I believe everyone can learn in the right environment.
I believe building on strengths and what works promotes success.
I believe that to grow and learn we must also struggle and fail.
I believe we must listen to the voices of others and work collaboratively to facilitate positive change.
I believe we must work systematically to identify the most effective solutions to complex situations.
I believe psychological theory and practice provides a robust grounding for understanding and supporting children with SEN.
I worked as an Educational Psychologist in a local authority service for several years, working up to the Senior Educational Psychologist role. However, I was left feeling frustrated because:
One-off assessments don't enable us to really have the time to know if the school staff feel supported.
We would offer advice but wouldn't be able to help to really embed that advice.
I found myself saying the same things over and over again in consultations with different teachers; simple, effective, evidence based strategies were not really being used.
I realised that one-off assessments don't allow us to really support staff, or help embed what, on their own are simple strategies but what in a classroom system with 30 children all with their own unique needs becomes extremely complex.
This together with the challenges facing SENCos and inclusions managers....budget cuts, staffing shortages, growing SEMH needs and higher numbers of SEN with no funding, waiting lists for external agencies, made worse by COVID backlogs, huge administrative burdens reducing time available to actual spend with SEN children...need I go on!?
I wanted to create a programme that provided accessible EP support and advice. So that children were not left waiting months to be 'seen' by an EP. So that supportive strategies and interventions could be identified and put in place earlier. A programme of support and advice that also left SENCos and inclusion managers feeling supported, empowered and equipped with the skills and resources to identify solutions and create inclusive environments.
My EDI journey also led me to a place where I wanted to have maximum impact while leaving the least footprint. So often, there are so many professionals involved in a child's life - dropping in, listening to their voice and then leaving again - I was left wondering what this experience was like for a child or young person. What message did it send them? What impact did this have on their understanding of themselves, their identity? Was the information I was collecting, information that couldn't be gathered by someone who already knew the child, someone already their system?
I wanted to create a programme that also recognises how the stresses and pressures on the education system at present affect teachers and school staff and thus affect their interactions with the children. A programme that provides a space to reflect on these and taken them into consideration when creating intervention plans for children, including what support is needed for staff.
So if any of this resonates with you, please register your interest now and I will be SO excited to work with you and support you!
I think about how much I have changed and evolved since I started my journey as an EP. I began as a very science focused, quantitative minded person. I still like science and numbers but I also appreciate narrative. The way we all have our own way of seeing, experiencing and appreciating the world. I appreciate the influence of the unconscious. How our feelings, our biases can affect what we do without us even knowing and how important it is for us to get to know ourselves when we work with others. I find that I can best understand a situation when I draw on both these elements. We have to assess a situation systematically to ensure we have a complete picture, we haven't missed or overlooked a crucial element and we have to listen to the perspectives of others, and understand our role and the part we play.
HCPC Registered (Aleksandra Dean PYL32124)
Olenka has over 12 years of experience working with children and families across a variety of education settings and has been an Educational Psychologist since 2015. Olenka gained her doctorate in Educational Psychology from University College London and then worked for a local authority educational psychology service working up to the Senior Educational Psychologist position.
Olenka's specialist interests include: Systemic working, Inclusion and belonging, Pupil voice, Positive Psychology and Literacy.
Olenka continually seeks to develop her practice. She has had training to develop her coaching skills with Aspen Psychology Services Ltd.; a recognised Approved Centre with the International Society for Coaching Psychology. Olenka has also completed the Positive Psychology Masterclass accredited by the Association for Coaching for CPD.