Evaluating the level of need for educational psychology services in England

  • Timothy Hooper

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


Background: The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) commissioned this project to research how much educational psychology service (EPS) may be needed in an English local authority (LA) context, with the objective to obtain a clear view of workforce shortages and future training requirements. Method: In Paper One, a systematic literature review (SLR), following PRISMA guidelines, analyses nine workforce planning models (WPMs) used in healthcare internationally and provides key, applicable findings for the educational psychologist (EP) workforce in England. The empirical investigation in Paper Two employs mixed methods, focusing on EPS delivery to schools in one LA; gathering the views of senior staff using focus groups and interviews within two primary and two secondary schools, establishing how much EP time they would commission if they had no funding restrictions. Descriptive statistics for these four schools are provided together with data from the LA EPS database; notional SEN budget per pupil is used to indicate the level of need in each school across the LA. Combining these sources of data and extrapolating the findings from the four schools, a model is created predicting how much EP time other schools across the LA might commission. Findings: The SLR provides a synthesis of key components, functionality and application of WPMs from a variety of healthcare professions, including regional and national examples. The empirical study reveals that all four schools would commission more EP time with sufficient funding; some detail of commissioning is provided. Across all primary and secondary schools in the LA, the model estimates a more than fourfold increase in commissioned time compared to current levels. Dissemination strategies include reporting findings back to The AEP executive committee and seeking to publish the research in an established journal; a detailed strategic plan is provided in Paper Three. Implications: The SLR reveals key considerations when undertaking workforce planning for application to the educational psychology workforce in England. Estimates from the model suggest the LA EPS would need to double their staffing to accommodate potential EP service demands from schools who may require increased SEN funding to enable increased commissioning of EP time. This research provides the first step towards creating a national workforce planning tool for EPSs, the DfE and the AEP.
Date of Award31 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKevin Woods (Supervisor) & Caroline Bond (Supervisor)


  • educational psychology service
  • commissioning
  • workforce planning
  • level of need
  • supply and demand

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