03/11/16 - 12:58:32 | Published in News

Life as an AEP: Preparation

It seems things are finally settling down and myself and the other AEPs are finding our feet and establishing a routine. We are given set tasks to do throughout the week and it’s up to us to organise our time and diary to work this out. Below is an example of how 2 of my days in a week are filled up; one day devoted to university preparation, with weekly group supervisions. Another day focused on SEN Core offer work, helping out EPs in the team with their EHCP referrals.

Application Prep.

We have a day a week dedicated to preparation for our applications to university, and brushing up on skills for the interview days; for example working on our group discussion skills while researching current topics in educational psychology. This week we were researching around the SEN code of practice 2015, and looking into the 4 areas of SEN identified there. We had a group discussion organised into “how the EP supports cognition and learning”, 15 minutes, and we filmed it! Yes. Filmed it.

Now it sounds horrible and everyone hates seeing themselves on video. However having done it last year, and in other areas of my work I can honestly say how helpful it is. I am the first person to criticise myself “my voice sounds horrible”, “is that really what I look like from the side”, but getting these out of the way you can look at yourself and notice things that you do in the moment that you may not realise. I was able to identify if I was talking too long, distracting people with my hands, saying certain phrases to much or not delivering a point confidently.

A really useful exercise

The main thing I think we all noticed is how serious we all looked! In 15 minutes not one of us smiled as we all looked pretty scared, so we made a note to selves to smile more next time and be a bit more animated. Its things like this that you might not have noticed by simply practicing. For anyone who is worried about how they present themselves in presentations, interviews or group tasks I would definitely recommend filming yourself, once you get over the initial horror, it’s a really useful exercise.

We have done this several times now and are able to track how far we have come and if we are working on what we wanted to change or maybe didn’t like about how we presented ourselves. And all this while brushing up on our knowledge about key parts of legislation and the role itself. I feel so fortunate that I’m given these opportunities within work time as its invaluable experience for interview.

Helping with the caseload

Another day of my week in dedicated to helping towards EPs statutory caseload. EPs send us names and what they want out of: chronology, summary, child’s view or an observation. A chronology involves us going into the child’s case file and documenting everything in there, and giving a brief summary. It’s useful for the EP to get an overview of the child without having to read the whole file and it informs their hypothesis around the child.

I find them really useful and interesting as well as it builds my knowledge of professionals who work with the child. How their reports are structured and how they view the child, and well as views of the parents and the child. It also broadens my knowledge of the kind of requests we get into the service and any current trends.

If a summary is requested this is generally something that will go into the EHCP report and will outline all the background information in the case file and give a current context of that child. EPs have commented that these are particularly helpful and save them a lot of time.

Gathering the Child’s views

Sometimes we are also asked to go out and gather the child’s views and do an observation. This is my favourite thing to do as it means I can work independently and make a meaningful contribution to the case whilst meeting the child. It’s generally up to us how we approach this, but always ask for guidance from the EP whose case it is if there was anything particular that they wanted to focus on, this could involve us delivering a psychometric to assess a particular difficulty.

There is a lot of literature out these on gathering children’s views and it depends on what the case is as to which I choose. I particularly like ‘drawing the ideal self’ and ‘drawing the ideal school’ (Moran 2001), as well as using salmon lines (Salmon 1995) to help a child recognise themselves in relation to those around them, and also help them identify anything they think will help get them to their ‘desired’ level, both of which are based on personal construct psychology techniques.

With an older child I use a more narrative interviewing technique which is much more child led, and allows them to take the conversation to places they wish. This is usually coupled with an observation of the child and a quick chat with their teachers. I compile this into a report which is added as an appendix and referred to in the EHCP report by the EP.

In my next blog I’ll explore what other tasks I get up to in my very bust weeks…..