Core Competency of Educational Psychologists

A. Knowledge base:

1. Psychological Foundations

  • including biological bases of behaviour, cognitive psychology & human learning, social and cultural bases of behaviour (e.g. social development, social psychology, social and cultural diversity, motivation), child and adolescent development, individual differences (e.g. human exceptionalities, developmental disorders)

2. Educational Foundations

  • including instructional design, organisational and operation of schools (e.g. special educational needs, inclusion, school and community-based resources, alternative service delivery systems, information technology)

3. Assessment/Intervention/ consultation and problem solving

  • including the professional expertise to collaborate with families and other professionals in the following areas:
    assessment through diverse models and methods linked to direct and indirect interventions;
  • design, implement and evaluate direct intervention, both individual and group, including counselling and behaviour management;
  • design, implement and evaluate indirect interventions, including consultation, training, systems and organisational change.

4. Statistics and Research Methodologies

  • including knowledge in research and evaluation methods, statistics and measurement, to ensure that the educational psychologists are competent consumers of research and new knowledge, and are able to use diverse methodologies, e.g. ethnographic, single subject designs, quantitative methods) to evaluate professional practice (e.g. intervention) and /or programmes.

5. Professional Educational Psychology

  • including the history and foundations of school psychology, legal and ethical issues, professional issues and standards, alternative models for the delivery of educational psychological services, the impact of information technologies, roles and functions of the educational psychologist

B. Applied Professional Skills

The following refer to the personal qualities and skills of the educational psychologists when carrying out the core tasks mentioned above:

1. Assessment

  • be able to collect data using a variety of enquiry methods, effective observation and questioning skills
  • be able to select the type, nature and extent of assessment techniques, both formal and informal, in order to provide information which is helpful in maximising student achievement, psychological adjustment and behavioural adaptation
  • be able to use assessment techniques and instruments which have established validity and reliability for the purposes and populations for which the procedure is intended
  • be able to interpret assessment results based upon empirically validated research and relevant environmental context
  • be able to communicate assessment results in clearly written reports
  • be able to establish a good rapport with the student (client) and focus on both strengths and weaknesses
  • be able to involve the parents, the teachers and other relevant carers in an collaborative relationship
  • be able to ensure the accuracy and safeguard the confidentiality of the assessment records

2. Direct Intervention

  • be able to use effective listening skills and empathy in counselling, and help others to produce ideas to solve problems
  • be able to determine options and revisions of educational programmes of the student as a result of the assessment procedure, and to provide systematic review of learning outcomes
  • be able to use a variety of individual counselling techniques applied in a face-to-face situation designed to enhance the mental health, behaviour, personality, social competency, academic or educational status of the student (client)
  • be able to conduct group programmes to enhance the cognitive, affective, social and vocational development of groups of students (clients)
  • be able to conduct group work with students and their parents
  • be able to provide counselling help and group programmes in accordance with relevant ethical guidelines of the profession
  • be knowledgeable about community agencies and resources to facilitate referral for the support of the student (client)
  • be able to provide a range of resources to schools at times of crisis, and to empower teachers to develop their own plans and train key staff in effective ways to deal with grief and loss.

3. Consultation and Problem Solving

  • be a good communicator and have good negotiating skills
  • be able to maintain good relationship with parents, school and outside personnel
  • be able to design and develop procedures for preventing educational failures, such as advising on the early identification of learning or behavioural difficulties and early intervention
  • be able to advise on school policy to promote student mental health and learning, to promote partnership between parents and schools, and to improve the educational systems
  • be able to advise on school policy to enhance inclusion and support for special needs
  • be able to facilitate the delivery of services by assisting those who play major roles in the education system, such as parents, school personnel, community agencies etc.
  • be able to serve on committees responsible developing and planning educational and educationally-related activities.

4. Training

be able to provide skill enhancement activities (such as inservice training, organisational development, programme planning and evaluation, vocational development and parent education programmes) to school personnel, parents, and others at school and in the community, regarding issues of human learning, development and behaviour.

5. Research and Project Development

  • be able to plan, collect data, analyse data, disseminate and translate research findings into practical applications within the school community
  • be able to utilise survey and other research methodology to identify trends and to analyse the organisational needs of the school
  • be able to develop and evaluate new teaching strategies to promote effective teaching and learning, and to assist in decision-making activities
  • be able to conduct research in accordance with relevant ethical guidelines of the profession

C. Other factors relevant to the Core Competency of EP

1. Continuing professional development – all educational psychologists must actively participate and engage in activities designed to continue, enhance and upgrade their professional training and skills and to help ensure quality service provision.

