Written Answers. - Psychological Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

904 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the schools at primary and secondary levels which have access to a psychological service. [1019/99]

My Department provides an educational psychological service to all second level schools in the country. The psychologists engage in consultative work and individual casework as the resources of time and personnel allow.

The psychological service to primary schools is still in the development phase. All the schools named on the list which I am forwarding to the Deputy have been assigned to my Department's psychologists.

Richard Bruton

Question:

905 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of psychological assessments at primary and secondary levels which have been carried out by members of the psychological service; and if he will give details of any other quantitative indicators of caseload. [1020/99]

The most recent casework statistics pro vided by my Department's psychological service relate to the school year 1997-98.

The details are set out in tabular form below for the Deputy's information.

Male

Female

Total

1

No. of students seen during 1997/98

1,457

897

2,354

2

No. of individual interviews (some students were seen on more than one occasion)

1,946

1,165

3,111

3

Full individual tests of intelligence administered

961

601

1,562

4

Assessments of attainments only (reading, spelling, maths. etc.)

236

112

348

5

Other types of assessment (eg group tests, classroom observation

53

34

87

6

Counselling interviews

297

201

498

7

Follow-up interviews to check on progress since initial interview

104

56

160

In addition to the interviews recorded above, the vast majority of contacts with students also involve meetings with their parents and teachers and, in many cases, liaison with other agencies.

Richard Bruton

Question:

906 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the quantitative methods, if any, for judging the level of need for psychological service nationally and in individual schools which seek a service in view of the fact his Department does not maintain any waiting list of pupils awaiting psychological assessments. [1021/99]

The level of need nationally for a psychological service was investigated by the planning group for the National Educational Psychological Service and is recorded in its report, which I launched during September of last year. The planning group drew upon the report of the Special Education Review Committee (1993) as well as epidemiological studies carried out in other jurisdictions and on the experience of the existing psychological service. As much available evidence as possible was analysed by a technical working group set up by the planning group. The final estimate made in the report was that 11.2 per cent of the school population might expect to be referred at some stage to the psychological service.

I am aware that few large scale epidemiological studies have been carried out in this country. An important task of the new National Educational Psychological Service will therefore be the collection of statistics in relation to casework and referral rates.

With regard to individual schools, the psychological service does not keep waiting lists in the sense of lists of named students who are seen in order. However, an important part of the psychologist's work is to assist principals and teachers to develop procedures for screening, identifying and prioritising those students who are most in need of help. In this way, the psychologist is able to estimate the numbers of students in each school who may need psychological intervention and consequently the amount of time that needs to be spent in each school. In many cases, the psychologist discusses individual students in the light of the school's assessment results with teachers and parents and advises on appropriate remedial strategies. This means that some students can benefit from the psychologist's advice without the need for an individual psychological assessment.