Who we are…
Our members are highly qualified and experienced Independent Educational Psychologists (EPs). EPs undertake significant academic training in Psychology and Learning and we have expertise in working with children, in different educational settings. The purpose of an EP is to help those around a child/YP, understand strengths and difficulties and to be able to do something to improve things.
When working directly, through casework, we often do observation, assessment and consultation. EP input is focused on enabling change and development – assessment is not an end in itself and we aim to provide suitable directions for intervention.
As well as working at an individual level, EPs work at a class and whole-school level. We are skilled at developing intervention programmes, delivering training and conducting small-scale research and evaluation.
Member Pen Portraits
Maria Lyon (Member and Chairperson)
Maria has over 26 years of experience working in education as a teacher, Special Educational Needs Coordinator (Senco), Parent Partnership officer and, as an EP for 10 years, in a Local Authority (LA) in the North West. In Jan. 2015, she established her company. As an EP, her work includes supporting early years settings, schools, pupil referral units and other settings, in meeting the needs of pupils with a wide range of additional needs. She has worked at a strategic level with Head Teachers and senior managers – running training courses for staff and parents, intervention programmes for pupils and carrying out assessments. She is a qualified Nurture group trainer. She works in partnership with a branch of the National Autistic Society and is part of a multi-professional team delivering the Cygnet Programme. She is a founder member of Link. Although based in the North West, she is willing to travel further afield.
Debbie Shannon (Member and Secretary)
Following a successful Primary teaching career in London and the North West, Debbie was a Senco and an Early Years Advisory Teacher in a LA, before training to be an EP in 2003. Debbie subsequently held the positions of Senior EP and Acting Principal EP in a North West LA – managing an EP team for three years, supervising Trainee EPs and managing a Critical Incident Response Team. Debbie became an Independent EP in 2014. She enjoys working in all education-based settings and at different levels, to achieve positive change for children and YP, including complex casework, programme development, research and training staff. She has presented and delivered workshops at a number of regional and national conferences. She is a founder member and Secretary for Link Psychology Coop. and takes the lead on strategic development. She is passionate about promoting co-operative principles and ethical working practice. She is able to work, locally, regionally, nationally or even internationally, by negotiation!
Jayne Smith (Member and Treasurer)
Jayne qualified as an EP in 1993. Prior to that, she worked as a Primary Teacher and Senco. To date, she has worked as an EP in the West Midlands and North West and for several years held the post of Specialist EP, (Early Years), working closely with the Portage Team. Jayne has been a guest lecturer on the Doctorate in Psychology course at Manchester. Since 2013, she has worked as an independent EP in private practice. Jayne has wide experience of working with Nurseries, Schools (Mainstream and Specialist), Children’s Centres and families and she particularly enjoys casework. This includes consultation, individual pupil assessment and problem solving forums and training. She enjoys working collaboratively with a range of other professionals and parents and utilising solution focussed discussion methods to promote positive solutions to promoting pupil’s progress. She is a founder member of Link Psychology Cooperative and is keen to promote EP collaborative working, to provide the best quality service for children and young adults. She is happy to work within the North West region and will consider working in other areas, by negotiation.
Michelle Kittles (Member)
Michelle qualified as an educational psychologist in 2010 after studying for a doctorate in educational and child psychology at the University of Manchester. She has worked on EP teams for a number of LAs in the North West. Since 2014, Michelle has run her own independent psychology practice. She works primarily with schools and academies in Manchester. Her areas of interest include – developing nurturing schools, attachment and developmental trauma, emotional health and resilience, mediated learning, meta-cognition and mind-set theory. She also has an interest in social communication needs and has previously worked as part of a multi-disciplinary autism team within CAMHS. Although she is based in Manchester, she is able to travel further afield for work.
David Wasilewski (Member)
David worked as a teacher from 1995 and as an EP since 2003. David previously managed a team of 15 EPs and worked at an operational and strategic level within two LAs. David works within a range of settings including schools, colleges, Child and Adolescent Mental Heath Service (CAMHs) and private settings. He has specialist training in skills and duties of an Expert Witness, has experience in Tribunal and Disagreement Resolution Forum and provides assessment of children and families for Family Courts. He is a Fee Paid Judicial Office Holder for the First Tier Mental Health Tribunal Service and has been a member of LA Foster panels. David is an Associate Tutor on Manchester University Doctorate in Psychology course. he is a skilled trainer, having presented on a wide range of Psychology-related topics to small and large audiences. He works within a wide NW radius.
Pat Bennett (Member)
Pat qualified as an EP in 1997, following a 23 year career in teaching. Having retired from LA employment in 2016, she continues to work as an Independent EP. She has wide experience of working with schools and families to promote solutions to pupil’s school-based difficulties, in line with the SEND Code of Practice. This includes consultation and pupil assessment. Pat was, for 6 years an Associate Tutor and is now an Honorary Lecturer on the University of Sheffield EP training course, undertaking work as an examiner. She is also training as a counsellor with “Relate”. Pat is based in the NW and also undertakes work in the Medway area of Kent, as well as other areas of the country, by negotiation.
Adele Neil (Member)
Adele has worked as an EP for more than 20 years. She has held a range of posts in that time including Specialist Senior EP (Early Years) and Senior EP in a LA before becoming an Independent EP in 2014. She is passionate about supporting schools and Early Years settings to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children in their care and to promote inclusive practices. Adele has a particular interest and expertise in working with children with complex needs -Autism (ASC), Visual and Hearing Impairment; social and emotional behavioural difficulties and general and specific learning difficulties. Adele has developed a number of training packages which she has delivered to settings, aimed at promoting good practice and improving outcomes for children. These have been in the areas of ASC, social, emotional and behavioural skills development and nurture and attachment. She is able to work in the NW area and is based in Central Lancashire.
Rebecca Ashton (Member)
Rebecca qualified as an educational psychologist in 2003 and worked for 11 years in a Local Authority, including Senior and Principal EP posts. She loves to work with schools on a regular basis, building relationships over time to help organisations grow and develop. Rebecca is a strong believer in psychological consultation, in which we work together to understand the situation, agree ways forward and review how things have gone. She is skilled in person / client centred planning approaches. Alongside all the diverse issues that come with school link work, Rebecca has particular specialisms in neuropsychology and in Video Interaction Guidance. Rebecca is a child neuropsychologist and spends part of her time doing rehabilitation work with children who have had brain injuries. She teaches neuropsychology at Manchester University and University College London, and you will find Rebecca sharing her passion for the brain in all sorts of training and casework! Rebecca is also qualified (Stage 3) in Video Interaction Guidance, which is a positive therapeutic approach to improving attuned interactions between people, and which fits into her regular school visiting pattern.
Jennifer Waite (Member)
Jennifer qualified as an Educational Psychologist (EP) in 2013 at Manchester University and set up her own independent psychology practice, Waite Psychology Ltd, in 2018. Within her previous employment, Jennifer worked as a Senior EP with a Nurture specialism.
Jennifer provides a wide range of educational psychology support. Jennifer is particularly interested in the application of consultation and joint problem solving to devise and review action plans for pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Jennifer aims to ensure school staff and parents are empowered to find positive ways forward and that pupil voice is obtained throughout the process. She is skilled in supporting those working with pupils with emotional and social difficulties, through complex casework and training. Jennifer is also interested in devising systemic projects and delivering training to support whole school interventions.
Jennifer has interests within the areas of emotional health and wellbeing; early years development; resilience; Nurture and attachment. Jennifer continues to apply her Nurture specialism to support the set up and running of nurture groups across Lancashire through consultancy work and training.