Dáil Éireann - Volume 649 - 04 March, 2008
Written Answers. - Psychological Service.
Deputy Denis Naughten Deputy Denis Naughten
Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children awaiting an educational psychological assessment at both primary and second level here; the average waiting time for assessment at both primary and second level; the number of assessments carried out annually at primary and second level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8897/08]
Deputy Mary Hanafin Deputy Mary Hanafin
Deputy Mary Hanafin: As the Deputy will be aware all primary and post-primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA). 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.
NEPS does not keep waiting lists for assessments of children but, in common with many other psychological services and best international practice, 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.
I can inform the Deputy that during 2006/07 my Department, through NEPS, funded some 4,416 psychological assessments under the SCPA, 3,645 of which related to pupils in primary schools and 771 in post-primary. In this period NEPS psychologists undertook casework in respect of some 8,183 named pupils, including cases under the Reasonable Accommodation for Certificate Examinations (RACE) scheme on behalf of the State Examinations Commission. Of this total 4,301 cases related to primary pupils and 3,882 to post-primary pupils. In addition it is estimated that NEPS psychologists gave consultations, advice and assistance to teachers and school authorities in respect of an additional 5,000 un-named pupils, although this figure is not disaggregated by level of school.
 Since May 2007 the number of psychologists employed within the NEPS service has increased from 128 to 138 and during 2008 this complement will increase to 169. In this regard, following a national recruitment process put in place in late 2007 by the Public Appointments Service, interviews in this regard have recently been completed and regional panels are currently being formed from which recruits will be drawn for appointment to priority regions. As I have previously stated, and in line with Government commitments under the T2016 Agreement, it is further my intention to increase NEPS psychologist personnel to 200 during 2009.
Dáil Éireann 649 Written Answers. Psychological Service.