Midlothian Council Educational Psychology Service
Improvement Through Self-Evaluation
This document builds on existing self-evaluation information and provides the
rationale and context for validated self-evaluation (VSE) activity.
Background Factors
Midlothian Council Educational Psychology Service (EPS) is located within the
Education, Communities and Economy division and the Principal Educational
Psychologist (PEP) reports directly to the Head of Education. The PEP is a member of
the Education - Schools team and the Education leadership team. Within this team
the PEP role is to provide strategic leadership of the EPS and has responsibility for
leading research and evidenced based approaches to supporting and challenging
schools to raise attainment. Recent changes within the wider Education leadership
team with particular relevance to the EPS include the addition of a School Group
Manager with responsibility for additional support needs.
The EPS staffing has remained at 6.3fte (including PEP) for the last 18 months. There
have been some recent changes due to retirement and maternity leave. At present
the EPS supports a second year trainee from Strathclyde University and a first year
trainee from Dundee University.
The work of the EPS embraces all areas of the education service and supports
developments and projects as they emerge across the year. We embrace the
drivers for improvement to support the achievement of positive outcomes for
Midlothian learners.
We have complemented this model by clarifying what we mean by positive
outcomes for children and young people to inform and measure progress. Using the
‘miracle question’ from solution focussed approaches, the image below shows the
outcomes we would expect to see ’if the miracle happened’. We have mapped
these onto the eight indicators of wellbeing.
As much of our work is with and through others we need to ensure that we seek
evidence of positive impact on a range of stakeholders or service users who work
directly with children and young people.
Follow-Through Inspection – February 2014
The inspection in June 2010 led to follow-through visits in September 2011 and April
2013. During the visit in February 2014 HM Inspectors noted the significant
improvement in the quality of educational psychology delivered and as a result the
impact of educational psychology. The following key strengths were identified:
Greater ambition for Midlothian’s children and young people and a clearer
vision for education
Strong leadership
Increased coherence amongst the team of Educational Psychologists (EPs)
Stronger partnership with stakeholders
Much closer alignment with the work of the council and council objectives
Good practice included research and development at Education and
Authority level, a partnership approach to supporting professional
development at Authority level and promoting evidence based approaches
in education
HM Inspectorate identified the following actions:
Ensure arrangements for the line management of the EPS remain stable and
that appropriate support and challenge are in place to assist the service to
continue its improvement journey
Explore approaches to improvement planning which are forward and
outward looking
Continue to develop and embed the SLA and keep the policy framework
under review
We have taken these on board and have embedded these within the quality
framework to ensure they support our continuous improvement process.
Where are we now?
What key outcomes have we achieved?
The strategic themes in our improvement plan are linked to the objectives
determined by the single outcome agreement set out in the Single Midlothian Plan
and the education plan which demonstrates increased cohesion and synergy
between our work and the work of the Midlothian Council. During 2014/2015 we are
working to deliver two key outcomes:
Improved attainment; attainment and achievement gaps are closed
Improved emotional health and wellbeing for children and young people
We continue to inform and contribute to action plans in relation to literacy,
numeracy, learning and teaching and health and wellbeing through which we
actively engage colleagues with research to develop evidence based approaches.
The targets set in the team plan for session 2013-2014 were successfully met and
appropriate progress is being made towards targets set for this session.
Midlothian Data:
We use data gathered by Midlothian Council performance and planning team to
inform improvement planning and measure impact. In Midlothian there is an
improving trend in relation to attainment but it is recognised by all that this is not as
strong or as consistent as it should be and therefore there is a focus across Education
on improving learning in order to improve attainment. The role of the EPS in
supporting and challenging leaders and teachers to provide better learning is
central to this.
It is anticipated that in future years we will be able to demonstrate greater impact
and more positive trends with this data due to the improved and more focussed
approach to development work. This data is used to focus the work of the Education
and Children & Families monthly management team meetings. From this targeted
interventions and reviews are carried out and the EPS takes a key role in this.
September 2014 indicators are provided below:
 Child protection: 66% decrease over 2 years since September 2012.
 Attendance: Primary school average attendance was higher than in
September 2013.
 Exclusions: Primary school average exclusion is lower than last year.
 Pupils educated outwith Midlothian: 35 pupils in total (maintaining the positive
reduction achieved over the last year).
