Beyond Books: resources to teach children and young people about racism

By Julia Howe and Anjam Sultana

wall with the text i can t breathe

Photo by ksh2000 on



We are in a crucial time when many people feel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement to learn more about the impact of racism and to teach their children about it. There have been many helpful lists of books for children produced in the last few days, for example: No reader is too young to start: anti-racist books for all children and teens. What may be less apparent is that there are a number of organisations such as charities and campaigning groups who publish educational materials about racism. This list is not intended to be complete or exhaustive but it may be helpful as a starting point if you are looking for resources to improve your own knowledge, to teach your children or to recommend to schools.

The resources here are all UK based to acknowledge that while there are commonalities in racism around the world, it also takes place within culturally specific contexts. We also recognise that the use of the term “race” is problematic and are using it here in the sense of difference being socially constructed, rather than biological. You can find the resources by clicking on the highlighted hyperlinks.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion

  • No Outsiders: while this initiative is not explicitly about racism it is designed to promote diversity, acceptance and inclusion in schools and can provide a foundation for other work. It is also one of the few initiatives that can be used with very young children through the use of picture books and stories.

Understanding the History of Race in the UK

  • Our Migration Story tells the untold history of migration to the UK since AD43, celebrating the lives and the contribution of migrants to the development of our society. The resources are presented in a range of formats and include lesson plans.
  • The Institute of Race Relations produced a series of excellent booklets in the 1980s about the history of race in Britain. These are still relevant and in print. They are presented as cartoons but are suitable for older children (secondary aged) and adults. They also publish a range of books, lesson plans and the journal Race and Class.
  • Black and British – A Forgotten History (BBC, 2016): Historian David Olusoga explores overlooked Black figures from British history. This series, and the supporting website, offer many potential resources to enrich a secondary school history curriculum.

Understanding Race and Diversity

  • Show Racism the Red Card is a charity that specialises in working with schools and young people. They produce resources about a range of inequalities including racism.
  • The Runnymede Trust is a leading independent think tank focusing on race equality. They produce a lot of academic research and also educational resources.
  • Kids of Colour is a YouTube platform for children and young people of colour to share and ‘explore their experiences of race, identity and culture and challenge the everyday institutionalized racism that shapes their lives’ in modern Britain. It offers a rich resource of videos of young people of colour sharing their experiences of racism.

We live in an information rich world and there are likely to be other helpful resources that we have missed. Please feel free to alert us and our blog readers to these through our comments box.

Julia is a tutor on the initial training course for educational psychologists at the University of Birmingham. Anjam is a local authority educational psychologist and an honoury lecturer on the course.


A rapid literature review of how to support the psychological well-being of school staff during and after Covid-19

By Amber Bhardwaj, Catherine Byng & Zoë Morrice

Editorial Note from Julia Howe, Course Tutor

This is a slightly different blog post from those that we normally publish. It is a piece of work commission by Dudley Educational Psychology Service (EPS) from the Year 1 trainees on the initial training course for educational psychologists at the University of Birmingham. The trainees were asked to complete a Rapid Review of literature from previous epidemics in order to provide evidence based guidance for the EPS on how to support school staff during and after the current pandemic. As mentioned in the review this guidance has been extrapolated from research mainly conducted with health care workers and in this respect it needs to be treated with caution. It has not been peer reviewed but we hope that it is still useful in supporting the work of local authorities and other services. For the practical reason of length I have taken out the table that provides an overview of the research studies and their methodologies but I can provide this if you contact me.


people wearing face mask for protection

Photo by cottonbro on



In light of Covid-19, this rapid literature review aims to examine what psychological support may be helpful for school staff during and after the pandemic. As there is very little evidence in relation to school staff this review will also examine the literature into what support is helpful for frontline healthcare workers during and following epidemics in order to consider how this can be applied to workers in other areas.

Summary of findings

Within the literature on how best to support staff during and after an epidemic, the key overarching principles were strengthening resiliency and empowerment by building on and mobilising existing resources. The literature identifies that within any support or intervention it is crucial to consider culture. This means that a ‘one size fits all’ approach would not be beneficial. Furthermore, the importance of a stepped approach was evident as the literature highlighted most individuals are highly resilient and do not require psychological intervention. Ensuring normal reactions to the situation, such as responses to grief and high stress, are not pathologized is therefore important. Key factors highlighted within these stepped approaches were first ensuring basic practical support needs were meet before considering emotional support.

