Dáil Éireann - Volume 623 - 04 July, 2006
Written Answers. - Psychological Service.
Mr. J. O’Keeffe Mr. J. O’Keeffe
Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science if additional psychologists will be employed by the National Educational Psychological Service during the remainder of 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25732/06]
Ms O’Sullivan Ms O’Sullivan
Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the action she intends to take to make up the shortfall in educational psychologists employed in the National Educational Psychological Service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25903/06]
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if and when she expects the required psychological services to become available at various schools throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26453/06]
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science when she expects to bring the educational psychology services up to requirement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26462/06]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin:I propose to take Questions Nos. 37, 132, 763 and 772 together.
Since the establishment of my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) in 1999, the number of psychologists in the NEPS has increased from 43 to 122 at present. A number of these posts are filled on a work-sharing basis.
The Public Appointments Service recently concluded a new recruitment competition for the appointment of Educational Psychologists to NEPS. Regional panels have been established to allow my Department give greater priority in filling vacancies to areas with the greatest need. It is expected that a further 9 psychologists will be in place before the end of 2006.
All primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through the NEPS or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA), full details of which are available on my Department’s website. Schools that do not currently have NEPS psychologists assigned to them may avail of the SCPA, whereby the school can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly. Details of this process and the conditions that apply to the scheme are available on my Department’s Website. The prioritisation of urgent cases for assessment is a matter for the school principal in the first instance.
In common with many other psychological services, NEPS encourages a staged assessment process, whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention, in consultation with their assigned NEPS psychologist. Only if there is a failure to make reasonable progress in spite of the school’s best efforts, will a child be referred for individual psychological assessment. This system allows the psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually. It also ensures that children are not referred unnecessarily for psychological intervention. The General Allocation of resources to primary schools ensures that many children can receive additional teaching without the requirement of psychological assessment.
 Children who manifest very special needs in school and who have not been previously assessed by a psychologist and are brought to the attention of a NEPS psychologist by the Principal teacher will normally be assessed by the psychologist within that school term. Where schools consider that they have additional problems, they should contact the NEPS psychologist directly or make contact with the NEPS Regional Director for their region. Contact details are available on my Department’s website.
NEPS provides assistance to all schools and school communities that experience critical incidents, regardless of whether or not they have a NEPS psychologist assigned to them. Also, in relation to all schools, NEPS processes applications for Reasonable Accommodation in Certificate Examinations and responds to queries in relation to individual children from other sections of my Department and from the specialist agencies.
Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 35.
Dáil Éireann 623 Written Answers. Psychological Service.