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Leading Edge Psychology days

These days are organised on behalf of the four year groups on the DEdPsy programme and open to all EP practitioners. The structure of the day is well-established and involves both research and practice components of selected topics which are delivered by established researchers and innovative EP practitioners (an illustration appears below). Leading-edge days, led by expert researchers and practitioners in a particular area, have so far included well-being in adolescence, neuropsychology and EP practice, recent developments in ASD, resilience and looked-after children, understanding dyslexia, multi-professional teams and cognitive behaviour therapy.

Forthcoming Leading Edge Days

The next Leading Edge Day will be held on Tuesday 28th March 2017 and the topic is What does resilience mean for educational psychologists? Concepts and applications. ** Please note that this course is now full. **


Recently Held Leading Edge Days

19 April 2016 - 'Austerity: How Should Educational Psychology Respond?'

Leading Edge Day 2016 photosThis Leading Edge Day asked the question "How should educational psychology be responding to the consequences of a national policy of economic austerity?" There is a distinction to be made between the personal response (which may be political) and the professional one which involves acquiring knowledge of the evidence on the psychological impact of low socioeconomic status and the most effective forms of educational and psychological intervention in a context of significantly reduced resources. This successful LE Day sought to present current evidence on the cognitive and social impact of being a child in a poor family, to identify interventions which have had demonstrable impact with minimal resource requirements and to enable all participants to develop an assertive and positive professional response to the challenges presented by austerity to schools, children, young people and families.

Keynote speakers included Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington (Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at the LSE and visiting researcher to the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo), Sherria Hoskins (Head of Psychology at Portsmouth University) and James Richardson (Senior Analyst at the Education Endowment Foundation, an independent grant-making charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement).

You can access presentations from the day by clicking on this link

16 April 2015 - 'Educational Psychologists and infant mental health?'

Leading Edge Day 2015 photosDespite a history within Child Guidance clinics, the profession of educational psychology has, particularly in the past year, been focused primarily on the implementation of the SEND reforms. However, the mental health agenda has continued to call to us. A clear rationale for our work in this area is provided by the current context, with the work around the parity between physical and mental health the recognition of mental health needs within the new SEND Code of Practice, and increased awareness of the connection between emotional wellbeing and learning outcomes. Even more recently, and building on the prevention and early intervention initiatives, a number of strands have led to the identification of perinatal and infant mental health as areas in which commissioners now need to focus.Whilst a recent focus has been on work with young people 16+, given that an EP's responsibilities start from birth, it is important to maintain close attention to advances in understanding infant mental health. The focus of infant mental health is on the optimal social and emotional development of infants and toddlers within the context of secure, stable relationships with caregivers (Zeanah & Zeanah, 2001). This includes within-child factors, caregiver-infant relationships and environmental factors. Is there then a role for EPs? Over recent years EPs have strongly embraced attachment theory as a basis to inform many aspects of their work.

This extremely popular Leading Edge day provided an opportunity for practising EPs to hear about current theory and practice from internationally renowned researchers and innovative practitioners in the field of attachment and infant mental health, to consider the implications of theory and research for the promotion of mental health and well-being across the life span, and to learn about possibilities for intervention in this area. Keynote speakers included Professor Pasco Fearon, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology and joint Director of the UCL Doctorate Programme in Clinical Psychology, Professor Jane Barlow, Professor of Public Health in the Early Years at Warwick University, Dr Paul Ramchandani, Reader in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Imperial College and Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Dr Shami Rait, Senior Educational Psychologist in Buckinghamshire and Penny Rackett, Educational Psychologist and Advanced VIG Supervisor in Suffolk.

Click here or on the image shown above to view larger pictures from the event

You can also access presentations from the day by clicking on this link

3 April 2014 - 'Educational Psychologists working for 16-25 year olds: What are the possibilities?'

Leading Edge Day 2014New special educational needs and disabilities legislation and guidance extends the role of educational psychologists to work with young people up to the age of 25 years. For the majority of educational psychologists this represents a journey into uncharted waters. It will be necessary for EPs working both in local authority and also private practice to re-imagine aspects of their role and, in particular, to embrace an understanding of the psychological concerns of 16 to 25 year olds and processes that emphasise person centred planning. This day represented a timely opportunity for EPs to hear first hand accounts about emerging developments and to consider the implications for their own practice and practice settings.