The empowerment of individuals through the identification and development of coping/self-help strategies and psychoeducation about stress and anxiety, were evident within many papers. Furthermore, the importance of looking at the wider community systems in order to strengthen connectedness, belonging, and identify resources was highlighted. Social support was identified to be a key protective factor and measures implemented during epidemics such as social distancing were found to reduce social connectedness and support. Consideration of how to rebuild connectedness between families, friends, employers and colleagues is therefore important.

The most common programmes used within the literature to support frontline workers were Psychological First Aid and the Mental Health Gap Action Program (WHO, 2010). However, there is a distinct lack of evidence into the long-term outcomes of interventions in this area. So, some caution is necessary as there is not a clear understanding of how to intervene effectively.

In terms of how best to support workers during or following an epidemic from an organisational perspective the literature identifies key factors to be visible leadership, clear communication and open discussions, and building team cohesion. Furthermore, allowing individuals time to reflect and utilise peer support or supervision has been suggested as being helpful.

A needs assessment identifying what support individuals found helpful and what ongoing support staff would like may also be useful. Additionally, identification of individuals who may be ‘at risk’ of greater psychological difficulties to allow for monitoring and extra support if needed should be considered.

The literature indicates risk factors for greater psychological distress during or following an epidemic to be previous mental or physical health difficulties, personal impact of the epidemic (e.g. bereavement, loss of housing/income), low socio-economic status, and poor self-perceived social support. Finally, continual support for staff members development and learning, such as acknowledging reflective conversations as useful learning opportunities, is suggested to enhance resilience. Training staff on how to support others (e.g. peer support groups) has also been shown to not only support those receiving the help but also to be beneficial to the helpers’ wellbeing, however ensuring staff have an awareness of when to seek further help or supervision is key.


Based on the findings of this rapid literature review, the following recommendations for supporting frontline workers in the education sector have been provided:

Culture and context

  • EPs will need to gain knowledge of the existing systems of support that are already in place in settings. This can be achieved through multi-agency working and collaboration with key stakeholders.
  • Strong systems of support within the workplace during/after the pandemic may mitigate some of the potential adverse psychological outcomes for staff.
  • It is important to understand the individual characteristics of the staff who do require support, whilst also taking into consideration the complex dynamics of the organisation’s culture.
  • EPs should encourage visible leadership, clear communication and open discussions within settings, to enhance team cohesion.

Organisation and individual factors

Peer support/supervision and rebuilding connectedness   

  • EPs should support leadership to provide staff with the time to reflect on experiences, offer opportunities for ongoing peer support, and praise staff for their response to the situation.
  • If appropriate to the setting, EPs should consider setting up weekly peer support groups to create a safe space for staff to discuss emerging issues in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Peer support groups may also incorporate discussions and exercises with staff that focus on the development of coping strategies and enhancing resilience, to minimise the risk of burnout.
  • It may be necessary for EPs to facilitate open discussions between staff and senior leaders to encourage reciprocity of decision-making within organisations and encourage sensitivity to ethical and cultural considerations.
  • EPs should make use of the technology available to stay connected with schools, social workers and families throughout the period of social distancing and look to strengthen social connectedness within and between settings.

Assessment of individual needs

  • Individual and psychological support should be offered to members of staff who are considered to be ‘at-risk’ of greater psychological difficulty, and who may be displaying maladaptive responses/ coping strategies.
  • Factors that may place an individual at greater risk are; bereavement or illness of a relative or close friend, exposure to the COVID-19 outbreak at work, perceived level of risk at work, being quarantined, loss of housing/income, lower socio-economic status, and poor self-perceived social support.
  • For individuals requiring psychological support, action plans will need to be holistic, informed by evidence and make use of implementation strategies that are focused on sustainable, long term outcomes.
  • EPs will need to ensure they are only delivering mental health care that is within the boundaries of their competence. It may prove worthwhile for the whole service to engage in Psychological First Aid training.

Resiliency and empowerment

  • It will be important to consider how staff resilience can be continually promoted to develop protective factors that will facilitate personal empowerment and the ability to cope with both the personal and professional challenges of living and working through a time of crisis.
  • EPs can support leadership teams to encourage help-seeking amongst their staff and promote continual learning and development to enhance staff resilience.
  • It may be useful for EPs to determine suitable interventions to enhance staff resilience e.g. Psychological First Aid, and tailor these approaches to school staff.