2. A CPD system has been developed with reference to the model established by the Division of Educational Psychology, Hong Kong Psychological Society, a minimum of 30 CPD points is required within each year for continued registration.

3. Accountability – all educational psychologists must perform their duties in an accountable manner by keeping records of their efforts, evaluate their effectiveness and modify their practice as needed.

4. In conjunction, under the “Code of Professional Conduct, Hong Kong Psychological Society, 2012”, educational psychologists are required to adhere to standards with regards to evidence based practice:

  • remain aware and acknowledge the limits of their methods and the conclusions resulting from the application of these methods.
  • not continue the psychological services provided to clients when they find that they yield no obvious benefit. In this situation, the member should seek consultation from a senior colleague or the responsible manager/ supervisor, as to the best course of action to take on behalf of the client.
  • attempt to ensure the responsibility of safe keeping and disposal of test materials and case records and ensure their proper use by qualified professionals.

5. The SBEPS guide provided further guidelines for educational psychologists to handle and store clients information:

  • The EP shall keep proper documentation of all referrals. Such documentation shall include the written referral from school, parental consent form on receiving the service and collection of personal information, Educational Psychologist’s report (original with signature), Assessment Summary for parent, reply letter, consultation record, test protocol as well as the SEMIS Data Input Form with assessment findings.
  • The EP shall ensure that the documentation of referrals are treated as ‘restricted’ documents and that all personal data is protected in accordance with the Data Protection Principles as given in the PDPO. Relevant information on PDPO can be found on the EDB website (“Privacy Policy” located at lower left hand corner of the EDB homepage) ( All documents shall be kept until the student (data subject) reaches the age of 21 or for 5 years counting from the date of referral, whichever the later date is.
  • The EP shall handle all test materials, protocols and professional reports according to the Code of Professional Conduct of the Hong Kong Psychological Society. The EP shall make reference to the Code for pertinent guidelines.
  • Request for reports by parents and professionals shall be handled following the procedures as given in the PDPO.
  • The EP shall ensure IT security which should cover but not limited to the following:
    (a) avoid saving restricted information in portable electronic storage devices (such as notebook computers, Personal Data Assistants (PDAs), Universal Serial Bus (USB) flash drives, data cards such as CF, XD, SD, memory stick, etc.);
    (b) encrypt personal data to ensure security, if using portable electronic storage devices is unavoidable. Delete such data from the device immediately when they are no longer needed;
    (c) keep portable electronic storage devices in a secure place and employ proper security measures (e.g. set passwords in computers, use laptop and notebook computer locks, etc.);
    (d) use security measures (such as firewall systems, anti-virus and malicious code detection and repair software) to safeguard the security of restricted and confidential information; and
    (e) report to the Senior Management immediately when there is a loss of the device containing personal or classified information.
  • The EP shall make reference to the following guidelines regarding IT security:
    (a) IT Security Guidelines (Homepage of Office of the Government Chief Information Officer > Information Security > Government IT Security Policy and Guidelines)
    (b) Information Security Incident Handling Guidelines (Homepage of Office of the Government Chief Information Officer > Information Security > Government IT Security Policy and Guidelines)
    (c) IT Security in Schools – Recommended Practice (Homepage of EDB > Education System and Policy > Primary and Secondary School Education > Applicable to Primary and Secondary School > IT in Education > On-going Support > IT Security in Schools – Recommended Practice)
  • EP shall properly keep resources (e.g. resource package) obtained in the name of the organization, and to return such resources in good condition upon leaving the service.

6. Professional ethics and guidelines – all educational psychologists must practise in full accordance with the ethical guidelines published by the Hong Kong Psychological Society.



  • America Psychological Association (1993) “Delivery of Comprehensive School Psychological Services : an Educator’s Guide”
  • National Association of School Psychologists (1995) “Best Practices in School Psychology III”, appendix III “Standards for Training and Field Placement Programs in School Psychology (1994)”
  • British Psychological Society, Division of Educational Psychology (1999) “The Professional Practice of Educational Psychologists”
  • Figg, J. (ed.) (1994) “Competent to Practise”, Educational and Child Psychology Vol 11, No. 1
  • Department for Education and Employment (DfEE), UK (2000) “Educational Psychology Services (England): Current Role, Good Practice and Future Directions”
  • Education Bureau (2016). “School-based Educational Psychology Service Guide”.