This extremely popular and well attended day boasted a range of speakers including Linda Jordan, Vivienne Clifford, Dr Sandra Dunsmuir and Dr Sarah Wright, and aimed to gain knowledge about what can be learnt from the SEND pathfinders and the FE sector; to deepen a psychological understanding of the needs of 16-25 year olds with special educational needs and disabilities and the possibilites of EP practice; and to stimulate consideration of 'What this means for me'.

Click here or on the image shown left to view larger pictures from the event

You can also access presentations from the day by clicking on this link

18 April 2013 - 'The changing landscape of special educational needs and disability legislation and procedures: Implications for educational psychologists'.

Leading Edge Day April 2013In the context of wider educational reforms across the education system, including the national curriculum reform, changes to funding systems and the diversification of educational settings, the special educational needs and disability landscape is undeniably changing. Once again there is an opportunity for educational psychologists to actively shape the future contribution that they and psychology can play, not least through the various SEND Pathfinders that are taking place across England. A succession of reviews, reports and draft legislation has begun to set out key themes for this changed landscape, including: an emphasis on better connected planning for children and young people aged from 0 to 25 years of age with complex SEND; the development of effective child and family centred practices; clarity over what resources and provision are locally available; personalised budgets; support for parents when things don't go well; and, questions about the over-identification of children with SEND in some schools.

This particularly well attended and successful Leading Edge Day assisted participants in better understanding and engaging with the context of wider educational reform and the changing SEND landscape, promoted reflection upon what can be learnt from current experiences on Pathfinder Projects and stimulated consideration of where EPs' efforts in the future might be best located.

Keynote speakers were Andre Imich, SEN and Disability Professional Adviser at the DfE, who is currently engaged on the implementation of the next steps of the Green Paper and previously worked as an adviser to the Lamb Inquiry into parental confidence; Dr John Oates, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at The Open University and academic consultant to the OU/BBC Child of Our Time; Michael Cotton, Principal EP North Yorkshire who drafted North Yorkshire's successful special educational needs and disability Pathfinder bid and is now seconded to lead this work and Dr Julia Katherine, Principal Educational Psychologist for the Isle of Wight and Southampton Psychology Service and joint lead for the Southampton SEND Pathfinder including the design and implementation of the integrated assessment model.

Click here or on the image shown left to view larger pictures from the event

29 March 2012 - 'Young people with severe social, emotional and behavioural difficulties: What can Applied Psychology offer to stressed teachers and parents?"

Leading Edge Day March 2011Educational Psychologists, engaging in planning consultations with secondary schools and supporting young people in their families and communities, are regularly asked for advice and support for young people whose behaviour appears to be uninhibited, unpredictable and unfathomable. Such children are likely to be disengaged in lessons, defiant to staff, have difficulty engaging in positive peer relations and may engage in a high level of risk taking behaviours both within and outside school. Often they show a flagrant disregard for the conventions of the school and the community and an inability to consider long term aspirations, or indeed their own current safety.

This extremely well attended Leading Edge Day examined questions such as: To what extent are these behaviours influenced by within-child, family, school and wider contextual issues? What can current research from Neuroscience and psychology tell us about adolescence and the best ways to support these young people and their families? Do answers to these questions contain specific implications for educational and child psychology practitioners? Current research in the topic area was reviewed and a number of innovatory interventions being carried out by educational and child psychology practitioners were discussed, with a view to consider the most appropriate methods of managing this problem.

Keynote speakers were Professor Judy Hutchings, a chair at Bangor University who has researched and published widely in a number of topics relating to behavior, including conduct disorder, anger management and in teacher classroom management, Dr Catherine Sebastian, a postdoctoral researcher at the UCL Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology whose most recent publication is a study of the neural bases of cognitive and affective Theory of Mind processing in adolescents with conduct disorder, and Dr Caroline White, a consultant clinical psychologist and head of the Children and Parents Service for Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation. Caroline's specialist research interest is in cognitive aspects of parental wellbeing and she has also organized workshops nationally on the 'Incredible Years' programme.

