Classroom with teacher and children

Child, community and educational psychology (M4)

Qualify as a registered practitioner educational psychologist with this doctorate course, validated by the University of Essex

Completing this three year, full-time course will enable you to work as a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)-registered practitioner educational psychologist, and to be chartered with the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Taught in-person, this highly regarded professional doctorate training course has been recently re-validated with commendations by the University of Essex, and accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Applications to this course are made via the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP). Please see the entry requirements tab for more details.

Please note: you may see the M4 course also referred to as PTDOTP001 in communications from our application system.

About this course

The Trust has a long-standing reputation for innovation and thought leadership, nationally and internationally, and the course draws heavily on applying systemic, psychodynamic and attachment-informed perspectives to professional psychological practice in schools and in communities.

We emphasise understanding oneself in the professional role and the ways in which relationships influence all aspects of support and intervention for children, young people, families, schools and other services in the community.

Valued features of our programme include:

  • our clinician-trainer approach where those who see our patients teach our trainees
  • the central significance of experiential learning and a variety of opportunities to engage in such learning, including participation in a Group Relations Conference
  • training in a working mental health Trust alongside students from a range of other disciplines and modalities including psychotherapy, clinical psychology, social work and family therapy
  • a clinical placement in the first year in one of our child and adolescent mental health teams
  • a privileging of supervisory relationships with a committed and thoughtful personal supervision team
  • an emphasis on reflection individually and in groups, and attention across all three years to group process and group dynamics
  • creative application of technology-enhanced learning, including the use of video to support professional development

Over the three years, you will learn experientially and through lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. You will gain professional experience through placements in child and adolescent mental health and educational psychology services. The overall aim of the programme is to equip our students with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to practise ethically, effectively and responsibly.

You will follow the British Psychological Society (BPS) core curriculum with modules covering child and adolescent development, assessment and intervention and research. Two additional modules account for psychodynamic, systemic and attachment perspectives (Psychological Frameworks) and the place of consultation in applied practice (Professional in Context).

All modules attend to:

  • the ethical component of practice across the five core functions of assessment, intervention, consultation, training and research
  • cultural responsivity in educational psychological practice, reflections on sameness and difference and the capacity to work towards a more socially just and fair society for all

Year one

You will follow the BPS core curriculum, covered by four modules:

  • Assessment and intervention/child development (CHAI)
  • Professional in context (PiC)
  • Research
  • Psychological frameworks (PF)

You will focus on the individual-in-context (for example, the toddler in the context of the early years setting or the adolescent in the context of the secondary school and family). You will undertake a one-day-a-week placement in a CAMHS team working within a multi-disciplinary team of trainees and experienced, qualified clinicians. You will undertake an additional placement in a London Educational Psychology Service (EPS) where you are supervised by one of our fieldwork tutors. EPS placement locations vary according to service arrangements with the Trust; as an illustrative example for 2022-23 we have placements in Haringey, Islington, Lewisham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Southwark, Redbridge and Harrow.

Year two

In general, three days a week in the second year are spent on placement. This amounts to 130 days across the year. In year two, you will focus on groups and you will be required to facilitate either an adult or a children’s group as part of your learning under supervision.

You will also attend a week-long Group Relations Conference. You will be supported in practising Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in casework and you will continue with Research, CHAI and PF modules. The research module will involve planning and initiating your doctoral research project.

Year three

In your third year, the focus of study is on organisations and you will carry out supervised organisational development work in your placement. You will complete your doctoral research study, which is expected to extend the knowledge and evidence base in educational psychology practice. This will be supervised and submitted as a 40,000 word thesis. You will complete a further 130 days on educational psychology service placement, again usually three days per week.

Course details

In line with national training requirements, applicants need to:

  • have the minimum of a psychology degree (with honours, preferably 2:1 or above) or a qualifying conversion course or Master’s degree, with eligibility for the British Psychological Society (BPS) Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). You can check your eligibility with the BPS and please note that you must have achieved eligibility before the application deadline. If the qualification that grants you eligibility for GBC is not from the UK or Ireland, you will also be required to enter your BPS membership number at the application stage
  • have gained a minimum of one year’s full-time (37 hours a week or the equivalent if part-time) experience of working with children and young people by the application deadline. This is usually within an educational, health, social care, youth justice, childcare or community setting. This experience might include teaching, learning and behaviour mentoring, being a teaching assistant, social worker, speech and language therapist or assistant psychologist. This minimum experience can be made up of all paid employment, or at least nine months full-time paid employment (or the equivalent if part-time) and the equivalent of three months sustained relevant voluntary experience. Any additional paid or voluntary experience over the one-year minimum requirement should also be included in applications as the length, depth and range of experience may be taken into consideration in selection

To be successful in your application to the course, it is more than meeting the entry requirements above. It is crucial that you consider ‘fit’ and whether what we offer would be a good ‘fit’ for you as a learner.

