Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Richard Bruton

Question:

30 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science when he expects the full roll-out of NEPS to all schools to be completed. [21726/02]

The rate of roll-out of the psychological service to all schools is directly related to the number of psychologists available to provide the service.

The planning group that prepared proposals for the National Educational Psychological Service Agency, NEPS, recommended an overall target number of 200 psychologists, of whom about 180 would be in NEPS and the remainder elsewhere in the educational system. The planning group also recommended that this target should be achieved over a period of five years, beginning during the school year 1999-00. The Government made a decision in early 1999 that these recommendations should be implemented.

The new NEPS agency came into existence on 1 September 1999 with the 43 psychologists already employed in my Department. The recruitment of additional psychologists involved the organisation of competitions through the Civil Service and Local Appointments Commission. Notwithstanding the time consuming nature of such competitions, there are now 119 psychologists in NEPS, in addition to a number of psychologists deployed elsewhere in the educational system, bringing the overall total up to almost 130.
The Civil Service and Local Government Commissioner have established a panel of 69 psychologists who were successful in the most recent competition. A total of 37 of these psychologists have entered the service since September 2002. My Department is currently making offers of employment to a further 13 psychologists, who are expected to take up their posts later this year or during 2003. A total of 16 psychologists, who remain on the panel, should also be made offers of employment during 2003. When these have all been appointed, there will still be a shortfall of approximately 30 psychologists, and it will be necessary for the Civil Service Commission to organise a further recruitment competition for NEPS. I envisage that the end of 2004, as originally scheduled, will see a full roll-out of NEPS.