Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

1040 Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the need to expand the psychological service to include Shinrone National School, Birr, County Offaly, in view of a recent assessment of students showing the need for such a service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19968/00]

I am aware of the need to expand the National Educational Psychological Service to the school in question and to all schools in the coun try. In June of this year, the acting director of NEPS sent a letter to the principals of all schools in the country, primary and post-primary, informing them about the proposed expansion of the service. The expansion will involve an additional 50 psychologists before the end of 2000 and 20 of these have already taken up duty. The letter explains how the service will be organised and I refer to sections of this letter:

"The Service will be organised on a regional basis: NEPS psychologists will be allocated to 10 regions corresponding to the Health Board regions".

"Within each region, priorities for expansion will be informed by the results of a survey of each county which NEPS psychologists have undertaken. In examining the data, particular consideration will be given to evidence of disadvantage, the incidence of special needs and the level of access to other psychological services in each area." (Letters and submissions on behalf of particular schools and areas that have been sent to NEPS have been taken into account in this exercise).

"Schools that at present do not have a psychological service from NEPS will be notified that they are receiving one as soon as this is decided."

The needs of Shinrone National School are being taken into consideration in the context of prioritisation of expansion of services in the region.

Pending the expansion of NEPS in primary schools, all referrals for psychological assessments should be sent to the relevant health board.