Psychological Interventions

  • EPs should consider both the personal and professional burdens of school staff to establish the area of greatest need (e.g. practical vs personal) before planning an intervention.
  • Consultation, review and responsiveness should be embedded into the decision- making process before any intervention is carried out/continued, and ongoing evaluations conducted to ensure best practice is being achieved.
  • Formal psychological intervention should take a stepped approach. This includes ensuring basic practical needs are met before considering emotional support. This type of approach is addressed through the Psychological First Aid program.


Psychological First Aid (PFA)

  • PFA provides a programme of interventions that can be utilised by EPs to support staff and pupils during and after the pandemic e.g. building social support, normalising grief.
  • It may be appropriate for experienced EPs to train school staff and to deliver PFA within their own settings, incorporating interventions that focus on self-help/ coping strategies that can be used in their work to support one another.
  • Using a ‘train the trainer’ approach (EPs training school staff) may help staff by empowering them, as well as benefiting pupils.
  • EPs could offer supervision and/or facilitate the set-up of peer support networks within settings, e.g. buddy systems, to ensure staff who are implementing PFA have connection with social supports.
  • Important aspects of PFA may include supporting with/ teaching self-help strategies (e.g. relaxation techniques), practical support, psychoeducation about COVID-19, looking at community systems, normalisation of an anxiety response and knowing when to seek further help.


Search strategy

We searched the literature using a range of databases including PubMed, Google Scholar & FindIt@Bham. We used the key words keywords “Ebola” OR “SARS” OR “MERS” OR “Covid-19”AND “Mental health” OR “Intervention” OR “Mental health intervention” OR “Psychological intervention” OR “Psychosocial intervention” OR “Social intervention” OR “Mental health program” AND “Frontline worker” OR “Frontline staff” OR “Education” OR “Teachers”.

Selection criteria

Studies were included if they addressed the mental health of frontline staff. Studies focused on children or patient groups were excluded. We included any type of study design, report or review and included guidance from major organisations involved in responses to epidemics and pandemics such as the World Health Organisation.


The findings and guidance in this review needs to be viewed with caution because of the short timeframe and the less systematic approach to searching the literature. The synthetisation of evidence in this rapid review is not as rigorous as a systematic review would be. This may mean that evidence has been missed as our search is not as comprehensive as a systematic review. Our findings also need to be interpreted cautiously as we have extrapolated the data from frontline workers, usually healthcare workers during and after previous epidemics and used the findings to offer guidance to support school staff and social workers during the current pandemic. It may not be appropriate to extrapolate the data from one population to another. Some of the literature included was guidance from major organisations based on psychological principles but was not rigorous evidence based on experimental studies which may limit some of our findings.



BPS. (2020). The psychological needs of healthcare staff as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved from

Brooks, S. K., Dunn, R., Amlôt, R., Rubin, G. J., & Greenberg, N. (2018). A systematic, thematic review of social and occupational factors associated with psychological outcomes in healthcare employees during an infectious disease outbreak. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 60(3), 248-257.

Cénat, J. M., Mukunzi, J. N., Noorishad, P.-G., Rousseau, C., Derivois, D., & Bukaka, J. (2020). A systematic review of mental health programs among populations affected by the Ebola virus disease. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 131, 109966. doi:

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A week in the life of a trainee educational psychologist

By Ella Mansfield (Year 1 trainee educational psychologist)

magic keyboard

Photo by Lex Photography on



A week as a Trainee Educational Psychologist is hugely varied. Though it can sometimes feel overwhelming, I’ve found that I’m learning a huge amount and finding it both challenging and rewarding!


This Monday I woke up to horrible weather – I cycle to university so waking up to rain is never a good start! Still, I packed my bag and headed out into the damp, arriving at university at 9am for a meeting with five of my course mates. We were preparing for a 30-minute presentation on frameworks for practice to help educational psychologists formulate our casework that we were presenting to the rest of our cohort that morning. We sat in a café and ran through our slides, discussing any changes we needed to make. Having been a teacher before the course, I tend not to get too nervous about presenting, but that’s not the case for everyone as we’re from a variety of different backgrounds with different experiences. Our lecture started at 10am, each group presenting a different framework.

Presentations finished, we had a lecture on supervision in the afternoon. We have been on placement two days a week in various educational psychology services in the West Midlands for around three months now, each with a designated supervisor – a qualified EP who looks out for us and helps us organise our time. In the lecture we reviewed how we thought our supervision was going, and if there were any things that could be developed.

