Education Scotland Foghlam Alba

Education Scotland
Foghlam Alba
Summary of the follow-through
evaluation of the educational
psychology service
A report by Education Scotland
The Moray Council
20 December 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
The Moray Educational Psychology Services (EPS) in January 2008. 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. An interim report
on the service’s progress was published by HMIE in June 2010.
HM Inspectors (HMI) revisited the service in October 2011 to assess the extent to
which the EPS was continuing to improve the quality of its work, and to report on
further progress made in responding to the main points for action.
2. Continuous improvement
In the last year, the EPS has experienced significant change, which has impacted on
the whole staff team and delivery of services across the authority. In recent months,
the acting Principal Educational Psychologist (PEP) has been appointed to the
principal’s post on a permanent basis, an acting senior has been appointed and
three probationer educational psychologists (EPs) have joined the service.
Throughout this period of change, the service has continued to be involved in a
range of well-considered interventions to support positive outcomes for children,
young people and their families. The PEP has established a strong team ethos and
a clear vision and direction for the service. There is greater emphasis and
commitment to continuous improvement among the wider educational psychology
team. They have ensured a strong focus on continuous improvement in their policy
development and casework evaluation process. The new staff team is involved in an
appropriate range of authority working groups and service tasks. The PEP, and her
senior management team, has communicated clearly and openly with school staff.
They have also put in place innovative approaches for service delivery, including the
use of Group Consultation, to help them meet their statutory duties.
The service is now more outward looking. It has strengthened its collaborative
working with colleagues from neighbouring authorities and seeks best practice from
across Scotland to improve outcomes for children and young people, for example
their work on dynamic assessment. The service has continued to strengthen its role
in supporting the implementation of the health and wellbeing strategy through its
work on nurture and as part of the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. The
EPS has recently introduced Seasons for Growth to The Moray Council. The service
continues to work effectively with partner agencies, for example, social work and
allied health professionals.
3. Progress towards meeting the main points for action
The initial inspection report published in January 2008 identified three main points for
action. Education Scotland confirm that the service has made effective progress in
each of these resulting in improvements for children, young people and families.
Ensure that targets for improvement show clearly the intended impact and
outcomes for stakeholders, particularly children and young people.
The EPS team has worked well to review and improve their service improvement
plan to focus on impact and outcomes for stakeholders. The broad focus of many of
the targets is on ensuring high quality evaluated services across the authority. Steps
have been taken over the past year by the PEP and senior staff to reduce variability
and develop clear service wide expectations built on evidence-based practice. As a
result, staff are now clearer about evaluating interventions, including at case work
level, to demonstrate the impact in their involvement on individuals, schools and
In response to an area of development highlighted in the interim follow-through
report, the service has successfully reviewed its staff allocation. The new system
better meets the needs of children and young people and ensures equality and
fairness across the authority.
The EPS now needs to build on this positive start. Improvement planning needs to
be more effectively linked to service and authority-wide planning. The service should
identify a more manageable and focused number of targets to help determine its
priorities and clarify outcomes for children and young people.
Systematically involve all stakeholders in service development and
improvement activities, particularly with regard to the development of a
research programme.
The PEP has made communication with stakeholders a priority. She has engaged
positively and proactively, particularly with headteachers and parents during the
recent staffing difficulties. In almost all cases, stakeholders involved in interviews
and focus groups are clearer about the expectations they can have of individual EPs.
Appropriate feedback mechanisms have been put in place to gather information from
parents and schools including, for example, Stakeholder Focus Groups.
School staff welcome the greater consistency of practice across the service and find
the practice level agreements helpful in prioritising the work of the EPS. All primary
schools completing questionnaires agree that links with the service are effective.
They also think that EPs keep them well informed about the progress of negotiated
work. Secondary school staff feel that EPs are committed to improving the quality of
their work and that they respect the confidentiality of families and staff. From
interviews and focus groups it is clear that a few education authority staff groups are
not yet sufficiently well informed about the role, function and contribution of the EPS
in relation to school improvement, assessment and all aspects of Curriculum for
Excellence. Education authority staff recognise that partnership working with the
EPS could be strengthened to better support their work with children, young people
and schools. The EPS engages effectively with stakeholders in a variety of forums
including, for example, the Mental Health Cabinet, Early Years Strategy and the
Health and Wellbeing Group. The EPS is aware that further development is required
to obtain high quality feedback from children, young people and their families
regarding their views of the service.
The service has continued to strengthen and promote their research capacity, with
the support of the educational psychology assistant. Last year, they published a
range of ‘Occasional Papers’ through the Educational Service weekly bulletin and
the EPS internet site. Examples include strategic flexibility in maths and helping
children to cope when someone dies. The service has published leaflets for
children, parents and schools relating to non-attendance on the authority internet
site. The EPS is engaging more effectively with school staff on a number of
research proposals. This commissioning approach has built on the good practice
developed in relation to the autism survey commissioned by the Head of Educational
Support Services. The service is using this approach more widely to support
research developments with other authority staff groups and partner agencies.
Review policy and planning arrangements to improve the quality and
consistency of services delivered across the authority.
The service has focused well on improving the consistency of practice across the
EPS team. The EPS now has a culture of self-evaluation and reflection embedded
in all aspects of its work. They have redesigned their team meeting process to
support continuous improvement. Opportunities are built in for structured
supervision, reflection and sharing practice issues as well as disseminating good
practice. A number of policy documents have been created to support practice
development and consistency including, for example, those on consultation and
assessment. The team, well supported by the administrative staff, has developed
service wide records and proformas to improve consistency, quality and
accountability regarding the outcomes of their involvement. Individual EPs are now
more consistent in their approaches to service delivery and their work is valued by
partners, parents and young people. Appropriate professional arrangements are in
place to support probationer EPs.
The EPS has worked well together to establish a clear shared identity, philosophy
and purpose. This clarity of purpose should allow them to contribute fully to the
wider changes within Education and Social Care. The EPS has productive ongoing
dialogue with senior education managers in relation to service focus and
4. Conclusion
Since the original inspection, there have been a significant number of changes
across the service. Through strong leadership, an effective working relationship with
senior education officers and close team working, the service now has a clear sense
of direction. Staff meetings and service development days have been thoughtfully
used to identify service strengths, and consider next steps based on stakeholder
feedback and inspection reports. The PEP and all EPs show an enthusiasm and
commitment to delivering consistent high quality services for children and young
The PEP is highly regarded by service staff, school leaders, senior colleagues and
partner agencies. She has handled a range of complex and challenging staffing
issues very effectively, communicating well with the wider education community. We
are confident that she will continue to drive forward service improvements for
Moray’s children and young people.
In light of the considerable improvements across the service, their ability to address
the main points for action and their planning for future improvements there will be no
further visits in relation to the original inspection. In collaboration with the District
Inspector, the EPS Link Inspector will maintain routine contact with the service
providing support and challenge as part of the Shared Risk Assessment process.
Anna Boni
HM Inspector
20 December 2011
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