President’s column; ethical code changes; going green with the DOP; and more

President’s column
Sue Gardner
Contact Sue Gardner via the Society’s Leicester office,
or e-mail: [email protected]

The Society consists of a number of member networks including Branches, Sections and Divisions. The work of these subsystems is brought together under the auspices of our five Boards. I’d like to summarise some of the current work of three of the Boards and tackle the others in future columns.

The Research Board sponsors an extremely popular Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme, with research opportunities offered across a diverse range of areas. This year the research placements were undertaken on working memory, facial composites and children’s early narrative skills. The recipients are required to produce a poster presentation for next year’s Annual Conference in Stratford, from 14 to 16 April. I hope to meet them there.

The Society has a joint award with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. This award enables a postgraduate research student to be seconded for three months to work at POST, assisting with the development of policy briefing notes for Select Committees and other such forums. Previous POSTnotes included CCTV and facial identification, delaying gratification, eating disorders and alternatives to custodial sentencing. Further details can be found on the website.

A joint Ethics Committee and Research Board working party has been preparing a Code of Research Ethics. This code will bring together all of the existing guidance from the Society, including that for research conducted within health settings. The document is being finalised now ready for discussion at both parent bodies.

The Research Board is awaiting the launch of the consultation on ‘The Future of Research Excellence’. This consultation is particularly important as it will indicate the classification of psychology in future assessment exercises. We are arguing for the inclusion of psychology as a science. Further details are available from [email protected].

The Professional Practice Board (PPB) supports the work of practitioner or applied psychologists. The Board produces a wide range of guidance, and recent projects have focused on Approved Clinicians, generic Professional Practice Guidelines and the Provision of Psychological Services via the Internet. Approved Clinicians are mental health professionals who take on a role introduced by the Mental Health Act (2007). This role consists of functions previously carried out by doctors as Responsible Medical Officers (RMOs). The Society is issuing guidance for members taking on this role to help applied psychologists in reaching clinically defensible decisions in the best interests of patients, their families and friends within the provisions of the act.

The PPB sponsors workshops for independent practitioners which are proving to be popular. There are also several awards offered by the PPB including for lifetime achievements and for distinguished contribution to professional psychology. For more information, e-mail [email protected].

The Psychology Education Board (PEB) covers issues at both secondary/pre-tertiary and tertiary levels of education. The A-level and Scottish Highers 2008 award has been processed and four of the winners will attend the Festival of Science. The processing of the Undergraduate Award for 2009 is nearing completion. It is good to celebrate the successes of those who will lead the discipline in the future. An e-newsletter is being launched for pre-tertiary teachers to give them news, relevant information and notices of conferences and other events. The PEB and the Division of Teachers and Researchers in Psychology are hosting an ‘Education’ themed day at the Annual Conference. We hope that this will make it easier for those in the classroom or lecture hall who find it difficult to leave teaching for several days to have all the relevant aspects of the conference on one day. The teaching award lecture will be delivered on the same day (see opposite) and there will be opportunities for networking and sharing best practice.

I hope that this has given you a feel for some of the exciting work being undertaken at the moment in just three areas of the Society.


Learning centre
To have your CPD event approved by the Society and for a catalogue of forthcoming opportunities, see or call 0116 252 9512.To advertise your event in The Psychologist, e-mail [email protected] or call +44 116 252 9552.
A diary of non-approved events can be found at

Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology

David Groome, Alex Haslam and Steve Reicher

It is through the teaching of psychology that new generations of psychologists are inspired and the profession progresses, so each year the Society seeks to recognise and reward inspirational psychology teachers through the Psychology Education Board’s Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award.

Because of the high calibre of nominations this year, the panel decided to take the unusual step of making the  award jointly to Dr David Groome (University of Westminster), and to Professor Alex Haslam (University of Exeter) and Professor Steve Reicher (University of St Andrews).

Dr David Groome was put forward for the award after former students of the University of Westminster lobbied Professor Angela Clow. ‘Two academic psychologists who recall his lectures with warmth and who both felt strongly that he should be recognised for his teaching initially suggested his nomination for the this award,’ says Angela in her nomination.

David has been a consistently popular and inspirational lecturer at the University of Westminster over the last four decades. The time and thought he puts into developing innovative teaching methods that make his lectures relevant, interesting and interactive is recognised by colleagues and students alike. Comments made on feedback forms from Dr Groome’s lecture modules colourfully illustrate his popular teaching style: ‘Interesting, funny and useful’; ‘fantastic, clear and presented in a way that I learned a lot from them’; ‘excellent – he is a legend’.

