Featured job: Clinical Psychologist, West Kirby Residential School

From the April 2017 edition.

Nicky Tolley is Head of Therapy and Additional Support Services at West Kirby School, a specialist non-maintained day and residential SEN college for pupils with complex needs. She tells me this is a specialist role. ‘We aim to become a centre of excellence, so this role offers real opportunities to a clinical psychologist who generates creative, flexible solutions.’ The school can take up to 115 children – the youngest at the moment is seven, the oldest 19. ‘Pupils stay from one to four nights a week and come from all areas of the country. We are developing 52-week residential provision, which will also develop the role. We employ four speech and language therapists, an occupational therapist, a pastoral care team, a school nurse and other staff: around one hundred staff in all. This enables us to provide a full multidisciplinary, individualised and structured approach for every child.'

There is a full job description and person specification on the school’s website. Rather than repeat this information, Nicky described some of the highlight issues. ‘This is not merely a consulting role; he or she must be prepared to work closely within a multidisciplinary team. We work with pupils and families over long periods of time, so we can be more creative and go much deeper than in many NHS roles. It’s a three-day-a-week, term-time role, so it might suit someone with a private practice or who is interested in teaching, writing or supervision.

‘Most of our pupils have comorbid diagnosis and approximately 80 per cent have a diagnosis of autistic spectrum condition, increasingly with mental health issues. The clinical psychologist must have experience working with this client group. We’re looking for someone who can use and interpret a range of assessments, integrate them and help other staff apply them. Mental capacity assessments are important to protect young people and help them transition from children’s to adult services. The Clinical Psychologist will be really involved here.

‘The behaviour of traumatised pupils can be distressing and other staff need support from the Clinical Psychologist. We also believe the role can help the pastoral care team in more stringent behaviour analysis and interventions. Behaviour is a form of communication, and we are always looking to understand the pupils better and provide person-centred approaches.’

What personal qualities will be most valuable? ‘Humour, hard work, energy, loyalty and resilience in what is an emotional and sometimes stressful environment. In return you’ll work with really inspiring people and get a chance to shape our future. This is also a superb area of the country.’ And images of West Kirby confirm that last point. It’s a seaside resort on the Wirral Peninsula, with a Victorian promenade, a marine lake offering water sport, and good road and rail access to the rest of Wirral, North Wales and Liverpool. ‘Where we are allows us to offer a lot of outdoor activities.’

One final point from Nicky. ‘You’ll be the only Clinical Psychologist here but you won’t be isolated in what’s a vibrant, energetic team.’

- Find out more.

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