Areas for improvement:
Looked after children: 98 children Looked After At Home (LAC) and 216
Looked After Away from Home (LAAC). There is an increase of 29 looked after
children in the last 2 years and this is due to a 48% increase in the numbers of
Attendance: secondary school average attendance for September 2014 was
lower than in September 2012 and 2013.
Exclusions: secondary school average exclusion rate was 8.7 per 1000 and
was higher than in September 2013.
EPS data:
In addition to the above we note the following outcomes as the result of specific
research and development work carried out by the EPS:
Reduction in the number of requests for external placements through the 5
journeys research and related work to improve the processes for assessing
and meeting needs. The multi-agency resource group (MARG) actively uses
the research to challenge ourselves and others to change practice to
improve outcomes for you people. There are a range of case examples to
support this.
6 primary schools have completed the Confident Staff, Confident Children
course and 19 will complete this session. The course has also been delivered
to a group of ASN Outreach teachers, residential unit staff and all visiting
specialist teachers. This is focussed on addressing the health and wellbeing
needs of children and young people and staff. Course evaluations and
ongoing work with schools and ASGs demonstrates impact on staff, school
planning, collaborative working and therefore greater capacity to meet
learner needs.
Achievement of targets set for children and young people through
consultation, assessment and intervention as recorded through the plan, do,
review process and multi-agency approaches.
Outcome themes are
detailed later in this report.
Positive impact on the implementation of curriculum for excellence through
the learning to learn professional developments which focussed on the
language of learning, cognitive skills, learning intentions, mindsets and visible
Awareness raising and engagement with the research of John Hattie has had
an impact on leaders, the focus of career long professional learning
opportunities available to all staff and the approach to improving learning in
Midlothian. This will be explored further through the VSE process. Informal
feedback from stakeholders indicates that by raising the profile of research,
supporting staff to engage with research and making it relevant to their
practice, practice is beginning to change.
Completion of a pilot training course for foster carers on risk taking behaviour
as part of the Midlothian GIRFEC plan (specialist intervention sub-group). This
was a partnership approach with NHS Lothian Healthy Respect and
Midlothian Council.
Feedback from carers indicated improved
understanding, knowledge, empathy, confidence, patience, knowing why
young people behave the way they do, being less judgmental, or becoming
a better listener.
Team plan
Task plan
Impact measures
Confident Staff, Confident Children evaluations
Outcomes recorded for children and young people
GIRFEC report
Risk Taking Behaviours – evaluation report
How well do we meet the needs of our stakeholders?
In November 2013, in line with our quality improvement framework we sought
feedback from authority staff and partners who identified greater impact for
children and young people through the delivery of key processes at all levels. We
recognised the need to consolidate the improvements made, deliver consistency of
practice and continue to develop wider partnership working and professional
development opportunities. Given the changes in the EPS these have been
consistent themes within feedback from a range of stakeholders and EPS staff. To
support this, service delivery has remained consistent this session and opportunities
for partnership working and professional development are actively pursued. We
continue to gather feedback informally from authority staff and partners and publish
this quarterly on our website. This confirms that we are continuing to deliver high
quality educational psychology to, develop partnerships with and build capacity of
a wide range of staff who work directly with children and young people to meet
their learning and wellbeing needs.
We seek feedback from schools each session about levels of satisfaction, impact
and how we can improve this. Following one year of a service level agreement
being in place schools describe the EPS as more visible, accessible and responsive to
the needs of schools while also promoting inclusion of children and families in
planning to meet their needs. They acknowledge our wider strategic involvement at
school and associated school group (ASG) level and that we continue to deliver
positive outcomes for children and young people. Schools value the role we have
taken in building capacity through a range of professional development
opportunities. We need to embed the positive changes made to service delivery
and it is anticipated that the positive working relationships we have established will
enable this and will lead to further positive outcomes for young people. The
alignment of this approach with ASG and school improvement planning processes
has increased the potential impact of the EPS.
The question ‘how can we work with secondary schools to have greatest impact?’
was a recurring theme through support and supervision. The stakeholder reference
group in May 2014 was used to explore this with secondary colleagues and partners.
