Veronica is a chartered educational psychologist with expert knowledge of Specific Learning Difficulties and behavioural issues. She is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS), she belongs to the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) and is accredited by the Health and Care Professionals Council (HPCP)
Veronica has worked as an EP for nearly 30 years and has been attached to both mainstream and special schools within the state sector. In the late 90s she set up and ran a successful independent Educational Psychology service and has assessed many hundreds of pupils and provided advice and support to pupils, parents and teachers.
She is currently a Governor at Fairley House School, a leading independent specialist school catering for pupils aged 6 to 16 with dyslexia and dyspraxia. She has served as Chairman of the Trustees at the Dyslexia Teaching Centre in London.
Veronica has an Honours degree in Psychology from Bedford College, London University, a Masters degree in Educational Psychology from University College, London and a postgraduate certificate in Education.
As a psychologist:
Veronica is interested in all that impacts on the ways in which children learn. There are so many factors which can influence how easily and successfully pupils can learn and which must always be taken into account. Motivation, self-knowledge, ability and the learning environment are just a few. It is a complex field and therefore brings endless challenge and fascination.
Veronica has been interested in behaviour for many years. A child’s behaviour so often brings a message. We need to look at behaviour – whether it is challenging, demanding, withdrawn or whatever –to see if there are clues as to what may be happening or going awry for a particular child.
The link between behaviour and emotions became very evident when she worked as a house mother looking after delinquent boys within a therapeutic community and when she subsequently taught in a school for pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties.
She learnt about the impact which early experiences can have on a child’s development and their emotional control and of the importance of helping children to take responsibility for their behaviour.
She is also adamant that the learning experiences which children are exposed to during the preschool years provide a crucial basis for school readiness and success in school.
As a writer:
Veronica wants to connect with as wide an audience of parents as possible. In particular she hopes that she will be able, through her book to provide information, inspiration and good practical advice to the parents of children, who for one reason or another, have hit a barrier with their learning. There is much information out there (the internet is a phenomenal resource) but it may not feel joined up and it may leave parents frustrated and at times lonely.
Veronica hopes that her book will be of comfort and support to parents who are getting to grips with their children’s educational needs. They are after all their child’s best resource and much rests on their shoulders.
What inspired you to write this book?
I always wanted a book which I could give to parents which they could use for reference. I wanted a book which would explain the various learning difficulty labels. I wanted a book which would provide advice and support. It has been difficult to find such a book so I decided to write it myself.
For most parents it can be really daunting to find that their child has a learning difficulty and that they will need to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Unlike teachers and other educational professionals parents have had no training. It can be hard for them to know where to start.
Parents are looking for guidance. My hope is that this book will be of help; I hope it will provide encouragement and that the stories included will inspire optimism.
Why did you think it was important to cover such a wide range of difficulties?
We talk about dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, dyscalculia etc as separate conditions. But many of these conditions can exist together. Some children seem to have a bit of this and a bit of that and no two children are identical.
My aim in writing this book has been to cover a wide canvas which will give parents the information they need to understand their unique child and to decide how best to support and help. It helps to look at the big picture to ensure that any diagnosis is correct and that the most appropriate help is put in place.
What advice would you give to parents of a child who has had a recent ‘diagnosis’ of learning difficulty?
Do not panic but do take it seriously. The problem will not evaporate overnight. Learn all you can about the condition. Plan appropriate help and make sure that it can be fitted into family life in a sustainable way.
You will need to talk with her teachers and the school special needs coordinator. Find out what help school can provide and make sure that progress is regularly reviewed. Aim to work in partnership with school staff.
Its important to think about how you can make sure that she remains confident and happy; she should have plenty of opportunity to do the things which she is good at. Try and see the world through her eyes and do remember never ever discuss her with others in her hearing.
Read this book!
How is this book helpful for teachers?
The book outlines the problems which children with different specific difficulties are likely to experience in the classroom. This provides pointers for the correct identification of a Spld. If a teacher is already aware that one of the children in her class has a difficulty the relevant chapter of the book will provide suggestions for helping and teaching. Kind and sympathetic teachers can make an incredible difference.
Tell us about your background. How did you become an educational psychologist?
My career as an educational psychologist started once my four children were in school. First came a psychology degree, then postgrad teacher training, a period of teaching and of course a masters degree in educational psychology. I have loved every minute of it!
During the time that I was qualifying it became apparent that my youngest son had difficulty with literacy. He was identified as being dyslexic. His difficulties were at the more serious end of the spectrum and in addition his attention and concentration were poor.
This firsthand experience of the highs and lows of parenting a wonderful but non traditional learner means that I have been able to appreciate and empathise with parental anxiety and concerns.