28 March 2011 - 'Persistent Non-Attendance at School: Anxiety, Phobia, Avoidance or ODD Behaviour"

Leading Edge Day March 2011Students fail to attend school for a variety of reasons; non attendance may be due to a particular anxiety regarding the school experience (for example, the student may fear a particular teacher or the school features, such as corridors or the student may be rejected by their peers). Alternatively, the young person may be anxious about leaving parents. For the majority of students, these problems are usually resolved quickly and the student returns to school. However, there is a minority who continue to refuse to attend school over a prolonged period of time (Purcell and Tsverik, 2008).

School refusal is a problem that is stressful for the children, their parents and their teachers . Failing to attend school has significant short- and long-term effects on children's social, emotional, and educational development. School refusal is often associated with co-morbid psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression, so it is important to identify problems early and provide appropriate interventions to prevent further difficulties. However, the assessment and management of school refusal require a collaborative approach that includes the child, parents, school staff and support professionals from the caring agencies

This well-attended leading-edge psychology day reviewed past and current research in this area, inviting delegates to develop a better understanding of the needs of those children who are refusing to attend school by considering the most appropriate methods of managing this problem and hearing about a number of innovatory interventions being carried out by clinical and educational psychology practitioners.

Keynote speakers were Dr Nigel Blagg, a self-employed educational pschologist who wrote the pioneering book on 'School Phobia' and is Director of NBA Solutions Ltd, Dr Katherine Lawrence, a Clinical Psychologist working in the Berkshire Child Anxiety Clinic with children aged 7 - 12, many of whom have difficulty attending school, and Prof Ken Reid, Chair in Education at Swansea Metropolitan University, who has been carrying out research into non-attendance at school for many years and is the author of 15 educational books and 52 journal articles, including a number on persistent school absenteeism and truancy.

8 September 2010 - 'Mental Health for Schools'.

This conference aimed to support psychologists who work in education and children's services to reflect on the contribution they can and should make in this area, by providing an up-to-date overview of recent developments in research and practice. Norah Frederickson presented an overview of recent evidence on the assessment of children's mental health and psychological wellbeing in school settings and on whole school approaches in this field, illustrating the subject with examples from research on school-connectedness and sense of belonging. Sandra Dunsmuir examined the growing involvement of educational psychologists in cognitive behaviour therapy, analysing the training and supervision needs associated with this development and drawing on recent course evaluations at UCL and ongoing research on the analysis of video-based supervision.

External speakers included Miranda Wolpert and Michael Annan. Miranda Wolpert is leading the DCSF-funded national evaluation of the TAMHS project which involves 5 universities and 40 local authorities. This study, which is due to being completed in 2011, is poised to make a unique contribution to the evolution of child mental health services in the UK because of its incorporation of a randomised controlled trial as a central element of the evaluation. Michael Annan is leading a TAMHS project in Hackney and Stacy Moore, who is a course member on the CPD Doctorate at UCL, is Educational Psychologist to a number of the schools in the project. They reflected on how their thinking about schools and mental health has developed as a result of their involvement in the project and their engagement with schools and mental health services over the years. The portfolio of Measures of Children's Mental Health & Psychological Wellbeing edited by Norah Frederickson and Sandra Dunsmuir and published by Granada Learning was on display during the day, and there will be an opportunity for discussion with some of the section authors about the use of the materials

29 March 2010 - 'Applied Psychology in the Community: Do EPs need to get out more?'.

This intriguing sentence was buried deep in the detail of the report on the function and contribution of EPs to the ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda: but unfortunately for the profession, there was little information provided on how such a move into the community should be accomplished - particularly with regard to kinds of activities that could be construed as 'community psychology' projects, potential benefits of such activities for families, schools and communities, whether traditional school-based work by EPs can be extended into the community and whether community-based practice is an appropriate use of scarce EP resources.

This lively and stimulating day discussed and evaluated the potential of such a practice shift, some examples of the employment of applied psychology in a community setting and considered the constraints and possibilities of working outside the school gates.  Some of the potential benefits of community-based work emerged and a few avoidable pitfalls were highlighted, with the help of keynote speakers Prof Carolyn Kagan, Director of the Institute for Health and Social Change, Dr Alex Linley, University of Warwick, Dr Kevin Rowland, SEP Worcestershire, Dilanthi Weerasinghe, SEP Waltham Forest and Veronica Lawrence, SEP Northamptonshire.

