DEP: SECTION 1 – Introduction and Overview


The Doctoral Programme in Educational Psychology at the University of Southampton was established as an initial training Programme in 2006, accredited by the BPS as conferring eligibility for Chartered Educational Psychologist status, and recognised by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DfES) as enabling its graduates to work within Local Authority Children’s Services. From 2009 the programme was also approved as a practitioner training programme in psychology by the Health Professions Council (HPC), allowing fully qualified trainees to apply to join the register. In 2011, open-ended approval was given subject to major change.

The framework for the programme is closely linked to the requirements for professional training set by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the British Psychological Society (BPS). The programme was re-accredited in May 2017 and received six commendations.

The programme is taught and assessed via diverse educational and placement opportunities that are supported via academic teaching from the University and learning placements supervised by educational psychologists working in the field. The different components of the programme are designed to provide an integrated and complementary experience for trainees to allow them to make strong associations between the research, academic and practical aspects of the doctorate. The programme is designed to encourage trainees to effectively utilise an academic and research base to foster the development and subsequent implementation of evidence based practice in the field.

1.1 Core Purpose

A major tenet of the philosophy of the programme in Southampton is the integration of theory and practice within the twin frameworks of evidence-based, and evidence-generating practice. This approach requires the trainee both to select methods of intervention at all levels based on a critical evaluation of the published research on effectiveness of the approach (evidence-based) and to see practice as an important means of extending that knowledge base (evidence-generating).

The core purposes of the Programme are:

  • to train educational psychologists to work to the highest educational, professional and ethical standards of practice, enabling them to demonstrate the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) standards of proficiency (SOPs) and the BPS competencies (See Appendix 1).
  • to promote an inclusive approach to professional practice and encourage trainees to identify and build on the strengths children, young people , and those who work with them, bring to the consultation.
  • to equip trainees with the psychological and research skills needed to deliver a professional service and to contribute to the knowledge base of the profession.

1.2 Core Aims

The broad aim is to develop trainees’ knowledge, understanding and application of theory, using empirical evidence core to the practice of educational psychology in an environment in which there are frequent opportunities for critical reflection and personal review.

Specific aims are to:

  • develop trainees’ ability to apply and evaluate core knowledge of psychological theory and research in a range of child, community and educational settings across the age range and level of presenting problem.
  • provide trainees with a knowledge of central theoretical and empirical approaches to educational psychology.
  • gain experience of the application of theoretical models and therapeutic approaches to psychological problems in the child, community or educational field
  • acquire in-depth knowledge of specialist areas of interest.
  • develop competence as an applied psychologist with the critical skills and analytical abilities of a scientist practitioner.
  • develop trainees’ competence in research design in the field of child and educational psychology enabling them to work with key partners to conduct and disseminate robust evidence based research.
  • develop trainees’ ability to work independently and cooperatively as professionals in multi-disciplinary and multi-agency settings.
  • develop an understanding of professional issues associated with the practice of educational psychology.

The programme is structured to achieve its aims as follows:

Year 1

  • Knowledge and skill development through problem based learning and seminars at university
  • Research Methods
  • Independent study
  • Placement in pairs with a Field Tutor for 1.5 days a week for the year from October (60 days) in Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton
  • A small scale research project commissioned by the Local Authority

Year 2

  • Knowledge and skill sessions at university (Mondays)
  • Independent study
  • Placement in Local Authority through our bursary scheme (130 days)

Year 3

  • Knowledge and skill sessions at university
  • Independent study
  • Placement in Local Authority through our bursary scheme (130 days).
  • Research thesis

The core purpose and philosophy of the Programme is regularly reviewed through the Programme Board, with student representation; through its Advisory Committee of local practitioners, and through the Academic Unit of Psychology Education Committee. The Programme is also subject to review by the HCPC, its approving body and the University Periodic Programme Review. 

