Dáil Éireann - Volume 623 - 05 July, 2006
Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.
Mr. Crowe Mr. Crowe
Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science the average time a child has to wait to be assessed to know if they will require special needs education; and if she has satisfied herself with this time period. [26791/06]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin:All primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA) that is administered by NEPS and full details of which are available on my Department’s website.
NEPS does not keep waiting lists for assessments of children but in common with other psychological services 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 or urgent 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 usually be assessed by the psychologist within that school term. Normally, principals of schools prioritise those children in need of psychological assessment in consultation with the assigned psychologist.
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.
Since the establishment of the NEPS in 1999, the number of NEPS psychologists has increased from 43 to 122 at present. The Public Appointments Service has 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.
Dáil Éireann 623 Written Answers. Special Educational Needs.