Dáil Éireann - Volume 549 - 27 February, 2002
Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
286. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the numbers expected to be trained in the next five years in physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, language therapy and clinical and educational psychology; the numbers expected to be in training in five years time; the numbers projected to require these specialist services at schools at that point; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6916/02]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The Department of Health and Children commissioned a report from Dr. Peter Bacon and Associates on current and future supply and demand conditions in the labour market for  physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists. The report was launched in July 2001 and it concluded that a major expansion in the numbers of therapy professionals was essential over the next 15 years. In relation to training places, the report recommends an annual increase of 75 training places for both speech and language therapy and occupational therapy and an additional 25 training places in physiotherapy. These additional places would result in an annual intake of some 145 students to physiotherapy, 110 to occupational therapy and 100 to speech and language therapy.
An inter-agency working group has been established comprising representatives of my Department, the Department of Health and Children and the Higher Education Authority. The Higher Education Authority invited institutions to submit proposals for the expansion of existing courses and-or the introduction of new courses, including graduate entry programmes. The proposals received are currently being considered.
In relation to clinical psychology, I understand a joint review group on psychology services has identified a shortage of professionally qualified clinical psychologists. This review group comprised representatives of the Health Services Employers Agency, health service employers, the Department of Health and Children and IMPACT. I further understand that the Department of Health and Children has made arrangements with the Psychological Society of Ireland to provide 30 additional postgraduate training places in 2001-02. The Higher Education Authority has recently received a request for capital funding from NUI Galway for the development of a postgraduate course in clinical psychology. The authority is currently considering this request in consultation with the Department of Health and Children.
Responsibility for the provision of these therapy services, including clinical psychology services rests with the various health authorities and my Department does not have details of the numbers projected to require these services in schools over the next five years.
The National Educational Psychological Service is undertaking a joint survey with the principal psychologists in Northern Ireland of supply and demand for educational psychologists in the island of Ireland. I am awaiting completion of that survey along with its report and recommendations. In the interim my Department and the Higher Education Authority have agreed to a proposal to increase the annual output from the MA in Educational Psychology at University College Dublin, NUI Dublin, from six to ten. The Psychological Society of Ireland also awards a postgraduate Diploma in Educational Psychology.
Dáil Éireann 549 Written Answers. Special Educational Needs.