It was clear that EPs carry out a range of tasks within the context of working with
secondary schools and schools and partners value these and the EP as a key
resource in meeting learner needs and supporting staff. It is recognised that this is
the start of a process to review how we work together and it allowed us to identify
what was working and use this to guide improvements this session. As a result of this
there have been some changes to the service level agreement for work with
secondary schools to enable EPs to prioritise early intervention work with schools and
join existing school mechanisms for identifying work in relation to individual pupil
needs and planning as well as supporting professional development or strategic
work. The impact of this will be monitored throughout the year and through end of
session review meetings.
Improving outcomes for children and young people is the focus of all the work we
do. We continue to ensure that children and young people are central to planning
for their needs and that their voice is heard. Our approaches to managing
meetings ensure that children and young people and their families are empowered
to make a contribution and this was recognised in feedback from schools. Impact
of EP work through consultation, assessment and intervention is recorded through a
plan, do, review system in which outcomes for the child or young person are now
being explicitly identified and recorded. A summary of this showed a range of
outcomes for young people, some of these were specific to the individual needs
and context, but the following themes can be identified:
appropriate progress in learning
planning and review through IEP process
greater confidence (pupil and family)
learner understanding of themselves
adult understanding the learner
regulation of emotions and/ or behaviour
reduced anxiety
additional support for the family
no further involvement of EPS
Ongoing engagement with parents and carers through our work in schools tell us
that we continue to communicate and engage well with parents and they are
positive about the quality of advice and support they receive.
In line with good practice we seek feedback from children and young people and
parents and carers at the end of a piece of work and acknowledge that the
response rate is not high. We look for more creative ways to ensure that the views
and needs of children and young people, parents and carers influence our selfevaluation and improvement planning. This year we used the information from the
Midlothian stakeholder survey (all pupils) to guide improvement planning and to
contextualise development work for school staff so that it has greatest relevance
and therefore impact e.g. visible learning, 5 journeys. Within other areas of our work
such as the application of John Hattie’s research, ‘my plan, my voice’ and
practitioner enquiry we are building the capacity of all to seek the views of learners
to focus interventions and maximise impact for learners. We regularly participate in
wider parental engagement events and use these events to share information, seek
feedback and when possible participation in development work. We have taken on
board parental preference and we ensure that families (and all stakeholders) have
easy access to information about the work of the EPS through a variety of social
media tools.
Quality framework
Service level agreements
Examples of partnership professional development – Early years masterclass,
Cognitive Abilities Profile training, dynamic assessment training, joint
development meetings with Children and Families/ Education Welfare
Officers and CAMHs
Comments, compliments and complaints
Stakeholder reference group minutes
Standards and quality newsletter (Feedback from schools)
Midlothian stakeholder survey
Parental engagement events
Website, twitter, newsletters
How good is our delivery of key processes?
The quality improvement framework and model of service delivery ensures that we
know how well we are delivering the key processes of consultation, assessment,
intervention, professional development and research and use this evidence to
inform improvement planning and innovative approaches to the delivery of these
processes such as through practitioner enquiry. The impact of how well we deliver
the key processes is demonstrated by the positive impact we have on stakeholders
and our overall performance. We are confident that we are making improvements
to key outcomes and have a positive impact on all stakeholders.
The features of good practice highlighted by HM Inspectorate in February 2014
continue to be developed and embedded in our approach to service delivery to
ensure greatest impact:
Having considered the factors which affect the impact of development work
the 5 journeys research is now embedded within the Confident Staff
Confident Children programme to ensure that all staff in Midlothian engage
meaningfully with the key messages. Through the use of a coaching
approach staff are supported to consider how they can make a difference
for our most vulnerable children and young people.
5 journeys research methodology has been used in another setting to inform
service re-design to ensure inclusion of young people in their local community
while effectively meeting their needs (to reduce exclusion, improve
attendance, attainment and achievement).
The key messages from the 5 journeys work and data available about
attendance (particularly for LAC) has led to exploration of the issue of
reduced attendance. We know from our own research and national
research that reduced access to and engagement in education has a
detrimental effect on outcomes for young people and their families. This
piece of work aims to improve full-time access to education in order to
improve outcomes for children and young people.
A joint research project with children and families (Education Welfare Officers,
EWOs) and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) has been
negotiated to explore how we can improve attendance at school in order to
improve inclusion, attainment and achievement for young people.
Use of John Hattie’s evidence base to support the implementation of
curriculum for excellence, build capacity for self-evaluation, engage
teachers in a practitioner enquiry approach to career long professional
learning and support newly qualified teachers (NQTs). The visible learning
approach to implementing Hattie’s research supports teachers and schools
to evaluate their impact to ensure they have the greatest effect on student
Partnership delivery of a practitioner enquiry course for teachers with a visible
learning focus.