Click here or on the images below to view a picture slideshow of the event [pdf]:

leading edge day photos

9 September 2009 - 'Motivation and empowerment during organisational change'.

The conference aimed to support psychologists who work in and with education and children's services, drawing on an up-to-date understanding of what is known about organisational change during a period of major change and upheaval in the organisations for which we work. In the morning we heard presentations from colleagues who have researched and consulted on processes of organisational change. In the afternoon, in response to those presentations and the questions and discussions that are stimulated by them, three colleagues who hold current senior management posts in contrasting educational psychology services outlined recent and current changes in their service and in its local context, commenting on perceived key resonances and implications for educational psychology services from the morning presentations and from recent research in this field. Conference participants had the opportunity to question all of these speakers, finally forming small groups to formulate a short list of actions and processes that can prepare for and underpin positive motivation and empowerment during a period of major organisational and structural change. You can read the discussion report generated at the event here.

Key note speakers included Rune Todnem, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and Dr Allan Sigston, Achievement Adviser to EdisonLearning


30 March 2009 - 'Achieving the 'Every Child Matters' outcomes: Positive Psychology in education'.

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of those factors, which enable individuals, organisations and communities to grow and develop. At the present time, the growth of this new paradigm seems almost unstoppable (over 400 research papers were presented at this year's European Positive Psychology conference in Opatija). The reason for this rapid growth is not difficult to uncover: Positive Psychology appeals to the preference of many practitioners to reflect on what works, as well as analysing what went wrong. However, the potential and promise of research in Positive Psychology has not yet been linked with the more down-to-earth outcomes of the 'Every Child Matters' initiative or the CWDC aims which are set out in 'The Children's Plan'. This conference explored areas where Positive Psychology is beginning to make an evaluated impact, examined the phenomenon of 'post trauma growth' and consider its application to education and child psychology practice and shared examples of good practice in EP services and organisations.

Key note speakers included Dr Sean Cameron, UCL, Professor Stephen Joseph, University of Nottingham and Dr Illona Boniwell, University of East London


10 September 2008 - 'Recent advances in understanding language difficulties and their implications for education'.

Speech, language and communication are "the foundation life skills for the 21st century, the indispensable prerequisites for children and young people to learn, to achieve and to make friends" (Bercow (Interim) Report, Introduction, para 2). In recent years there have been rapid advances in psychological research about children with speech, language and communication needs. There have also been important developments in methods for their education. Concerns about the provision and support that are available are now receiving considerable political attention at national level. With the publication of a major national report on the subject we think it is timely for educational psychologists to be offered an opportunity to update their knowledge and understanding in this field.

Key note speakers included Professor Kevin Durkin, University of Strathclyde; Professor Julie Dockrell, joint editor of Afasic Abstract and Institute of Education, and John Bercow, MP


31 March 2008 - 'Parenting today: bringing up children in challenging times'.

During the past few years, the topic of parenting has become a major discussion issue on the central government's agenda for change: indeed it would appear that parenting has re-emerged as one of the key factors in the development of individual wellbeing and social competence in childhood and also in later adulthood.

This well attended and exceptionally stimulating conference explored questions such as: can Psychology research and theory lead to a deeper understanding of the parenting process? Are there evidence-based approaches that educational and child psychologists can recommend to parents and carers, to enhance their current parenting skills and knowledge? And what advice should be offered to those parents and carers who need help and support in bringing up their children?


Wednesday 12th September 2007 - New Challenges in Supervision for Educational Psychologists

Professionally and organisationally educational psychologists face many new challenges that have implications for our arrangements for supervision and for supervisory practices. This conference provided a platform enabling delegates to learn about current thinking and research findings on supervision of other groups and reflect on what we as EPs can learn from them.


Monday 16th April 2007 - Promoting Mental Health in Schools: Understanding and Managing Violent Behaviour

It is not only headline grabbing stories about guns and crime which suggest that the levels of violence in our society is rising: Teachers' surveys put violence and intimidations at the top of their problem list and recent data from the 'Beatbullying' organisation shows that of the 20,000 children who truant from school daily, 39% cited bullying as the reason for their non-school attendance.

This conference examined what Psychology has to offer for a better/deeper understanding of this phenomenon and how Educational and Child Psychologists can provide evidence-based approaches to reducing the frequency and seriousness of violent behaviour by children and young people.

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