defer a decision on the removal of funding support pending a more detailed discussion through the Workforce Planning Group on a full workforce audit to identify future need and to consider alternative funding models.


The EIS is fully cognisant of the current financial problems faced within education.  However, the decision to bring the post graduate qualification for Educational Psychologists route into line with other post graduate courses funded by Education misses the fact that the 2 year training and the probationary year are required to meet HPC/BPS requirements to practise as an educational psychologist.


As a consequence we are fearful that few will give up employment to study for two years with a probationary year to follow.  This may impact on both the numbers and quality of prospective students.


It was stated at the workforce planning meeting on Wednesday 11 January that the post graduate course for health clinical psychologists will also be brought into line with general post graduate provision.  We doubt that the health service will tolerate being exposed in the way that education services are being exposed.


The EIS believes the Dundee course, which is due to commence this autumn, is now at risk which raises concern that there will be a significant problem in recruitment.  As you will be aware this will impact disproportionately on outlying areas in Scotland.


The survey conducted by ASPEP clearly sets out the risk Scottish Government is taking.  The EIS believes that what the ASPEP survey does not address is the level of service cuts hitherto experienced within educational psychological services across the majority of Scotland’s Councils. 
 

The EIS commends the ASPECT report.  However, we fear that staffing shortages will prevent our educational psychologist members from making a stronger contribution across education as a whole as recommended in this report.


Indeed we fear that the psychological services will be run on a crisis management basis and that Scottish Councils will be further exposed to risk of legal challenge. We believe that this will also impact upon Scottish Government’s commitment to improving the potential of all children as set out in the ASN Act, GIRFEC and CfE. We fully endorse representations made to you by ADES and SOLACE.


You are aware of our commitment to teacher numbers.  There is a need equally to establish a national staffing standard for educational psychologist services against which the ASPEP survey could be considered.  This would allow a projection against which demand could be reasonably established and which would allow a more detailed debate on the supply side.


The EIS is asking Scottish Government to defer a decision on longer term funding arrangements, to maintain the current arrangement for the course which will start at Dundee in the autumn of 2012 and in the meantime to consider both demand issues and alternative funding models.


The EIS reserves its right to make public comment on this matter.


Yours sincerely

Drew Morrice
Assistant Secretary