We are seeking applicants who are curious and interested about themselves and others; who can make, sustain and end professionally helpful relationships with others and who have excellent communication and engagement skills. A knowledge of the breadth and depth of the Educational Psychologist’s role, as well as the diverse age groups, developmental phases and contexts within which we work is key on entry. We expect our trainees to acknowledge and be respectful of difference, to understand and appreciate structurally embedded inequities that act as barriers to all people flourishing and to take a culturally responsive stance in all of their work.

Other requirements on entry that we use to inform our recruitment and selection include:

  • An ability to reflect on your work and both give and receive feedback oriented towards growth
  • An understanding of relevant legislation, statutory guidance and professional practice standards including but not limited to the Equality Act (2010), relevant special educational needs and disabilities law and guidance, safeguarding procedures, etc.
  • A capacity to apply principles of inclusion, equity of opportunity, anti-discriminatory approaches, and an appreciation of difference to practice with children, young people, their families and the systems within which they are living/growing
  • Capability in the application of psychology to real-world practice and in keeping up-to-date with the evidence base
  • Knowledge and skills relevant to undertaking research and motivation, interest and ability to develop these into a doctoral level researcher

You must also be able to demonstrate a good command of oral and written English. If English is not your first language, you must be able to evidence a good standard of written and spoken English (100 for internet-based TOEFL, 250 for computer-based TOEFL, 600 for paper-based TOEFL or Level 5 for International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Version that is an overall score of 8.0 and a minimum of 8.0 in each component.

Application timings

Applications to this course are made centrally via the Association of Educational Psychologists website, where further details about entry for the coming academic year can be found.

Please note that we intend to hold interviews the week beginning Monday 29 January 2024.

Due to a large volume of requests, we are unfortunately no longer able to provide individual feedback on applications or interviews.

This course is funded by the Department for Education. The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) provides more information about funding.

Bursaries in Year 1 for funded trainees

For government funded trainees at course centres in London, a bursary amount of £16,390 is payable in Year 1. The amount is set by the Department for Education and is provided by them. Costs of travel to and from placement must be met by trainees.

Bursaried placements in Years 2 and 3

In Years 2 and 3, placements are undertaken in Educational Psychology Services in the South East, East and London (SEEL) regions only. Allocations of trainees to services are made towards the end of Year 1 by a placement panel of Principal Educational Psychologists. Trainees typically undertake 130 days of placement annually in Years 2 and 3, usually Monday to Wednesday.

Local authorities offering Year 2 and 3 placements for 2023 onwards will pledge a bursary of £19,960 per annum. Trainees will receive the baseline bursary of £19,460, which includes a contribution towards travel and/or books, usually of £500, but with the additional £500 per pledged bursary being available to each programme to support trainees with travel costs associated with home to placement travel.

It is essential that you make yourself familiar with the requirements of the bursary placement scheme as part of your preparation to apply to this course.

Please note that the funding outlined above relates to the 3-year training programme only. Should a student exceed this period (e.g. because of delayed submission of thesis), a fee will apply.

International Students

If you are interested in applying for this course as an international student in the future, please contact us.

Please note that course fees are subject to an annual uplift of 3% or the Consumer Price Inflation as at 1 September, whichever is the greater. At its discretion, the Trust may determine a figure between these two rates.

Placement is a crucial component of the doctorate across all three years of the programme.

Year 1 Placements

In Year 1, where there is the most weight on academic teaching, trainees are placed both in CAMHS and in linked Local Authorities with whom we have contractual arrangements for supervision. The CAMHS services are either based at our main clinic site on Belsize Lane or in Camden. The Educational Psychology Services are located in inner and outer London, both north and south.

Trainees do not find their own placements as these are allocated by the Deputy Director, Placement & Supervision by the end of September of your first term in Year 1. CAMHS placements take place on Thursdays from October to July and the EPS placements take place on Wednesdays in the Spring and Summer Term, with a 2 week and 4 week block in January and May respectively.

Years 2 and 3 Placements

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust is part of the South East, East and London (SEEL) consortium, consisting of UCL Institute of Education, Southampton, Tavistock, University College London (UCL) and University of East London (UEL). Placements are arranged for all M4 trainees across these training providers in Years 2 and 3 of the programme by means of a placement panel.

Applicants need to be aware of the expectations and requirements associated with these placements. Accepting a place on any of the SEEL programmes carries with it an acceptance of these expectations and requirements relating to the Year 2 and 3 placements.

Placements in Years 2 and 3 involve 130 days – approximately 3 days per week in school term time. The Year 2 and 3 placements are made anonymously by a Placement Panel of six Principal Educational Psychologists, two each from each of the three SEEL regions (the South East, East and London). Programme Director and trainee representatives are available to the Placement Panel as advisors.

In May of Year 1, trainees recruited through the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) selection process are required to nominate, according to the specific requirements and in order of preference, five of the bursaried placements that have been pledged in the SEEL region. The boundaries of the SEEL region extend from Norfolk East to Oxford, South to Dorset and West to Kent. The bursaries can all be viewed as they come in on the SEEL Placement website.

Please note that while every effort will be made by the panel to place Trainee Educational Psychologists (TEPs) in one of their preferred placements, there may be occasions where it is not possible, and a trainee may have a placement not listed in their choice. However, at the placement panel in 2019, 44% of TEPs were placed in their first preference placement, 37% in their second or third choice and 19% in their fourth or fifth preference instead.

