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Psychological Service.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 June 2005

Tuesday, 14 June 2005

Questions (58, 59)

Richard Bruton


75 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children currently awaiting a NEPS assessment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19688/05]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

The National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS, does not normally keep waiting lists of children requiring assessment in the sense of lists of names that are dealt with in chronological order. NEPS operates a staged assessment process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention, in consultation with its assigned NEPS psychologist. Only if there is a failure to make reasonable progress in spite of the school's best efforts will a child be referred for individual psychological assessment. This system allows the psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually.

As the end of the 2004-05 school year approaches, NEPS management is conducting a survey to ascertain how many children have been through the staged assessment process in school but who still need an individual psychological assessment. As soon as the information has been collated, it will be made available to the Deputy. Every effort will be made to ensure that urgent assessment needs will be met as soon as possible.

Eamon Gilmore


76 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science if more than 1,000 primary schools have no educational psychologist and 20% of secondary schools are without one; the steps which are being taken to deal with this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19660/05]

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While it is true that more than 1,000 primary schools and 13% of post-primary schools do not have NEPS psychologists assigned to them, it is important to note that all schools have access to psychological assessments, either directly through the National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS, for those schools currently served by NEPS, or through the scheme for commissioning psychological assessments, SCPA, for those that do not currently have NEPS psychologists assigned to them.

All schools that do not have NEPS psychologists assigned to them may avail of this scheme whereby they can commission assessments from a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the fees directly to the psychologists concerned. Details of this scheme, including the conditions that apply to it, are available on my Department's website.

The complement of psychologists in NEPS has increased almost three-fold from 43 psychologists on establishment to 128 psychologists at present.

NEPS also provides assistance to all schools that suffer from critical incidents, regardless of whether they have a NEPS psychologist assigned to them. Also, in relation to all schools, NEPS processes applications for reasonable accommodations in certificate examinations.

On behalf of my Department, the Public Appointments Service has recently initiated a new recruitment competition for NEPS. Any increase in the overall numbers of psychologists in NEPS must take account of Government policy on public sector numbers.

Question No. 77 answered with QuestionNo. 71.