1.3 Approach to Learning

A problem-centred approach, which derives from the same problem-solving origins as many other psychological approaches to therapeutic intervention and consultation style is very much at the centre of the Southampton programme. The models drawn on are the revised Problem Solving Framework (Monsen & Frederickson 2008), the Gameson & Rhydderch (2008) Constructionist Model of Informed Reasoned Action (COMOIRA) and the Integrated Framework (Woolfson, L., Stewart, A., Whaling, R. and Monsen, J. 2003, 2008)1. The programme holds that the psychologist is there to facilitate change rather than take responsibility for the problem and aims to give experience of applying the problem centred framework at a number of levels:

  • at the level of an individual (approached either through direct contact, or through parents, carers or teachers, or in groups).
  • at the level of parents, carers or teaching staff, for example in in-service training or advisory work
  • at the level of the organisation, such as whole schools or agencies
  • at the level of policy maker, in local authority services

1.4 Staff Resources

The programme team consists of the following individuals:

Academic Support

Sarah Wright – Programme Director

Hanna Kovshoff – Research Director

Tim Cooke – Programme Tutor Year 1

Colin Woodcock – Programme Tutor Year 2

Klair Norman – Programme Tutor Year 3

Cora Sargeant – Programme Tutor Year 3

  • Year 3 curriculum and coordination
  • C.C.Sargeant@soton.ac.uk

Field Tutors

Ed Sayer – Field Tutor

Rachel Pawsey – Field Tutor

Caoimhe Weeks – Field Tutor

Emma Coleman – Field Tutor

Jess Bradley – Field Tutor

Chloe Allen – Field Tutor

Tammy Valberg – Field Tutor

Administrative Support

Angela Goodall – Programme Administrator

A strong feature of the programme is the role of the field tutors. These are educational psychologists employed in the local authority hosting the placement learning of trainees in year 1 in one or two named schools, typically a primary and a secondary school. The Academic and Professional Tutors are typically seconded educational psychologists with designated academic responsibilities to the programme.

Considerable research support (eg. thesis supervision) is provided by the academic and technical staff in the Academic Unit.

1.5 Physical Resources

The Programme is based within the Professional Training unit of the University’s Psychology Department.

The Programme’s accommodation includes:

  • access to a teaching room
  • office space for the Programme Administrators
  • offices for the Director and other Academic staff
  • computer suites in the main Academic Unit building (building 44) and elsewhere on the main campus

1.6 Academic and Research Resources

The programme has excellent research facilities, including access to the Academic Unit’s graduate research training and the University of Southampton’s generic skills programme. There are further opportunities for trainees to conduct their research theses in conjunction with the work of a number of research teams in the Academic Unit. Further information on the Academic Unit’s research divisions is available through the Psychology website at:  http://www.southampton.ac.uk/psychology/research/index.page

1.7 Libraries, Computing and Office Facilities

The University of Southampton Library

Trainees and Programme staff have access to the University of Southampton Libraries Services and Resources. The Library webpage www.library.soton.ac.uk allows users to search its catalogue (WebCat), recall and reserve books, renew items on loan and check their own borrower record. The Library makes available extensive electronic resources including Web of Science, Psyclit and several thousand electronic journal titles. The Library also provides access to material not held at Southampton by means of an inter-library loan service. Training in related library usage is provided in induction and at key points in the programme.

The Academic Unit Test Library

The Programme holds a number of developmental, educational and psychometric tests and intervention material which are available for trainee use under supervision on placement, or for research. Trainees can also expect to use resources available on placement www.psyweb.soton.ac.uk

Further information about the Test Library can be obtained from the Test Administrator Paul Reynolds P.Reynolds@soton.ac.uk

Computing Facilities

As part of the Academic Unit, the programme staff and trainees have access to the University’s Information Support Service (ISS) and other relevant support. These include computing facilities (e-mail, word processing, access to literature search facilities and on-line journals, qualitative and quantitative data analysis packages). Further technical equipment (video recording and editing equipment, tape recorders, etc.) is available through the Academic Unit. Additionally, trainees can obtain licensed copies of word-processing, database, spreadsheet and data analysis software packages for installation on their own computers www.software.soton.ac.uk. Several laptop computers are also available for use from Psychology.

Office Facilities

The Programme has use of a photocopier and fax machine housed within its Professional Training Unit. Trainee photocopying at the University is incorporated into the Programme budget and trainees are each given an individual code for use with the Programme photocopier.

1.8 Resources on Placement

The Programme aims to ensure that trainees have adequate facilities whilst they are on placement (please refer to Placement Handbook). The University iSolutions ensures home working is facilitated by a web-based arrangement, and emails are also accessible by this route.

