Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

1053 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans, if any, he has to have educational psychological assessments carried out on children needing such assessment in the Waterford constituency in order that resource teachers for special needs children can be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20196/00]

I refer the Deputy to the letter sent by the acting director of the National Educational Psychological Service in June of this year, to the principals of all primary and post-primary schools. The letter outlines the planned expansion of the service which will involve an additional 50 psychologists before the end of 2000 and 20 of these have already taken up duty.

As the letter indicates, the service will be organised on a regional basis: NEPS psychologists will be allocated to ten 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. 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.

It is intended to deploy one of the recently appointed psychologists to the Waterford area as soon as the psychologist has completed induction and another more established psychologist will also be redeployed to Waterford.

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