Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Liam Aylward

Question:

637 Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the services of an educational psychologist are not available to the primary school sector in the south east region, Kilkenny and Waterford; if he will have investigations made into this urgent appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7802/01]

Until the end of the year 2000, two of the educational psychologists employed by my Department in the national educational psychological service – NEPS – provided a psychological service to all post-primary schools in the city and county of Waterford. Neither of these psychologists was based in Waterford and both had responsibilities in other counties. Similarly, a Dublin-based psychologist, who had responsibilities in other areas, served post-primary schools in County Kilkenny.

Following the decision of the Government that NEPS should develop a psychological service that would eventually be available to all schools, my Department embarked on a programme of recruitment. Some 30 additional psychologists have been appointed since last September. This has allowed NEPS to enhance considerably the psychological service in the south-eastern region.

Two NEPS psychologists have now been assigned to work exclusively in County Waterford. They have already begun work in the post-primary schools, and are now initiating a service to primary schools. It is envisaged that they will be able to provide a psychological service initially to all post-primary students in the city and county, to all primary school pupils in the city of Waterford and to a number of primary schools in the county. Office accommodation is currently being refurbished and is almost ready, so that there will soon be a NEPS office in the city.

A newly appointed psychologist has been assigned to work exclusively in County Kilkenny. Initially, he is providing an enhanced service to post-primary schools in the county. Recruitment to NEPS is ongoing, and, as soon as another psychologist is appointed to the county, expansion of the psychological service to primary schools will begin.