The practice of school systems consultation by the educational psychologist : a reflection on the process at a school for specialised education

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Educational Psychology has been defined in the past as an interventionist profession, mainly focused on the alleviation of educational problems that interfere with the educational process. Currently a paradigm shift seems to herald new opportunities for the profession to develop whole school approaches and devote less of its time to individual case work. Educational psychologists world-wide foresee a broadening in the focus of their work to include a larger commitment to consultancy and school systems development. The benefits are seen in terms of the more efficient use of time, eliciting wider ranging change and the opportunity for offering a preventative approach to service delivery. School systems consultation represents such an approach. This study explores the practice of school systems consultation using an action research approach. It is argued that action research methodology provides a framework to contain and guide the complex developments which emerge once the consultation gets under way. Central concepts in an action research approach such as collaboration, participation and reflection are analysed and reflected upon in terms of the opportunities and constraints they presented to school systems consultation as a service delivery option for the educational psychologist. The role of the educational psychologist in South Africa has been conservative and the shift towards a more socially accountable one seems inevitable if such services are to be regarded as appropriate. The role of the educational psychologist as change agent in the transformation process in the South African education system is explored in this study.

Bibliography: pages 71-78.