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Core Preventative Services

What is District Based working?
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District work is funded directly by the Local Authority to target local inclusion needs and priorities and Early Years work. 80 days for each District in Kent is delivered by a local team of EPs who implement a range of evidence based approaches and work with local schools to respond to local needs.

Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) in the Early Years.
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Some District  time is  targeted towards pre-school children and families. This time can be used for VIG.

VIG is described on our EP Intervention page and is available as a traded service as well.

Within Districts, VIG is offered to Kent children who are 0 to 4 years (pre-school).

The usual referral criteria are:

  1. The child is identified as vulnerable (including SEND, relationship difficulties, risks associated with transition to primary school and related inclusion)
  2. There is an aim to increase parental or carer confidence in preparing for their child’s transition to school
  3. There is an aim to reduce parental or carer anxiety.

Having identified that VIG may be beneficial for a family, the commissioner gains verbal consent from parent or carer for their contact details to be shared with the Service.

The commissioner can then email with the parent’s name and contact details to enable a VIG Guider to discuss the possible VIG work with them.

Commissioners for VIG in the early years could include:

  • Kent Special schools and specialist settings
  • Kent Educational Psychologists - identifying potential children and parents by statutory assessment work with children (0 to 4 years)
  • Early Years Local Inclusion Forum Teams (EY LIFTs)
  • Early Years Specialist Teachers.

Communities of Practice
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‘Communities of Practice’ takes place virtually on a weekly basis on Microsoft Teams and is a vehicle for professional development and practitioners to share good practice. Practitioners work directly with families and include Social workers, EH workers and VSK staff etc. This is an ideal forum for sharing evidence based practice and building capacity - as each participant works with numerous families.

Attendance varies but can be up to 100 participants. Sessions last for 1.5 hours. Although the sessions last for 1.5 hours, input tends to be for 45 minutes followed by questions and answers. However, each session can be tailored to suit the content.

EPs are well placed to facilitate sessions on relevant topics - often topics they have a great deal of knowledge in and are relevant to those working with children and families. Sessions have covered topics such as sleep, gender identity, grief and loss and anxiety based school avoidance. All sessions have been received very positively and our working relationship with the Communities of practice team continues to grow.

Multi-Family Groups
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Kent Educational Psychology Service will be delivering Multi-Family Groups this academic year as part of the Core Preventative work. Initially this will be piloted in three schools, with the aim of extending the offer across the county.

Multi-Family Groups is a well-established intervention within child and adolescent mental health services. However, in response to the need for accessible support for children and young people, the approach was further developed to be delivered in schools. Multi-Family Groups is an in-school intervention, which aims to support children and young people who are having difficulties with learning due to their social, emotional, or behavioral needs. Within a group, parents, children, school staff and either a psychologist or social worker, work together to find new solutions to existing challenges. Parents are empowered to recognise their strengths and children are supported to develop new skills and thinking in relation to their SEMH needs. Research has shown that parents of children receiving support from the Multi-Family Groups reported statistically and clinically significant improvements in their children that were maintained at twelve months.

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Multi-Family Groups in Schools - Brenda McHugh and Neil Dawson

Parent Consultation Line
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The Parent Consultation Line is for parents to access a free 30 minute telephone or video consultation with an educational psychologist to discuss issues regarding their children’s wellbeing and/or learning that are causing concern. The aim of this service is to support parents and carers in finding ways forward and possible solutions through a joint problem solving conversation.

Topics or areas that parents and carers may wish to discuss might include:

  • Social and emotional issues
  • Concerns about learning
  • Family relationships
  • Concerns about behaviour
  • Daily routines including sleep

If you consider a parent or carer would benefit from this service please ask them to send an email to and to include the following information:

  • name;
  • phone number;
  • convenient time to call (morning or afternoon)
  • their child’s education phase e.g. early years, primary school, secondary school;
  • a brief description of what they wish to discuss.

We ask that parents themselves contact the service as opposed to professionals doing so for them. This is to ensure that when we make contact it is with the parents consent.

We will do our best to respond within 10 working days but this may be subject to availability.

Please note that due to capacity, educational psychologists will not be able to discuss EHCP applications.

Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSA)
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Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) plan and deliver emotional literacy programmes of support to children and young people, usually lasting 6 to 12 weeks. A programme might be designed to help a child or young person to:

  • recognise and manage their emotions;
  • raise their self-esteem;
  • improve peer relationships;
  • recover from significant loss or bereavement;
  • or resolve conflict effectively.

ELSAs are trained and supervised by Educational Psychologists (EPs). In order to become an accredited ELSA, six days of training and at least four supervision sessions must be completed. ELSAs need to be practising as an ELSA and attending regular supervision sessions in order to maintain their accreditation.

At the heart of the programme is a strong relational ethos. First, modelled through the training and supervision approach there is a focus on developing relationships between the EP service and the ELSAs. Second, developing relationships between the ELSAs themselves and third, the ELSA developing a relationship with the child they will be working with.

ELSA has been run in Kent since 2017 and we have trained nearly 200 ELSAs across Kent. We have a current register of around 100 active ELSAs who have trained with us and are undertaking regular supervision to support their work.

Schools joining the ELSA programme are asked for the following commitments:

  • ELSAs are released for all training and supervision sessions;
  • ELSAs have ring-fenced time for adequate planning as well as the delivery of regular sessions to the children referred for support (typically one day per week or half a day per week for small schools);
  • ELSAs have a suitable space (pleasant and semi-private) where they can work with pupils;
  • ELSAs have a small budget which allows them to periodically purchase new resources (games, books, puppets) to develop their work; and that
  • finance is protected to maintain the ELSA role year on year.

The full commitment agreement for the ELSA Programme can be found here:

ELSA Training
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Training courses are run annually, typically from January to June. Courses will be advertised through LIFT groups, KELSI, The Education People and on this website. The six days of training covers modules such as:

Day 1 An Introduction to Emotional Literacy

Introductions for ELSAs and Line Managers
Day 2 Active Listening
Social skills, Friendships and Games
Day 3 Attachment, Resilience and Self-Concept
Day 4 Managing Emotions and Difficult Feelings
Day 5 Loss, Bereavement and Family Break-Up

Therapeutic and Social Stories
Day 6 Play and Drawing

Getting Started - Applying and Developing ELSA Learning (with Line Managers)

ELSA Supervision
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We have 14 supervision groups across the county, including a group specifically to cater for our ELSAs in secondary schools. This means that there should be a local supervision group for each ELSA, enabling them to network with neighbouring schools.

Supervision sessions of two hours are run by a qualified EP on a termly basis and ELSAs are expected to attend all sessions wherever possible.

For any more information, please email

To register your interest in the next course please complete this form below: