Document 12964255

Summary of the follow-through
evaluation of the educational
psychology service
A report by HM Inspectorate of Education
Midlothian Council
6 September 2011
The inspection
Continuous improvement
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
Midlothian Council Educational Psychology Services (EPS) in June 2010.
Some time after the inspection the service prepared an action plan indicating how
they would address the main points for action (MPA) identified in the original HMIE
HM Inspectors revisited the service in May 2011 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 MPA.
The EPS in Midlothian Council sits within the Education and Children’s Services
(ECS) Division.
2. Continuous improvement
The initial inspection report identified concerns about the way the service was led
and managed and its links with ECS. There was a lack of clarity about its remit and
a need to establish a culture of improvement planning based on strong
self-evaluation to allow it to demonstrate progress against agreed objectives.
Progress with planning for improvement has been limited since the HMIE Inspection
report published in June 2010. Changes which have been achieved have been
slower than might have been expected. Although the pace of change has increased
since the beginning of 2011, it is not yet possible for the service to evidence the
difference that the changes are making to service users.
Following the report of a Children’s Services Management Review in July 2010,
there has been significant restructuring of ECS within the Council. This has led to a
number of changes in the arrangements for line management of the EPS. The
current arrangements, where the EPS is line managed by the Acting Head of Service
(Children and Families), has been in place since March 2011. The EPS team has
undergone several changes within the past year, with some educational
psychologists (EPs) leaving the service and two probationer EPs being recruited.
There has been a reduction in the size of the team, from 7.8 full-time equivalent
(FTE) at the time of the initial inspection to 6.6 FTE at the time of the follow-through
inspection. EPs are in the process of relocating to join two multi-disciplinary locality
teams. The Principal Educational Psychologist (PEP) left the Council in December
2010 and the post was filled in an acting capacity from January 2011.
There are early signs of educational psychology being viewed more positively by
others working within ECS and by other services working closely with EPs. Schools
and other partners report that the EPS is beginning to become more collaborative in
its approach, seeking out opportunities to work with others to improve outcomes for
children, young people and families. Procedures for children and families to access
educational psychology are now clearer and a framework has recently been put in
place to improve the quality and consistency of the service they receive.
Consultation, assessment and intervention provided by the EPS continue to have
important strengths. EPs are beginning to be more involved in providing
professional development and training and their approach is well planned and
evidence based. They are proactive in seeking opportunities for involvement in
3. Progress towards meeting the main points for action
The initial inspection report published in June 2010 identified three MPA. HMIE
confirm that the service has made early progress in addressing two of the MPA and
very early progress in addressing the third. It is too early to determine the impact of
this progress on children and families.
Link self-evaluation to planning for improvement through leadership at all
levels and partnership working with key stakeholders.
Early progress is being made with this MPA.
The EPS is currently developing a stronger focus on improving its systems and
processes for self-evaluation. Psychologists are working together to decide on
suitable ways to evaluate the quality of their work with particular reference to its
impact on children and families. A recently agreed Team Plan has identified
improvement priorities for the service. However, more work is required to bring
service improvement planning into line with the planning and reporting cycle of ECS.
In order to demonstrate that it is delivering best value, the EPS needs to receive
suitable support and challenge from ECS. The EPS needs to put in place robust
systems to gather performance data and feedback on its performance from key
stakeholders. A newly established Stakeholder Reference Group has been set up
by the acting PEP to consult on service developments and planning. The group is
supported by the Acting Head of Service (Children and Families). ECS should
ensure that the work which has been started by this group is used to drive
improvements in the service provided by EPs.
Develop the EPS policy framework to guide practice within and across locality
teams and ensure understanding of roles and responsibilities across
Early progress is being made with this MPA
A Practice Guideline Development Framework has recently been put in place by the
acting PEP. This provides helpful tracking information on the progress made in
developing service polices and procedures. It identifies those policies which have
been put in place, along with those planned for future development and review.
Some guidelines are subject to a very lengthy consultation process which has
caused undue delays in implementation. There are, as yet, no practice guidelines in
place for some of the core functions of the EPS. A Performance Management
Practice Guideline has recently been produced to clarify expectations of staff and
outline procedures for managing the performance of individual EPs. It is intended to
link closely to the Continuous Professional Development Practice Guideline which is
not yet complete. Overall, further work is needed to improve the range of policies
available to EPs to guide them in their work.
Collect and analyse service and authority data to measure trends over time to
demonstrate improvements in performance for children and young people.
Very early progress has been made on this MPA.
There is limited evidence of data collection and analysis which would allow the EPS
to demonstrate its contribution to improving outcomes for children and families. The
service has recently made a link with the Performance and Planning Team within
ECS. This has the potential to assist the service in identifying appropriate data to
link its work to the Council’s objectives in relation to children, young people and
families. More rigorous arrangements need to be put in place to report on how the
EPS contributes to key council objectives.
There has been a significant delay in putting in place a service improvement plan
following the publication of the HMIE inspection report in June 2010. Improvements
in the leadership and management of the EPS are at an early stage and it is not yet
possible to demonstrate links between these improvements and better outcomes for
children, young people and families. The service is at an early stage in developing a
quality improvement culture and arrangements for self-evaluation and service
improvement planning are not yet sufficiently robust or embedded. There is now a
need for ECS to provide focused support and challenge to the service to allow it to
demonstrate that it is delivering best value. The service needs to ensure that the
pace of change is quick enough to support the delivery of effective educational
The HMIE Link Inspector and District Inspector will work with ECS to support
improvement. We will carry out a further visit in a years time to report on progress
with the MPAs and the extent to which improvements in the leadership and
management of the EPS have been sustained. The findings from this follow-through
visit will be shared with the Local Area Network as part of the Shared Risk
Assessment process.
Clare Lamont
HM Inspector
6 September 2011
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Crown Copyright 2011
HM Inspectorate of Education