As well as the long-lasting positive influence Dr Groome has had on many of his students, this award also recognises his commitment to developing the psychological sciences programme at the University of Westminster. In her nomination, Professor Clow cites David as being ‘absolutely central to the development of psychological sciences since his arrival at the University of Westminster in 1970; setting up the first psychology degree and then developing the syllabus so that it was successfully validated by the British Psychological Society’. As acting head of department, David’s continued commitment ensures the university’s psychology degree remains popular and successful.

On receiving the award, David told us: ‘I am absolutely delighted to receive this award, and it is really touching to discover that some of my ex-students and colleagues actually thought I was worth nominating for it. This is definitely one of the high points of my very lengthy career, and all the more so because I had pretty unpromising beginnings. Not many people know this, but I actually failed the eleven-plus. So this bit of success shows that people should always be given a second chance. And one thing is for sure, Sir Cyril Burt would not have been happy to hear about this.’

This year’s teaching award also went jointly to Professor Alex Haslam and Professor Steve Reicher. Their 2001 BBC Prison Study, revisiting the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment to explore issues like tyranny and collective resistance, has gone on to become a core topic of psychology curricula, including the OCR psychology A-level and the Open University’s social psychology course.

Not only did the series ignite the interest of the general public, it also led to articles in leading journals such as the British Journal of Psychology (and see their article in The Psychologist at However, as Dr Michelle Ryan (University of Exeter) and Dr Nick Hopkins (University of Dundee) say in their nomination: ‘The most lasting legacy is their impact on psychology curricula across the UK, and the pioneering way that Haslam and Reicher developed innovative resources’ to support its teaching.’

Using a multi-media approach, Professors Haslam and Reicher developed a DVD, manual, website and podcasts to support the teaching of the subject. Teachers and students alike continue to find these resources engaging, informative and stimulating; prompting positive reviews such as: ‘Its usefulness for teaching will be phenomenal, this is a must-see for any social psychology course’, and ‘I will be using the DVD as a revision lesson for my students and will do a much better job of teaching this fab study next year’.

Alex and Steve have also given up their time to give many lectures on their work, addressing large and diverse audiences. These lectures have been incredibly well received due to both professors’ enthusiasm and passion for the subject which they convey to their rapt audiences.

On receiving this award, Professor Alex Haslam told The Psychologist: ‘We were both really pleased to receive this award and see it as a great honour. It means a lot to us because it arose from our collaboration on the BBC Prison Study – a project that we’ve been working on pretty solidly for the last eight years. Over this time we’ve focused on trying to translate the study’s findings into both research and teaching outcomes and on showing that these things are not necessarily incompatible. Along the way we‘ve learned a lot ourselves, and have benefited from wonderful support from teachers, students and colleagues. This has been the source a lot of our motivation, but it’s also been a lot of fun and something for which we’re incredibly grateful.’

The winners of the 2009 Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology were all given free life membership of the Society and a commemorative certificate. They have also been invited to give papers on the teaching of psychology at the Society’s Annual Conference in 2010, where they will receive their award.

‘Going Green’
The Division of Occupational Psychology has established a new working group – Going Green – to promote the issue of pro-environmental behaviour and green management within the Division.  The group is specifically aiming to generate new research and identify good practice regarding how to change employee and consumer environmental attitudes and behaviours.

To build a community of occupational psychologists with an interest in this area and highlight the contribution that the profession can make, Going Green is planning the following key activities:I    establish an e-group where individuals can discuss this topic and share good practice (available through the ‘communities of interest’ link on;
I    create and promote a business forum to connect with a wide range of stakeholders;
I    establish an MSc research competition to engage young researchers;
I    contribute to publications such as Personnel Today and People Management to reach a wider audience;
I    organise a one-day symposium with state-of-the-arts from practitioners and academics;
I    conduct an industry survey investigating key aspects of green behaviour;
I    hold a practitioner forum at the 2010 DOP Conference; and
I    keep members informed of progress through follow-up articles in The Psychologist and POW.

There is a real chance for occupational psychologists to make a difference, and the DOP is encouraging all interested members to get in touch via [email protected].


Taking psychology to society
The Publication and Communications Board set up their annual grants scheme for members to ‘take psychology to society’. Any form of project is welcome, from street parties to webpages to mini-conferences – provided that one of the outcomes is some form of sustainable resource that will reach as large an audience as possible. This year, 19 applications were received, three of which received funding.

