Follow-through inspection of the education functions of local authorities

Follow-through inspection of
the education functions of
local authorities
Summary of evaluation of the
educational psychology
Dundee City Council
9 March 2009
The inspection
Continuous improvement
Good practice
Progress towards meeting the main points for action
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1. The inspection
HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) published a report on the inspection of
Dundee City Council in November 2006 which included an evaluation of Dundee
educational psychology services (EPS). Following the inspection, the service
prepared an action plan indicating how they would address the main points for action
identified in the original HMIE inspection.
HM Inspectors revisited the service in November 2008 to assess the extent to which
the EPS was continuing to improve the quality of its work, and to evaluate progress
made in responding to the main points for action.
2. Continuous improvement
Since the inspection in November 2006 a new depute principal educational
psychologist (DPEP) had been appointed and there had been several changes in
staff. The EPS had responded positively to the inspection feedback and readily
incorporated the action points into their 2006-2009 Improvement Plan. The principal
educational psychologists (PEPs) and DPEP had created a clear agenda for change
in collaboration with service staff, senior education officers, and headteacher
colleagues. EPS staff, led by the senior management team (SMT), had become
more involved in evaluating their work and implementing improvements.
Since the initial inspection, there had been a clearer focus and improved
communication regarding service delivery particularly in relation to the advice and
consultation. Overall, stakeholders including staff in educational provision and
partner agencies had welcomed this development. The service had continued to
develop its knowledge and expertise in areas of trauma, attachment and nurture.
The service had made good progress in developing its administrative structures and
systems and had identified key areas of focus for staff development. The service
was well supported by the authority. The PEPs had made very good progress in
encouraging distributed leadership across the service.
3. Good practice
Transitions work, providing structured support to children, young people and
families at points of transition during their education.
Critical incident policy. The service has developed an effective and
comprehensive guide to support schools and services in dealing with critical
Use of mind maps, as a service development and evaluation tool.
4. Progress towards meeting the main points for action
The initial inspection report published in March 2006 identified five main points for
action. This section evaluates the progress made with each of the action points and
the resulting improvements for pupils and other stakeholders.
Service performance and improvement should be re-focused to tackle
impact and outcome for Dundee’s children and young people
The service had made good progress in this point for action.
The EPS had begun to review its service delivery priorities to enable it to better meet
the needs of the children and young people of Dundee and be more impact and
outcome focused. The EPS involvement in policy and guidance for the Education
Department was now making a difference. For example, through the recently
published Critical Incident Guidelines for schools. The service had extended the
range of training provided for staff to ensure a better match to the strategic
requirements of the authority. There was now EPS input to restorative approaches,
transition planning, attachment and nurturing, wellbeing and promoting positive
behaviour which had begun to improve outcomes for children and young people.
The EPS had effectively contributed to Learning and Teaching in Dundee roll-out
training and were now at an early stage of discussion regarded their role in
Curriculum for Excellence developments. The service had developed sound links
with partners working with Looked After and Accommodated Children, and
educational psychologists (EPs) were jointly delivering training to foster carers with
social work colleagues. The EPS had been commissioned by the authority to look at
parenting initiatives across the city and were at the early stages of developing a
parenting strategy. The Education Department and the EPS should build on this
good progress and seek further opportunities for the service to improve outcomes for
Dundee’s children and young people, including the use of targeted research.
The EPS should involve all key stakeholders in service development and
The service had made satisfactory progress in this main point for action but was
aware that more needed to be done.
The service had made a number of improvements. They had produced new leaflets
for children, young people and families, importantly involving young people in their
development. The EPS had proactively met with a range of key stakeholders
including health and education staff to consult and update them on service
developments. Working agreements had been established with all educational
provision. While this was at an early stage of development the EPS had clear plans
to use the information gathered from these agreements to further improve service
delivery. The service had also recently met with colleagues from the health service
to develop a joint practice guideline for transition to nursery education. Staff
recognised the importance of ensuring continued joint working practices in meeting
the needs of all children and young people.
The EPS had made a good start to establishing closer working partnerships with a
number of key stakeholders in the improvement and evaluation of the service.
