Ealing Borough's Educational Psychologists Vote for Industrial Action

Dispute over pay as burden of SEND assessments soars

Union says an increasing number of Educational Psychologists are qutting. Picture: AEP

September 14, 2023

Educational psychologists in the borough of Ealing have voted in favour of industrial action in dispute over pay and staffing level.

Locally, 60% of members of the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) backed the call to escalate the dispute in a postal ballot lower than the national level voting yes which was 86%.

Across England and Wales, members in 86.6% per cent of local authorities met the participation threshold of over 50% for the ballot and voted in favour of industrial action.

The Unions’ Executive recommended that members should vote Yes to action, saying that the latest pay offer amounts to an average of a 3% rise which is a significant ‘real terms cut’ at a time when inflation is running at 11.4%. The union claims that the decline in pay and conditions has led to a recruitment and retention crisis, causing spiralling workloads, leading to long wait times for children, young people and families who need support. 88% of local authorities reporting difficulties recruiting Educational Psychologists, with 48% citing pay, which is set centrally, as a key reason.

There has been a 77.3% increase in demand for an Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) statutory assessment to determine special educational needs (SEND) from an Educational Psychologist. The number of requests for an assessment was 64,555 in 2017. This rose to 114,457 in 2022.

The latest statistics show that there has been an increase in the percentage of pupils with EHCPs from 2.8% in 2016/17 to 4.3% in 2022/23, corresponding to an increase in the number of pupils with an EHCPs (or SEN statements prior to the SEND reform) by 60.7%, (242,184 to 389,171).

After the vote the Union’s executive discussed plans for industrial action but subsequently received a revised and improved pay offer from the employer’s body, which the AEP and its members will now consider before deciding next steps.

Dr Cath Lowther, General Secretary of AEP, ‘Our members have said loud and clear that our children deserve to see an educational psychologist when they need to. They have turned out in significant numbers to vote yes to industrial action and to save local authority educational psychology services.

‘It is clear that our campaign and the strength of feeling from our members, which has been reflected in the strike ballot, has been heard by the employers and we welcome the revised pay offer which we have just received. We will consider this offer before deciding on our next steps.

‘Every year, tens of thousands of children and young people and their families are helped by an educational psychologist (EP). Despite the vital services and support provided by EPs, local authorities have not invested in the profession and now face widespread recruitment and retention problems. The resulting rise in EP workloads means that children and young people are waiting far too long to be seen by an EP – or worse, don’t get to see an EP at all. We need local authorities to stem the workforce exodus and make sure our children have access to the specialist support that EPs offer, when they need it’.


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