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DECAP - Shortlisting of 2019 Applications

Competition for a place on the DECAP course is extremely high and scoring for shortlisting involves grading each of three dimensions separately (Academic Ability, Personal Statement and Self-Reflection, and Readiness for Training).  In order to provide useful information to non-shortlisted applicants we drew on an analysis of the top three application forms which obtained the highest scores overall.  We also looked at six applications which failed to meet the criteria for interview.  It is hoped that this information will be useful to those who may wish to re-apply in the future.

 The process was as follows:

  1.  There was a total of 71 applications.  These were read, discussed and marked by all six markers on each of the three dimensions;
  2.  Applicants were selected for interview on the basis of their ordering on the list of marks;
  3.  32 applicants were offered interviews.


Applicants who reached the criteria for interview

Academic Ability

The quality of presentation of the highest scoring applicants was very high.  Their qualifications were laid out in an orderly and systematic way with module marks/grades and evidence of distinction absolutely clear.  Unfortunately, as stated in the application guidance, candidates who did not provide a transcript of their degree marks placed themselves at a disadvantage.  A very clear lay-out is important.  All had either 1st class, very high 2.1 degrees in Psychology or clear evidence of high academic ability through marks and grades gained in postgraduate study.  The written work in the forms was very clear and logical, and demonstrated coherent thought processes and an effective writing style.  All of the applicants seemed to have read and drawn on the advice available in the Guide for Applicants.

Readiness for Training

This category mainly refers to previous relevant experience but also involves other aspects of the application form such as the personal statement.  Here the shortlisting panel considered the complex interplay between length and breadth of experience, and the degree of responsibility held.  Some, but not all, applicants had a wide range of relevant experience, and these applicants usually provided a very brief indication of what was involved in each experience.  Among the types of experience listed were Assistant EP roles, teaching, research work, post-graduate research qualifications, specialist courses including counselling, classroom assistant work, various types of health/social service work and voluntary work.  Much of the experience gained was with children and young people, and at least some of this work was supervised.  When applicants focused on single experiences (e.g. teaching) they spent some time showing not only how they had benefited from this experience but also how they had used their knowledge of psychology to inform their practice.  Not all applicants had experience in a specialist setting though most had experience with 'special' / 'at risk' individuals or groups with SEN.  All applicants were able to relate their experience, skills and competences to educational psychology training.  All the applicants mentioned the skills and competences which they had acquired from their experiences and they did this quite explicitly.  It was not just experience which impressed but what they had gained and what they had made of their experiences.  The best applicants were also able to discuss their experience in the context of relevant psychological theories and evidence.  Previous experience was clearly laid out and any gaps in employment were accounted for.  Total hours worked were correctly calculated.

Personal Statement and Self-Reflection

This section is usually the greatest challenge to all applicants.  There was a wide difference between the top and bottom scoring applicants.  The highest scoring applicants showed a mature reflection on where they were in terms of their life, experience, motivation and learning and had the capacity to express a broad and balanced perspective.  Most included a brief explanation on why they were interested in the role.  They were thoughtful in how their qualifications, motivations, experiences and personal qualities related to each other and were relevant to their application.  They used their psychological knowledge and understanding in a very explicit way, often weaving it through their statement.  They showed evidence of self-knowledge.  They showed how they had encountered and dealt with challenges before.  They looked forward to EP training and were able to show how they thought they were prepared for such training, and they were able to do this in a convincing way.


Applicants who did not meet the criteria for interview

Academic Ability

Applicants tended to have lower scores in their undergraduate or qualifying examinations.  A few did not provide their academic mark when available – these were given a low academic mark.

Readiness for Training

Applicants had a more limited experience (in terms of both length and breadth) of working with children and young people.  Usually their positions involved lesser degrees of responsibility, were less relevant, and had less supervision.  They often failed to indicate what they had learned from their experiences.  As in previous years, younger applicants who had only recently graduated or would be graduating this year were generally found not to have sufficient experience.  No-one who was just completing an undergraduate degree was invited for interview, due to lack of relevant or sufficient experience (although it is possible for more mature students who have relevant experience before taking up, or returning to, study to be interviewed and to take up a place on the training programme).

Personal Statement and Self-Reflection

Applications displayed, to varying degrees, the following:

  • A lack of mature reflection;
  • Some repetition of relevant experience;
  • A lack of personal insight and criticality;
  • Overly descriptive account lacking reflection;
  • Additionally, they did not explicitly refer to psychological knowledge and understanding.