1.9 Organisation and Structure

Accountability of the Programme and of the Director

The Programme is administratively placed within the Academic Unit of Psychology at the University of Southampton; it is also subject to the approval as a practitioner training programme by the HCPC. In addition, it is reliant on the placement learning opportunities provided by local Educational Psychology Services who offer placements co-ordinated through the SEEL Consortium placement panel:                                                                  www.ucl.ac.uk/educational-psychology/decpsy/bursary_placements_2018.html

Accountability to the Academic Unit of Psychology is via the Head of Pyschology and the Academic Unit Programme Board (AUPB). Accountability to the local authorities is via the Programme’s Advisory Group. Finally, the Programme ensures that it meets national standards for Educational Psychology training through the appropriate external validation procedures involving our External Examiner Dr Cathy Atkinson, University of Manchester.

The Educational Psychology Programme Board

The Programme Board is responsible for policy matters, whilst the Programme Team is responsible for the day-to-day operational management of the Programme. The Board ensures representation of all stakeholders’ views and interests. It receives, via the programme director, views from the Programme Advisory Group (see below); trainee educational psychologists (typically one or two per intake year); University (Head of Psychology or other members of Psychology as appropriate). The Programme Board also holds an Examination Board which meets at the end of each year.

The Programme Board meets two times each year and is concerned with quality issues, including student evaluation and curriculum development. Minutes of the Programme Board are sent to the AUPB.

The specific terms of reference of the programme board are:

  • to review and advise on academic and curricular matters of the programme
  • to consider student evaluation of the programme, and programme response
  • to consider recruitment and selection matters, and student numbers
  • to consider and advise on approval matters
  • to receive commissions from and report to the Psychology AUPB
  • to advise the School and programme team on individual student matters

Trainee Representation

Each year identifies one or two year representatives who take responsibility for trainees representing the cohort at Programme Board. The regular cohort team meetings give them the opportunity to ensure that they are able to represent their year group’s views. As key stakeholders, their role is to ensure that the views and interests of their respective year groups are represented. The expectation is that matters which could usefully have been first raised with the module lead, APT or Programme Director should have been shared prior to being raised at Programme Board.

Programme Exam Board

This meets at the end of each academic year in July and is the formal mechanism by which it is ensured that all trainees in Year 3 have successfully completed all the course requirements. It is also where any issues arising from external examiner comments can be addressed. It is also the responsibility of the exam board to address any special considerations.

The final award is awarded by the Awards Committee on the recommendation of the Programme Exam Board to candidates who have satisfactorily completed the course and have satisfied all the assessment requirements.

Programme Advisory Group

The role of the Programme Advisory Group (PAG) is to provide support and challenge to the programme and help ensure that the training programme continues to prepare trainees for placement and employment. It exists to represent the interests of placement providers involved in delivering the programme, to maintain good working relationships between those parties, and to provide a forum to exchange ideas, strengthen skills and share examples of good practice. It also exists to identify, and discuss any issues of common concern.  These aims will be achieved in and between meetings through formal and informal contact.

Membership of the group is open to anyone offering a placement to a Southampton trainee. If the Principal Educational Psychologist is not able to attend, a senior member of staff can deputise.

Meetings are held yearly with agenda items sent to the Programme Director/Administrator.

Geographical Boundaries

The programme at the University of Southampton currently operates as a national resource, with potential applicants from the UK.  As part of the SEEL (South East, East and London) Consortium, which has been contracted by the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) it is intended to meet the workforce requirements of Local Authorities in the three government offices in the South East, East and London regions. All placement learning takes place in Year 1 in Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton, and in Years 2/3 within the SEEL consortium.

Programme Funding

Funding for trainees in Year 1 is determined nationally by the NCTL. Trainees are expected to sign contracts with the NCTL. In Years 2 and 3 trainees across the SEEL consortium are allocated placements by the Placement Panel. Criteria for the allocation of placement include: place of residence/distance from placement base/estimated travel time; TEP additional needs; family circumstances eg. dependent children. Taking up a placement will be contingent on the successful completion of year 1 of the course and good attendance.

Trainees can express preferences for particular placements by selecting and rank ordering indicating distance from placement/estimated travel time and other personal circumstances relating to the criteria. While every effort will be made by the panel to place TEPs in one of their preferred placements, this cannot be guaranteed. The panel reserves the right to make the final decision in the interests of all TEPs. The bursary for Years 2 and 3 for September 2017 is £17,000 with some additional funding for travel to placement.