Kathryn Rathouse received £1600 to put on a masterclass for organisations responsible for promoting water efficiency. It will be run in collaboration with Waterwise (an NGO focused on reducing water waste in the UK). During the masterclass, experts will explain the psychological principles, give some case studies showing how the principles have been successfully applied, and discuss with delegates the implications for their day-to-day work. The session is to be held in early December 2009 at Defra’s offices, London.

Sally Hodges received £5000 to create an educational DVD to promote an online mental health resource for primary school children. The DVD will contain information on how to use the site, how to make the puppets children will see on the site and information on how to talk to children about their worries, together with ideas for further support. The DVD will be reusable throughout schools and will be both educational and promotional.

Finally, Ann Rowland received £7313 to provide the psychological dimension to a website for bereaved young people. In collaboration with the Child Bereavement Charity, a young people’s advisory group will be set up to seek views and opinions of young bereaved people. These views will then be used as a foundation to develop a resource for parents, carers and educational professionals to give them greater insight into the needs and experiences of young people affected by death.

The next round of funding will commence in the spring of 2010.

There is no limit to the amount of funding available, other than the overall grants budget of £14,000. Further information, including approved target audiences and details of assessment criteria, can be found at

Ethical code change
To take account of the change in the role of the Society in relation to professional misconduct, some minor changes to the Code of Ethics and Conduct have been implemented with effect from 1 August 2009. The changes mainly reflect the role of the Health Professions Council in the regulation of practitioner psychologists and the new Member Conduct Rules. New information is also provided in relation to ethics support and guidance that is available for members. Whilst these changes are not significant, all members are encouraged to obtain a copy and re-familiarise themselves with its contents and overarching principles. A copy of the new Code can be downloaded from or hard copies are available from the Society’s Leicester office on request. 

Further to the revised Code, additional ethics guidance and support (including frequently asked questions) can be found at
and two new e-mail addresses have been launched to assist members seeking guidance in relation to practice ethics and research ethics ([email protected] and  [email protected])

Society members prepared responses to the following consultations during August:
1.    Better Diabetes Care (Scotland)
2.    Consultation on Guidance About Compliance with the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Registration Requirements) Regulations (2009) (Care Quality Commission)
3.    Draft Guidance on Provisions to Deal with Nuisance or Disturbance Behaviour on NHS Premises in England (Department of Health)
4.    Guidance on Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Looked After Children (Department for Children, Schools & Families – DCSF)
5.    Handling Allegations of Abuse Made Against Adults who Work with Children and Young People (DCSF)
6.    NHS Clinical Knowledge Summaries – Draft on Schizophrenia (NHS Clinical Knowledge Summaries)
7.    Review of Secure Mental Health Services (Welsh Assembly Government)

In the response to the DCSF regarding their draft Guidance on Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Looked After Children (no 4 in the list above), the following points were raised:
I    the draft guidance generally espouses a medical model of health     but the evidence indicates that the main focus of the service should be psychological and preventive;
I    the designated doctor and nurse are given key roles in the delivery of services even though many psychological issues have been identified;
I    there is no mention of longer-term educational, employment and criminal justice implications for looked after children;
I    no strategy is identified for dealing with the transition from child to adult services.

The Department of Health’s Draft Guidance on Provisions to Deal with Nuisance or Disturbance Behaviour on NHS Premises in England (number 3 in the list above) was found to be too long, too prescriptive, to contain too many steps, to create additional duties of care, and to get in the way of current practice to maintain a safe environment: it was therefore considered likely to be difficult to implement. The guidance also risks re-balancing too far towards the offender with reasonable excuse and placing too great an emphasis on exempting groups of individuals who may otherwise be liable for an offence. Various proposals for how the guidance could be developed were made including:
I    widening the mental health conditions that might present with reasonable excuse;
I    making clear the effect of nuisance/disturbance on NHS staff’s ability to conduct their work and preserve a therapeutic environment (thus including the effect of nuisance/disturbance on service users and carers);
I    making mental health awareness training mandatory.

The preparation and submission of the Society’s responses to consultations on public policy is coordinated by the Policy Support Unit (PSU). All members are eligible to contribute to responses and all interest is warmly welcomed. Please contact the PSU for further information ([email protected]; 0116 252 9926/9577). Details of active and completed consultations are available at:

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