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Unit information: Professional Practice in 2020/21

Unit name Professional Practice
Unit code ACHSD0011
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Dan O'Hare
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit introduces the legal and ethical framework in which Educational Psychologists work. Particular attention is paid to developing a professional and ethical value base including reference to the BPS Code of Conduct and the DECP's Guidelines for the Practice of Educational Psychologists, the AEP Code of Practice and the Health Care Professions Council Standards of Proficiency for Practitioner Psychologists. The role of support services will be considered within current legislative, funding and management frame works. Areas covered include: LA structures and organisation and how these influence EP service delivery and policy; Funding, management and organisation of other agencies, such as health trusts, social services, SEN support services; Major legislation and its implications; Impact of Code of Practice on advice-giving, planning and objectives-setting in school contexts; The National Curriculum and its assessment; Duties of care of education professionals under the common law; Report writing and issues of effective communication; Consultation skills; Resource allocation, funding and auditing; Parental involvement, partnership and redress; Ethical issues and dilemmas, including equal opportunities; Court and Tribunal work; The rights of children; The management of psychology services.


To enlarge trainees’ understanding of the major legislative underpinnings of professional practice (e.g. 1988, 1993, 1996 Education Acts, Code of Practice and Circular 6/94, Children Act 1989, 1997 DfEE ‘Green’ Papers). To facilitate effective, ethical working practices, including familiarity with codes of conduct laid down by professional bodies, in order that EPs may observe legal duties of care, equal opportunities and the rights of children in their dealings with clients and other professional agencies. To provide a knowledge base for EP contributions to policy, decision-making and change processes, embedded in an awareness of how organizations function within the constraints of funding, legislation and government guidelines.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will have a working knowledge of relevant legislation and codes of conduct issued by government and professional agencies. They will be equipped to work under supervision in public sector agencies (such as LEAs) forming effective working relationships with Key role partners including: children, young people, their carers, teachers and other professionals, where psychological advice is required in order to support decision-making, intervention and the allocation of resources. Students will have developed a thorough grasp of ethical issues including the rights of children, confidentiality, child protection, equal opportunities. They will be able to communicate with a variety of audiences through verbal and a range of written forms, including formal reports required for statutory procedures.

Teaching details

This taught element of this unit will include essential and sensitive in-person teaching for practitioner psychologists in line with HCPC standards e.g. ethics, legislation, evidence-based practice, communication Guided reading, lectures, seminars, and presentations will be supported by supervised practice. Placements will be organised (either online or in person depending on what is appropriate for the circumstances) so that trainees are directly involved in the work of EP services and LEA organizations, including attending meetings, liaising with LEA officers and other professional colleagues (teachers, doctors, clinical psychologists, speech therapists, social workers). Course inputs will include range of professionals, updates on legislation, required reading on professional issues.

Assessment Details

Completion of an equivalent 4000 word assignment, satisfactory reports from fieldwork supervisors, and a range of professional activities, reflected within the submission of the Professional Practice Portfolio. The range of professional activities will need to demonstrate theoretical understanding and knowledge of different models of psychology, and how they apply to a given situation or context.

Reading and References

Association of Educational Psychologists. (2011). The delivery of educational psychology services. Durham: AEP.

British Psychological Society. (2012). Code of Ethics and Conduct. Leicester: BPS.

Department for Education. (2015). Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0-25 years. London: DfE.

Division of Educational & Child Psychology. (2002). Professional Practice Guidelines. Leicester: BPS.

Dowling, E. and Osborn, E (Eds) (1994) The Family and the School: A joint Systems Approach to Problems with Children. London: Routledge

Franey, J. (2002) Ethical Mindfulness and Professional Development in LEA Psychology Services. Educational and Child Psychology. Vol. 19 (1) Page 46-60

Fredrikson, N. & Cline, T. (2002) Special Educational Needs, Inclusion & Diversity. Buckingham OUP

Health & Care Professions Council. (2015). Standard of Proficiency: practitioner psychologists. London: HCPC.

Lunt, I., Norwich, B. and Varma, V. (Eds) (1997) Psychology and Education for Special Needs: Recent Developments and Future Directions. Ashgate: Arena

Sigston, A., Curran, P., Labram, A. and Wolfendale, S. (Eds) (1997) Psychology in Practice with Young People, Families and Schools. London: David Fulton

Whitboun, S., Mitchell, K., Morris, R., (2000) What is the LEA For? Slough. NFER

United Nations. (1948). United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. UN.

United Nations. (1990). United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. UN.

United Nations. (2008). United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. UN.