Monitoring of Programme Performance

In addition to the monitoring of teaching and learning at the level of the programme board, within the University, teaching programmes are formally reviewed regularly via a five yearly Programme Review, coordinated by Psychology and carried out by both programme staff and external representatives. The last review, undertaken in conjunction with the HCPC and the BPS was in June 2011. The programme received no conditions and a number of commendations. The next review is planned for January 2018.

As an additional measure of programme performance, employment outcomes for trainees are also monitored. Since 2009 all the trainees graduating from the course have successfully secured employment.

1.10 Selection and Registration

Nationally there are currently 150 funded places to study educational psychology in England. The annual intake at Southampton for 2016 is 14 funded trainees. We do not accept self-funding trainees. As a minimum, applicants are considered for the Doctorate in Educational Psychology programme at Southampton if applicants have:

  • attained at least a 2:1 in Psychology (or equivalent) and Graduate Basis for Registration (GBC) with the BPS at the time of application
  • provided experience that they have kept psychology as an on-going interest and a regular part of your CPD
  • provided strong evidence of the application of psychology in working with children and young people
  • sustained and relevant work with children in education, childcare, or community settings. A minimum of one year’s full time (or equivalent part-time) at the time of application. This can be all paid employment or at least nine month’s full time paid and 3 months voluntary relevant experience. This experience should enable them to demonstrate acquisition of the Common Core of Skills and Knowledge for the Children and Young People’s Workforce (CWDC 2010)
    • Effective communication and engagement with children, young people and families
    • Child and young person development
    • Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child or young person
    • Supporting transitions

Trainees are short-listed based on the evidence in their application which addresses the above criteria, as well as their personal statement and supplied references.

In addition applicants must be able to demonstrate a good command of English. If English is not a trainees first language he/she must be able to evidence a good standard of written and spoken English (100 for internet-based TOEFL, 250 for computer-based TOEFL, 600 for paper-based TOEFL or 7.0 for IELTS with no element below 6.5)

Selection for the Doctorate in Educational Psychology is undertaken in collaboration with educational psychology service managers from neighbouring local authorities who participate in the short-listing and interview process where they help facilitate the group task. Typically 40 applicants are invited to the University to one of four/five days. The process aims to explore applicants’ academic, research and practical applications of psychology as well as written, inter-personal and communication skills.

The attention of potential applicants is drawn to the requirement that trainees are expected to maintain their health and well-being throughout the duration of the programme and in line with the HCPC’s guidance on conduct and ethics, to let the programme director know if their health status changes.

The programme welcomes applications from people with disabilities and from ethnic minority communities.

Applicants offered a place are required to complete the University Postgraduate Application form before they start on the programme. This application form contains a question about criminal convictions and all successful applicants are required to apply for an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.  Further information can be obtained from the DBS website www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/overview

Disclosure of criminal convictions will be assessed on an individual basis according to the University student convictions policy
http://www.calendar.soton.ac.uk/sectionIV/student-convictions.html and the Academic Unit Fitness to Practice policy
http://www.calendar.soton.ac.uk/sectionIV/fitness-practise-draft.html 

Once on the course, trainees are directed to the HCPC Guidance on Conduct and Ethics for Students which require them to tell their education provider if they are convicted of, or cautioned for, any offence. In the case of a trainee disclosing a conviction or caution this would be dealt with on a case by case basis.

The University Postgraduate Application pack also asks about additional needs. Potential trainees are encouraged to declare any health condition and detail any adjustments that may be needed. Following an academic assessment of the application, the University’s Disability service may then invite a trainee to discuss particular requirements. Trainees do not have to declare any health conditions. Disclosure of health needs are assessed according to the University’s fitness to study and fitness to practice policies. All reasonable adjustments in line with equality and diversity law will be made, supported by a range of University services.

Once on the programme, it is the trainee’s responsibility, in line with the HCPC Guidance on Conduct and Ethics for Students, to maintain their health and well-being and to let the programme know if there is any change. Changes in health or well-being would then be considered in the light of the Academic Unit Fitness to Practice policy on a case by case basis.

All trainees are registered full-time with the University of Southampton. It is expected that candidates complete the Programme within the three year duration of the Programme. In exceptional circumstances, candidates may complete all parts of the examination within five years of first registering. Performance is reviewed throughout the programme. Unsatisfactory performance in academic, research or practical work may lead to termination of registration.