However, there was a need to extend further the range of stakeholders involved in
service development and ensure that the new developments were embedded in all
aspects of practice.
Need for greater challenge from education authority and principal
educational psychologist in relation to service performance
The service had made good progress in addressing this action point.
The service now had in place its full SMT supported by the Head of Support for
Learning. The SMT met regularly to evaluate progress and prioritise next steps.
The education authority was active in supporting and advising the PEP in moving
forward service developments. The PEPs provided strong leadership in addressing
the action points arising from the inspection in November 2006. Staff were well
supported through the new management structure. EPs used evaluative language to
discuss their work and were able to provide examples of improved impact. The EPS
will be reviewed on a regular basis as part of the extended review process within the
authority. The service and the Education Department should consider how challenge
to the EPS could be delivered outwith the more formal review process.
Service policy and planning should be more closely linked to
department and local authority priorities
The service had made very good progress towards meeting this main point for
The EPS had increased effectively its profile within the city over the past two years.
There was now wider recognition of the positive contribution the service made to a
range of policy and organisational tasks such as support for learning, training and
transitions. Representatives of the service were part of the Education Department’s
Extended School Review teams for special provisions and nursery schools. The
PEP was an effective member of the extended management team and contributed to
the Education Department Development Plan. The DPEP had a lead role in the
development of integrated children’s services across Dundee.
EPS activities had been linked to the Education Department’s priorities and this was
reflected in the current service development plan. The service was well represented
on a number of strategic authority groups. The involvement of the PEP in the
extended management team allowed the service to contribute to the department’s
development plan and priority setting. A number of EPS practice guidelines have
been further developed to become education department guidance. For example,
additional support needs and early years transition guidelines.
The Service should develop a comprehensive Management Information
System (MIS)
The service had made good progress towards meeting this action point.
The service had developed and accessed a range of databases to provide more
accurate information about service performance. This included the authority-wide
‘support for pupils’ and self-evaluation databases. The EPS administrative staff had
played an important role in developing information forms for use by EPs to develop
more consistent practice across the service. This enabled the service staff to focus
more clearly on the impact of their interventions. The service effectively used mind
mapping approaches to track service developments and initiatives, including the
status of practice guidelines, and EPS development plan priorities. While the service
had made good progress in this area further work was required in ensuring that
information systems track the impact and outcomes of its work on behalf of children,
young people and families in Dundee.
5. Conclusion
The education authority, PEP, DPEP, and staff group had worked hard in taking
forward a number of important developments across the service. As a result of
improvements in service focus and development, the needs of children and young
people in Dundee were being met more effectively. Children, young people and
families, and a number of key stakeholders, were more actively involved in the
development and improvement of the service. Overall, the PEP and service staff
demonstrated the capacity to manage change effectively and continuously improve
the quality of their work.
As a result of the overall good progress achieved by the service towards meeting the
main points for action, HM Inspectors will make no further visits in connection with
the report of November 2006.
Anna Boni
HM Inspector
9 March 2009
How can you contact us?
HMIE Feedback and Complaints Procedure
Should you wish to comment on any aspect of follow-through inspection of
educational psychology services, you should write in the first instance to
Annette Bruton, HMCI, HM Inspectorate of Education, Denholm House, Almondvale
Business Park, Almondvale Way, Livingston EH54 6GA.
If you have a concern about this report, you should write in the first instance to our
Complaints Manager, HMIE Business Management and Communications Team,
Second Floor, Denholm House, Almondvale Business Park, Almondvale Way,
Livingston, EH54 6GA. You can also e-mail [email protected] A
copy of our complaints procedure is available from this office, by telephoning
01506 600200 or from our website at
If you are not satisfied with the action we have taken at the end of our complaints
procedure, you can raise your complaint with the Scottish Public Services
Ombudsman (SPSO). The SPSO is fully independent and has powers to
investigate complaints about Government departments and agencies. You
should write to the SPSO, Freepost EH641, Edinburgh EH3 0BR. You can also
telephone 0800 377 7330 (fax 0800 377 7331) or e-mail: [email protected]
More information about the Ombudsman’s office can be obtained from the
Crown Copyright 2009
HM Inspectorate of Education
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