Ministers agree extension of current scheme which provides free doctorates for those who agree to work for councils.
The government has extended its scheme to train 200 educational psychologists per year after committing £21 million in funding to boost numbers.
The scheme, currently run by 12 universities and an NHS trust, offers a free postgraduate doctorate degree in exchange for at least two years working for a local authority or alternative setting after graduation.
The Department for Education said it was launching a “market engagement” exercise for the new contract, which would run from September 2023 and be worth up to £32.2 million for three cohorts.
£21 million in funding for the first two cohorts was confirmed this week. A further £11.2 million in funding for the third cohort is depending on the next spending review.
The budget “would be expected to fund the full three-year tuition fees for trainee educational psychologists, as well as a first-year bursary payment for trainees, and associated course administration costs”.
Ministers have been funding training for educational psychologists for several years, amid fears about the numbers available to work with schools. They play a key role in allocating education, health and care plans to pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.
But Schools Week revealed in 2017 that the number of educational psychologists working for councils dropped from 1,900 in 2010, to 1,650 in 2015.
Government research in 2019 found more than 90 per cent of local authority principal educational psychologists experienced more demand for their services than they are currently able to meet. Two thirds of councils reported as struggling to fill vacant positions.