I try and do one thing each day that isn’t to do with the course. Having moved to Birmingham to study, two hours from where my family and friends live, I knew that I would need a structure to my week to help me meet new people and de-stress so, Monday is my ice hockey evening.


Another university day! We started at 9.30am with a cohort meeting. We have these meetings every fortnight to give us an opportunity to ask any questions we may have and plan events as a group. This week we mostly talked about socials coming up (we usually talk about things that are much more serious and important!).

Following this we had a lecture about assessment through teaching – a way of working out children’s needs through looking at how they learn over time. We focused on Precision Teaching, as this links to a task we are currently doing at placement. Maths skills is an area often overlooked in educational psychology, so it was valuable to learn how these skills develop for children and how Precision Teaching could be used to measure their learning.

In the afternoon, we had a lecture about the WIAT-III. This is an assessment used to measure a pupil’s attainments in language, literacy and numeracy. A focus in lectures is of the ethical implications of these tests and determining how and when they are appropriate for use.

My non-EP related activity of the day was a yoga class, which I do through the university’s student guild.


The first of the two placement days this week. My placement’s office is a half an hour drive from my house, which isn’t too bad at all. This Wednesday I had scheduled a day in the office to write up a report for a child I had been working with over the last few weeks. Her speech and language therapist had requested a report from an educational psychologist to help to see if she would benefit from a specialist speech and language provision.

I used the British Ability Scales 3 which is a cognitive assessment. I found this write up and scoring challenging as the assessment is new to me. I enjoyed some aspects of it, like analysing the results and trying to work out what might be the main cause of the child’s difficulties, as well as considering environmental factors and suggestions for how she could be helped in the classroom. However, I struggled with the idea that whatever I wrote in the report would have an impact on a real child and might change how life is for her. Next week I have a morning set aside to talk through what I have written with my supervisor, so I can check that I’m on the right track and discuss my thoughts about it.

Wednesday is pottery night!


My second placement day of the week. I was contributing to training about working with children and young people with ASD and ADHD for employees working in a range of social care roles in the local authority. The training lasted all day and was run by two educational psychologists from my placement service, as well as my course mate Dawn and myself. I found some aspects of the presentation difficult – there was an emphasis on personal stories to illustrate examples of practice. With a background in counselling I found this a bit tricky as I’m used to focusing on the individual rather than trying to relate things to other people’s experiences. I did think of a few examples I could use, but I know that as my placement experience continues, I will get more in tune with what kinds of examples might be useful, and how to present things in a confidential and respectful manner.


On Fridays we have a personal study day so all of the things I have put on my to-do lists over the week can be caught up on and I can get on with writing my essays. I always spend my study days in the library on the university campus as I find that I’m far more productive there than I am at home.

At the moment, we are working on our Assessment and Intervention module assignment, for which I am focusing on theories of dyslexia, and specifically whether it can be considered a specific learning difficulty or if it should be considered a spectrum of difficulty relating to poor reading skills. I’m finding the essay challenging as it’s a complex debate and there’s a lot to get into 4,000 words! However, I’m learning a lot from my writing, both about the topic area and about how to write academically at doctoral level.

So, there we go, that’s my week! I think from having written it down, I’ve realised how much I’m currently doing. The course is challenging and intense but also immensely engaging and worthwhile. Though I often feel overwhelmed by how much needs to be done, I’m always excited for what the day has to bring, and I feel immensely lucky to have the opportunity to study such a fascinating subject.

About me

Before starting the course at Birmingham, I worked for three years as a Psychology Teacher and Specialist Mentor for 16-19 year olds at a large comprehensive Sixth Form College in Surrey. I volunteered and worked in counselling roles at charities since the age of 17 (the Samaritans, Nightline and Childline) and co-ordinated a branch of Nightline whilst at university. I also worked with children (5-25) with multiple and profound disabilities for four years at an afterschool and holiday club.

I realised that I wanted to be an Educational Psychologist when I was 19, as a friend’s mum suggested that it might be a role that would suit both my interests and my personal skills. Having applied through the AEP in 2017 and being unsuccessful (I had one interview that year at UEA, but if I’m honest, I didn’t fully understand what I was applying for!), in 2018 I applied for four universities (Birmingham, Southampton, UEA and Cardiff) with a fresh sense of purpose. The interview process was demanding – continuing with my full-time job whilst studying in my evenings and weekends. But the hard work paid off and I accepted a place at Birmingham, my favourite of the universities I had applied to! I chose the Birmingham course because of its holistic approach to educational psychology; it offered the opportunity to develop my skills without being directional in the type of practitioner I would become. So far, I am finding it a thoroughly positive experience. I have settled in well at Birmingham and whilst the course is intense, I am loving it.


