Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Liam Aylward

Question:

640 Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason the services of an education psychologist are not available to the pupils of a special school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; when steps will be taken by his Department to provide such a service; and the additional services and resources which should be available for pupils with special needs in this school. [7805/01]

The national educational psychological service – NEPS – has recently enhanced considerably the psychological service in the south-eastern region. A newly appointed NEPS psychologist has been assigned to work exclusively in County Kilkenny. Initially, he is providing an enhanced service to all 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. It is envisaged that all schools in the region will have access to the NEPS service by the end of the school year 2003-04 and that there will then be six psychologists serving counties Carlow and Kilkenny.

With regard to special schools, priority is being given by NEPS to special schools and units that have no access to other psychological services. I understand that psychological support for the school named by the Deputy has traditionally been provided by the South Eastern Health Board. For this reason, NEPS has not yet offered a service to the school. However, the needs of the school will be kept under review and will be borne in mind when further expansion in the county is possible. The management committee of NEPS has established a NEPS-health boards joint liaison committee to ensure that there will be a coherent approach to special schools and units.