Follow-through inspection of the education functions of local authorities Summary of evaluation of the educational psychology service Dundee City Council 9 March 2009 Contents Page 1. The inspection 1 2. Continuous improvement 1 3. Good practice 1 4. Progress towards meeting the main points for action 2 5. Conclusion 4 How can you contact us? 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 incidents. • Use of mind maps, as a service development and evaluation tool. 1 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. 4.1 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. 4.2 The EPS should involve all key stakeholders in service development and improvement 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. 2 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. 4.3 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. 4.4 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 action. 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. 3 4.5 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 4 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 www.hmie.gov.uk. 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 website: www.spso.org.uk. Crown Copyright 2009 HM Inspectorate of Education This report may be reproduced in whole or in part, except for commercial purposes or in connection with a prospectus or advertisement, provided that the source and date thereof are stated.