The DECP TEP Conference 2020

By Paige Garbett and Olivia Rogers

2020 1Last week, we had the pleasure of attending this year’s Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP) conference for trainee educational psychologists in Northampton.

We were able to attend 6 different presentations throughout the day. The first was Dr Kathryn Morgan who trained at the University of Cardiff and presented her thesis research exploring mothers’ experiences of the Incredible Years Parents and Babies Programme and their perceptions of parenting following the programme. Kathryn’s research focused on gathering personal accounts from mothers. Her findings highlight the importance of social connectedness, feeling supported and empowered as a result of enhancing parenting knowledge and increasing feelings of confidence in parenting. The findings were further discussed in relation to broader psychological theories and concepts such as social identity theory, self-determination theory and the notion of practice-based evidence.

Dr Patricia Britto, who trained at UCL Institute of Education presented her thesis research study which explored the role metacognition plays in developing Looked After Children’s reading fluency and comprehension skills. Patricia highlighted the reading outcomes and literacy attainment gap between LAC and their peers by Key Stage 2, and the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences upon learning for this group of children. Patricia’s findings suggest that directly teaching metacognitive processes supported reading development and increased confidence, motivation and enjoyment of reading for the children and families involved. The importance of working collaboratively with teachers, parents, carers and other professionals to support the academic attainment of Looked After Children was also raised as a key implication of the study.

Rebecca Best, who trained at the UCL Institute of Education presented her thesis 2020 2research that explored the educational experiences of adopted children and their parents. Rebecca highlighted the societal misconception that adopted children are no longer impacted by the trauma they experienced earlier in life. Rebecca’s findings indicated that adopted children and their parents shared a mixture of educational experiences relating to inner turmoil, social disconnection, unsupportive social contexts, misconceptions and prejudice, and relational repair. Rebecca used the findings to support teaching staff with raising awareness of adopted children and supporting them within education. She suggested that educational psychologists can have an important role with keeping adopted children visible within education.

2020 3It was particularly exciting to listen to a previous University of Birmingham trainee, Sasha-Louise Simon, present her doctoral research where she explored the educational narratives of achieving Black Caribbean boys in secondary mainstream education. This study aimed to shift the persistent narrative of Black Caribbean pupils as underachievers in the UK and provide a more balanced portrayal of these young people. Sasha’s narrative approach to data collection allowed for rich, detailed stories to be reported for each participant. Key themes that the boys identified as supportive were: parental expectation, peer influence, teacher involvement and support and self-reflection. The data highlighted the importance of peer group and family support more so than school for the young people. Sasha noted that educational psychologists often have specific tools available to use when working with young people and families experiencing inequality, such as person-centred and narrative approaches to consultation with key adults.

Tim Cox, a year three trainee educational psychologist at the University of Newcastle2020 4 presented his research findings relating to the concept of hope and how educational psychologists can act as “agents of hope”. Tim explored the psychological theories relating to hope which included Snyder’s Hope Theory. Tim highlighted the associations between hope and positive life outcomes and the different types of hope: good, wishful, and wilful hope. Tim shared “hope as the common ground and language of educational practice”. As educational psychologists there are frameworks and approaches that we can use in planning to encourage hope such as person centre planning.

The final session of the day was presented by Vicky Mullan and Annie McGowan, third year trainees at the University of Southampton. They presented their year 1 research which explored school professional’s views on emotionally based school avoidance. This project aimed to understand what professionals’ views were of school avoidance and how this could contribute to guidance supporting this area. Vicky and Annie used inductive analysis to identify several themes relating to the area. The findings highlighted factors school professionals felt related to school avoidance such as parental mental health, transitions from primary to secondary and social isolation. They also identified challenges such as lack of guidance and accessibility to external agencies and helpful factors such as effective multi agency working and home school relationships. This suggest educational psychologists have a role in supporting school avoidance and that school professionals value support external agencies have to offer however Vicky and Annie did highlight the need for further research into effective interventions.

We would like to say thank you to all the presenters for offering honest and authentic experiences of conducting research as part of the doctorate. It was an inspiring day that reassured us that completing the doctorate is achievable despite its challenges!

Paige is a Year 1 trainee and Olivia is a Year 2 trainee on the initial training course for educational psychologists at the University of Birmingham.

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