Catalyst Courier February 2024

Welcome to our latest edition of the Catalyst Courier. If you have information to share or topics, you’d like us to cover please get in touch ([email protected]

Our latest SENDCO Network was held in person, at the Old Parsonage, with information from Dr Teresa Regan, Managing Director and Principal Educational Psychologist who led feedback on the recent national conference she attended to hear the DfE updates on the SEND Implementation Plan including some information about Alternative Provision. There was also a workshop led by Trainee Educational Psychologist Sally McCormick on the (changing) role of the EP and an update from Catalyst on sharing resources and information.

Feedback: DfE Conference Updates

Teresa gave an update based on information from the conference she recently attended. The DfE conference discussed the next steps for support and delivering on the SEND and AP improvement plan. An overview was given on how this plan is being trialled in local authorities nationally with a plan to work towards whole system reform. The three stages of this process were outlined:

  • Support and stabilise - 2023+
  • Increase supply - 2024/2025
  • Design and Test - 2023/2025

Also provided by the speakers was a diagram which illustrates the change programme current design and test model. This can be seen below.

Lastly speakers shared the next stages in the process will include work on the evidence base, legislation, and funding.

There was also an update from the Northwest change programme partnership who have been developing since September 2023.

Discussion from the partnership shared their key principle and the completion of acquiring their steering group which is now meeting regularly.

The Key Principle centres around Coproduction with parents’ /carers and young people.

The NW change programme partnership also discussed what was currently in progress for the programme partnership as well as reflecting on the challenges faced and what has been working well for the NW change programme partnership in these first stages.

Workshop: The (changing) role of the EP

This workshop led by Sally McCormick focused on gathering views to establish how SENDCOs see the development of the Educational Psychologist role moving forward. This workshop followed a task completed by the Catalyst EP team and required SENDCOs to diamond rank nine statements about the EP role which could be categorised into being an aspect of the role important to children, important to parents and families or important to schools.

Below you can see some of the discussion feedback from SENDCOs on their ranking of the statements.

Diamond ranking

Ranking Statement Comments
1 It is important that the work EPs do with children is focused and purposeful leading to better outcomes. Initial discussion efficiently selected this as the most important statement and reflections shared that SENDCOs felt even with EP time constraints (which could affect the focus or purposeful nature of recommendations) the work completed always feels focused and purposeful and works towards better outcomes for that YP.


It is important for parents and families that EP input leads to their child being better understood and supported.

SENDCOs felt this statement went hand in hand with the number 1 ranked statement as “you can’t have better outcomes if they (YP) are not understood and supported” and they felt strongly that this is what schools are primarily asking of an EP. There was a reflection from SENDCOs that schools often look at the education outcomes however EPs look at the YP holistically and have more of a future perspective which they felt was an important addition.


It is important that EPs support schools to make evidence-informed decisions in relation to strategies and provision.

SENDCOs shared comments including “if there is no evidence what the point is in doing it” regarding strategies and provision and felt like this is something an EP can have unique knowledge of. SENDCOs also felt strongly that they value the bespoke and achievable provision/strategies which are considered for their setting by Catalyst EPs and that they do not always get this consideration from other professionals.


It is important that EPs advocate for children.

Although this was initially considered high importance, the SENDCos discussed that there are a lot of people who can advocate for the children including parents and carers.


It is important for children to trust, relate and feel listened to by Eps.

SENDCos questioned how much of a relationship the children can build with an EP if they are only seeing the children for an assessment. In contrast, some SENDCos felt that their EP who had developed a consistent relationship with the school knew the children and gave an example of the EP speaking to them on the corridor. The SENDCOs shared that the importance of this depends on the age and the needs of the child (and gave an example of a young child who is non-verbal not understanding that they are meeting an EP).


It is important that EPs support schools to build capacity (e.g., increase the ability to improve student learning).

In an ideal world, it would be high importance for EPs to support with capacity but issues with funding mean that they need to see individual children and it is not possible to request work such as staff training. SENDCOs discussed the standard of quality of EP work at Catalyst being ‘high’ and ideally would like revisits from EP after assessments to support capacity but this is not currently possible. Although SENDCos discussed the importance of capacity work being what makes a difference when the EP is ‘gone,’ they shared that they could obtain support for the development of capacity from other sources such as SALT and outreach.


It is important for parents and families to see EPs as a neutral and external source of support.

SENDCOs shared how they felt If there is conflict between parents and school there might be a need for the EP to be an external professional and it can be important they remain neutral however schools also feel like they want parents to see the engagement of an EP as a mechanism of help the school has brought in for that child to strengthen school and family relationships around the support being offered.  SENDCos also shared they sometimes may need the EP to be an ‘allied’ professional when discussing approaches or concerns which parents do not agree with school on (if this is what the EP agrees is best for the YP).


It is important for schools to feel supported and have confidence in EPs as partners.

SENDCOs shared that they do not always see EPs over time. SENDCos shared that they had some less positive experiences.


It is important for schools to have a clear understanding of the support that is available from EPs, including individual child and systemic work.

SENDCos discussed that although they would like to know what support is available from EPs, they do not have the time or funding to request the work and need to focus on the list of children for individual support.



Images below show the collaborative work in action.

Resource Update

New resource update has been published on the Catalyst website and can be found here: Resource Update.

Our new resource page directory has been added to the website and can be found here. It is possible to filter resources in this format however if users prefer a copy of the document can be downloaded – please remember any downloads will not be up to date with any new resources.

Resources moving forward will be linked with any spotlighted awareness day/week/month. For February the following event days have been highlighted:

  • National LGBT History Month – LGBTQIA+ and Young People
  • 7th February – Safer Internet DayOnline safety
  • 5th – 11th February – Childrens Mental Health Week – Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • 14th – 21st February – National Nest Box Week (Includes the great backyard bird count 16th – 21st February) – Exercise and Fresh Air
  • 20th February – World Social Justice Day
  • 22nd – 23rdInternational Mother Language DayWelcoming Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Our next SENDCO Network is Tuesday 19th March.

Our next Catalyst Courier is due out on Wednesday 27th March.

If you have any items, you’d like us to cover please get in touch: [email protected]

With best wishes

Teresa and the Catalyst team