The five nominations made by each trainee on the Trainee Preference Form are subject to the following specific requirements:

  • At least one of the placements listed by each trainee has to be an ‘out of London’ placement (see the SEEL Bursary website for a list of inner London, outer London and ‘out of London’ placements). Unless a trainee has an authenticated medical condition that prevents them from driving, they are expected to have a current driving licence and have the use of a car for their 130 placement days in each of Years 2 and 3. If allocated a placement where a car is designated as essential, trainees will be expected to provide one, or to make whatever arrangements are necessary to allow them to undertake the full range of placement activities in a timely fashion, as if they had a car.
  • No more than 3 Inner London placements can be nominated by each trainee. There are typically very many fewer Inner London Placements than there are trainees expressing a preference for them. Only trainees attending a SEEL programme will be considered for London placements. Where there are surplus placements elsewhere in the SEEL region, trainees from other programmes may apply through their Programme Director for consideration by the SEEL Placement Panel. It is not possible for SEEL trainees to have Year 2 and 3 placements outside the SEEL region.
  • Trainees who are parents of very young children or have sole childcare responsibilities, or who have provided their programme director with evidence of a medical issue affecting their ability to travel (a letter from their GP or disability assessment) will be able to record this information on their form for validation by their programme director and special consideration by the Panel. No other personal information may be entered on the form.
  • To encourage an appropriate diversity of placement experience, trainees should not express a preference for a Year 2/3 placement in an office base where they have an extended placement in Year 1. However, be aware that such a placement may need to be allocated by the Placement Panel.

For more information, please visit the SEEL Bursary website, or contact us with any further questions.

The course is assessed through presentations, written assignments and a professional practice portfolio which is submitted at the end of each year. In the final year a research thesis of 40,000 words is submitted.

This course provides the qualification required to register as a practitioner psychologist with the HCPC and work as an educational psychologist. Tavistock trained EPs work in a range of roles such as senior practitioners in local authority educational psychology services, leads of mental health support teams, psychologists in virtual schools and private practitioners.

Why study with us?

This comprehensive and demanding course, which includes a clinical emphasis, will enable you to make a successful transition to the role of applied psychologist working in schools, local communities and multi-agency contexts.

You will be able to deliver the core service expectations of consultation, assessment and intervention for complex additional and special educational needs, research, evaluation and training.

This course has several unique elements and provides experiential learning opportunities and teaching to enable students to think about the relational, systemic and unconscious factors affecting children, young people, families and the staff who work with them.

We endeavour to offer all our students individual and group spaces to learn about themselves in-role, to feel connected and contained with and by others and to be authentically challenged as they learn and grow in their professional practice.


“My course has taken me on an amazing journey and provided me with professional skills and tools that make a positive impact on the development of the children and young people I work with.”

Course facilitators

Validations and accreditations

University of Essex logo

This course is validated by the University of Essex.

British Psychological Society (BPS)

This course is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Research and publications

The following publications have recently been produced by tutors and students on this course.

Course texts

  • Arnold, C., Bartle, D. and Eloquin, X. (eds) (2021) Learning from the unconscious: Psychoanalytic approaches in Educational Psychology. London: Confer Books 

Journal articles

  • Arnold, C., & Davis, B. (2021) (Eds) Children in Lockdown learning the lessons of pandemic times. London: Confer Books
  • Bates, K., Morgan, H., Crosby, E., Nurse, K., Flynn, A., Stern, D., Baronian, R., & Kennedy, E.K. (2021). Developing digital approaches for young people with Autism and Learning Disabilities: Service user involvement and shared decision-making. Educational & Child Psychology, 38(3), 124-139
  • Dunsmuir, S., Kennedy, E., Lang, J., & Monsen, J. J. (2022) A Qualitative Review of Pre-Service Training of Educational Psychology Consultants in the United Kingdom, Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, DOI: 10.1080/10474412.2022.2090949
  • Gibb, A.L. & Lewis, R. (2019) How do nurture group practitioners make sense of their relationship with the nurture group child? International Journal of Nurture in Education, 5 (1) 21–35
  • Jago, N., Wright, S., Hartwell, B. K. & Green, R. (2020) Mental Health Beyond the School Gate: Young People’s Perspectives of Mental Health Support Online, and in Home, School and Community Contexts. Educational and Child Psychology, 37(3), 69-85
  • Kennedy, E.K., Blyth, F., Sakata, E., Yahyaoui, L., Canagaratnam, M., & Nijabat, N. (2020). Making meaning from experience: Collaborative assessment with young adults who have mental health needs and social communication differences. Educational and Child Psychology, 37 (3), 86-98
  • Kennedy, E.K., & Laverick, L. (2019). Inclusion in Complex Systems Contexts: Can relational supervision for head teachers help? Support for Learning, 34 (4), 443-459
  • Park, J. & Mortell, J. (2020) Using the Grid Elaboration Method (GEM) to investigate transition experiences of young autistic adults. Educational Psychology in Practice, Vol. 36 (2)

Digital material

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