Retired educational psychologists could support pupils under government plans


The government is encouraging retired educational psychologists to return to the workplace to provide much needed support to pupils as they return to school.

Described by the Department for Education as a temporary measure, it is a reaction to warnings that many pupils may struggle mentally as they return to the classroom after six months away.

Psychologists had previously suggested that the pandemic saw greater feelings of entrapment, anger, loneliness and hopelessness among pupils.

As well as retired staff who have left the profession in the last three years, the department is also welcoming assistance from those who feel they have additional capacity to provide support in the coming few months.

Despite the push for more psychologists in schools, numbers have been in decline across the last decade.

The new staff will be expected to provide temporary support for up to 13 weeks, if necessary, to cover the autumn term from September.

However, local authorities will be left to agree on terms with every individual, meaning they could be offered more work beyond that limited time period.

Councils have been told that funding will need to come from existing sources for the additional support roles, including from the £500 million earmarked for dealing with the pandemic.

The Department for Education unveiled plans to train new educational psychologists in 2019, having committed more than £30 million in funding.

More than 600 staff were set to receive financial support to cover tuition costs as a result, with the first set of around 200 trainees due to begin training in the coming weeks.

Further funding was unveiled in August, with £8 million set aside to raise awareness of issues around mental health and wellbeing in schools.

Last year, a government report identified that were not enough qualified educational psychologists to fill all of the available roles.

Those interested in supporting pupils under the new scheme should contact their local authority.