The draft paper, compiled by the Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists (ASPEP), appears at a time when the Scottish Government has decided to withdraw funding for students on the two-year educational psychology MSC course. Strathclyde University and the University of Dundee run courses in Scotland, both of which started this week.
The report predicts 55 practising psychologists will be lost from a workforce of 400, mainly due to retirement. The author of the internal paper warns: "A shortage of educational psychologists in Scotland in 2012-13 is close to being a certainty."
It claims the problem is already significant, adding: "Many psychological services have over the years run understaffed with vacant posts and no staff for illness and maternity leave cover."
In July 2012 there were 36.7 job vacancies, split between full-time and temporary posts in Scottish local authorities, where educational psychologists help young people who are experiencing social or emotional problems or learning difficulties, usually within schools.
The potential shortage has caused concern among teachers and other agencies which rely on the help of educational psychologists to tackle the difficulties faced by some pupils.
Drew Morrice, assistant secretary of teachers' union the Educational Institute of Scotland, fears psychological services will increasingly only have the capacity to deal with emergencies, rather than pro-actively tackling the problems of young people, if the Scottish Government does not reverse its decision to stop paying the post-graduates students' annual course fees of £9350.
Mr Morrice compares the Scottish system unfavourably with the English one, where a decision was taken only last year to copy the previous Scottish funding model, by investing £16 million to pay student fees. "There is a very real possibility that a removal of funding for Scottish educational psychology training routes will result fairly rapidly in a similar scenario developing in Scotland to that experienced by English local authorities," he says.
"We are facing a situation where there will be a shortfall in numbers which would have the effect of reducing the role of educational psychologists to crisis management rather than fulfilling that envisioned in the Government's policy."
Mr Morrice warns education authorities could be at risk of a legal challenge if they cannot hire the requisite number of psychological staff to act for children who have the statutory right to see a psychologist. He said: "There is a very real danger some authorities may be in default of their statutory obligations if they don't have enough educational psychologists.
"Another consequence of this could be that educational psychologists would be unable to fulfil their role of supporting teachers, leaving a poorer education service, if they are driven to only manage cases they are required to do under law.
"We think it was an ill-informed decision. The Education Secretary should have taken a step back, continued to support post-graduate training and then enter into discussion with ASPEP, while working with the trade unions and local authorities to look at alternative funding."
There are fears a fall in the number of educational psychologists would not only impact education departments but also the children hearing system. Input from educational psychologists can be vital to making good decisions about the welfare of children, but obtaining it is notoriously slow and difficult.
Angela McGroarty, chairman of the Scottish Association of Children's Panels, said: "There would be a concern as even fewer education psychologists available would delay the process. This means children wouldn't be getting help when they need it, so they can be assessed to get the right help to let them move forward."
One consequence of the funding change could be that able Scottish trainees will now move south of the Border, to avoid having to pay fees. Educational psychologists who have their fees paid in England have to commit to working for an English education authority for a further two years after graduation.
Jenny Marra, Labour MSP for North East Scotland, was contacted by one constituent forced to move to England for this reason. Ms Marra says: "I have had a young woman approach me because she wants to train to be an educational psychologist but changes to the funding have priced her out of the Scottish education system. She is now going to Southampton to train. It's a great pity because this Oxford graduate wanted to stay in Scotland to study and work. We've lost her as a result of the Scottish Government's changes.
"The folly of [Education Secretary] Michael Russell's changes is that he has drawn an over-simplistic line between what is undergraduate and postgraduate study, and not considered at all that some of this training is for vocational careers in the public sector, where salaries can't sustain paying back commercial career development loans.
"Educational psychology is a critical service, especially in areas of high deprivation. An early intervention by an educational psychologist can prevent further referrals and further problems for children. It is not a luxury service. People who want to dedicate their lives to this should not be priced out by overly simplistic funding decisions."
A Scottish Government spokesman said there was no shortage of qualified staff to fill posts, adding: "The Scottish Government introduced funding arrangements for education psychology postgraduates a number of years ago to address a staffing shortage.
"There is no longer a shortage so this course has been brought into line with funding for other postgraduate areas. We do not expect any change in the number of students graduating, however we will continue to work with the Educational Psychologists Workforce Planning Group to monitor any impact on student numbers and recommend action required."
The Government's decision not to pay the course fees and living expenses for the 24 places on the course is expected to save £1.2m a year.
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