Educational psychologist involvement with critical incident response

  • Rebecca Dunne

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


Critical incidents (CIs) affect all areas of life including school communities with negative impacts upon children and young people being reported. Research indicates that CI response is a strand of educational psychologist (EP) work that many educational psychology services (EPSs) are now offering across the UK and USA (Posada, 2006). By their very nature, CIs are sudden and unexpected therefore, this thesis examines how EPs may be involved with CI response and the ways in which an online resource could assist with preparedness and immediate response. A systematic literature review (SLR) of the different types of support which EPs offer to schools following a CI was undertaken. An empirical study explored the possibility of creating an online web-based resource for EPs and school leaders when responding to a CI in their school community. This involved the adoption of action research principles with a task and finish group of five qualified EPs from the North West of England. Eleven papers were identified within the SLR, detailing ways in which EPs respond to CIs within school communities. Findings revealed some similarities amongst practice with some key differences, particularly around EPs’ decisions to engage in direct work and influencing factors including capacity, training and service delivery response. Empirical research led to the development of a web-based resource for EPs and senior leaders to use in the event of a CI. Project management factors were found to successfully facilitate this including conceptual, human and technical skills. Implications for theory are considered including the proposal of a Model of CI Response, explaining why some EPs engage in direct work and others do not. Implications for EPs, school leaders and the DfE are discussed, alongside possibilities for future research. Paper three considers the role of evidence-based practice for EPs and effective dissemination methods. Implications for professional practice in the field are outlined including the benefits of collaborative working, the need for EPs to become more digitalised and perceived barriers and facilitators to EP project work. A plan for dissemination details how the research will be shared in order to raise awareness, understanding and lead to action.
Date of Award31 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKevin Woods (Supervisor), Caroline Bond (Supervisor) & Tee McCaldin (Supervisor)


  • educational psychologist
  • school psychologist
  • critical incident response
  • project management

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