Legislative context and shared practice models

James Boyle, Thomas MacKay, Fraser Lauchlan

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The application of psychological theory to the practice of educational psychology does not take place in a political or conceptual vacuum: the duties of EPs in the UK have reflected the prevailing goals, values and understandings embedded in the legislation of the time (Boyle & MacKay, 2010; MacKay & Boyle, 2013; Wooldridge, 1994). In turn, EPs have influenced statutes, government circulars and guidance and local education authority policy, most notably in the areas of special educational needs and social inclusion, with more recent developments reflecting the paradigm shift of the 1970s and 1980s from a medical model of assessment and intervention to a more ecological, educational approach (Gillham, 1978; Kirkaldy, 1997). This chapter considers the impact of legislative and policy contexts upon the practice of educational psychology and the impact of this practice upon legislation and policy in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the four distinctive education systems of the UK. The extent to which legislation has created contexts which have given rise to shared models of practice within these systems and may thus be regarded as a framework per se in its own right for such practice will also be discussed together with the implications for future developments in the UK. Readers interested in developments outwith the UK are referred to the reviews of legislation, policy, organisation and EP practice in over 40 countries by Jimerson, Oakland & Farrell (2007) and Boyle & Lauchlan (2014) and to Dahl, Hoff, Peacock and Ervin’s (2012) review of the impact of legislation on the practice of school psychology in the US.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrameworks for Practice in Educational Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationA Textbook for Trainees and Practitioners
EditorsBarbara Kelly, Lisa Marks Woolfson, James Boyle
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2016


  • shared practice models
  • legislative context
  • educational psychology


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