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Tracey - Principal Educational Psychologist

Written by: Fiona Narburgh
Published on: 25 Apr 2023

Tracey Underwood - Principal Educational Psychologist at Warwickshire County Council

Interested in psychology? Want to work with children and young people but don’t want to become a teacher? Then you might be interested in my job. 

I’m Tracey. I’m an Educational Psychologist and I work with children and young people, from birth to 25 years, alongside families and schools on a variety of issues, including supporting children with learning difficulties or communication needs, and meeting the needs of young people who are finding it difficult to manage their emotions and mental health. 

My role is about taking a ‘whole child view’ and finding out what’s really happening at school and at home, then using my expertise in applying psychology and what is mostly likely to work for the child, and implement actions that best meet their social, emotional and mental health needs. 

Sometimes the interventions are little things, which make a big difference for that child. Being part of the school netball club transformed a violent and withdrawn child who had had a number of school exclusions, for a variety of reasons, including experiencing domestic violence. The club helped him make friends with his peers, who were previously scared of him, and he felt better about himself too. By working with the school, and his mum and her new partner, we put in place actions to better support him at school and at home. 

Another example is a transition plan for a newly arrived ‘child looked after’ – this is a child who has been in care and has moved to a new school and new carer. The girl had low trust of adults and had suffered much loss and grief in her life. I worked with the school and her new carer so that they have a good understanding of her needs including ‘trauma informed attachment’ and worked with the girl directly. 

We support schools to develop their behaviour or Special Educational Needs policy and audits, identify gaps in the schools’ knowledge and run training on topics including autism, gang exploitation and foetal alcohol syndrome. 

What I love most about my job is the variety. I can be working with a pre-schooler in the morning then a teenager in the afternoon; it’s about putting children at the centre of decisions.  My school careers advisor told me about this field and that it was really hard because of the doctorate qualification required; that made me determined to succeed. And 19 years later I’m still passionate, working in a great team and making a difference every day.Career Guide Cover

Tracey is featured in our Local Government Career Guide, click here to find out more about working in local government and the wide variety of career options available. 

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