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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 30 Jun 1999

Vol. 507 No. 3

Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Jackie Healy-Rae


190 Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Science when a psychologist will be appointed in south Kerry to deal with the large number of pupils awaiting assessment in order to comply with his Department's requirements for a special needs teacher. [16879/99]

My Department provides a psychological service to all second level schools in south Kerry. However, the psychological service provided to primary schools is still in the development phase.

I am aware of the importance for schoolchildren, especially those with special educational needs, to have ready access to a psychological service and the provision of this has been one of my priorities during my time in office. On 11 February last, I announced the decision by the Government to establish a national educational psychological service agency. This agency will be formally established as and from the 1 September 1999, and will begin to provide a service on that date. The process of recruiting additional psychologists for the agency has already begun. An advertisement for additional staff has been placed and interviews for the new posts will be held shortly. It is envisaged that all schools, both in County Kerry and nationally, will have access to the psychological service at the end of a five-year period and most will have access before that time.

The development of the national educational psychological service will be overseen by a national policy advisory board and by a management committee. The management committee consists of representatives of my Department and of the Department of Health and Children and will be holding its first meeting in late July or early August. One of the first issues to be addressed by the management committee will be the urgent need for some children to have psychological assessments carried out during the five year development phase of the new agency. The two Departments concerned will make every effort to arrive early in the new school year at a satisfactory resolution of the problem outlined by the Deputy.