New ‘spotlights’ to support strategic developments
Leadership CLPL
Visible NQTs programme
Practitioner enquiry course
CSCC training course
Joint presentation with Keith Millar (Top Service) on 5 journeys work and its
impact at the annual conference for EPs in Scotland
Joint meetings with EWOs and CAMHS
How good is our leadership?
The professional leadership of all EPs has continued to grow and strengthen the
overall impact of the EPS, this is evidenced in a variety of ways and in particular the
standards and quality newsletter and improvement plan.
Feedback from
stakeholders confirms this. Participation in the VSE pilot has enabled EPs to further
develop their leadership skills and commitment to self-evaluation. Partnership
working is encouraged both across the team and with partners and there are higher
levels of joint working on professional development and research projects. EPs are
supported through a range of professional development opportunities to ensure that
we are able to continue to deliver high quality educational psychology which has a
positive impact for children and young people.
This session ‘breakthrough’ time has been included within the EPS time allocation
model. The purpose of this time is to encourage team members to take more
ownership of their professional learning and to ensure we actively utilise our
collective knowledge, skills, experience and interests. Twice per year (December &
June) the team will share the outcomes and impact of their development with the
team. The impact of this new approach is not yet known but we anticipate impact
for staff and ongoing EPS improvement.
EPS plan
Standards and quality newsletter
Team engagement in VSE planning process
Feedback from stakeholders
Individual ownership of leadership responsibilities
Team activity calendar
Improvement through self-evaluation
The quality improvement framework was introduced in 2013 and we have
demonstrated that this is an active framework which guides our gathering of
feedback and evidence in a timely and well planned manner. This allows us to use
that evidence to inform improvements which focus on outcomes for young people.
The work carried out this session to clarify what we mean by outcomes for young
people has helped focus approaches to self-evaluation. We have adapted the
‘self-improving school systems’ model for educational psychology to provide a series
of support and challenge visits with West Lothian and Stirling and Clackmannanshire
(soon to include East Lothian) EPSs. During the follow-up inspection in February 2014
HM Inspectorate encouraged us to take account of good practice outwith
Midlothian, we have done this in a variety of ways and will continue to do so. As a
result of our continuous improvement journey we are increasingly looked to for
examples of good practice.
All areas of work and approaches to self-evaluation support us to build leadership
capacity across the team. The synergy between the work of the EPS and the wider
education team and council gives energy and momentum to our capacity for
continuous improvement. This will be further enhanced through the VSE process.
Quality framework
Participation of DPEP from Glasgow City EPS at stakeholder reference group
Requests for information following workshop at annual conference
Requests for information from other services
Informal feedback from other services and local authorities
Peer support with other PEPs
Engagement with national organisations such as visible learning (Osiris)
Early Years masterclass with Galina Dolya (flyer) which included colleagues
from Borders, West Lothian, East Lothian and Edinburgh city
Leadership conference: visible learning which involved colleagues from
Tobermory High School, Hodge Hill Primary School (Birmingham) and Craig
Parkinson (Orisis)
Validated self-evaluation
The two agreed themes for EPS VSE are ‘learning and teaching’ and ‘partnership
working’. Building on previous follow-through inspection activity and our own cycle
of self-evaluation and improvement planning we have identified the following tasks:
Evaluate the impact we are having on learning and teaching through the
application of John Hattie’s visible learning research
Evaluate the impact we have had through a partnership approach to career
long professional learning and research to improve outcomes for children
and young people in Midlothian.
We have chosen to incorporate leadership across the two themes and aim to
answer the following:
How well we have developed the leadership of all EPs to ensure impact and
outcomes within the two themes.
The three overarching questions for this process are:
How are we doing? (outcomes)
How do we know? (evidence)
What are we going to do now (improvement)
In order to ensure that the VSE process helps us to close the gap between where we
are now and where we want to be, we need to ensure the following features:
An appropriate range of activities
Commitment to self-evaluation from all
A range of evidence is used
A full and appropriate range of stakeholders are involved
We challenge ourselves and others
Strong evaluative questions are asked
A focus on outcomes for children and young people
Scoping documents for each theme provide further details and identify the selfevaluation questions and activities that will help us answer the overarching
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