Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (291)

Willie Penrose


291. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take to expedite an application for a psychological assessment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30633/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can inform the Deputy that all primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA), full details of which are on the Department's website. Where a NEPS psychologist is not assigned to a school, authorities therein may access psychological assessments through SCPA. Under this scheme schools can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly. It should also be noted that in common with many other psychological services, NEPS encourages a staged assessment process, whereby each school takes responsibility for a pupil's initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention. 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.

It is the responsibility of the school Principal in the first instance to identify and prioritise pupils for assessment under the process described above. I have made enquiries in relation to the student referred to in the Deputy's question and understand that no request has been made by the school to the NEPS psychologist assigned to the school. I do understand however that the child is the subject of a referral to the HSE clinical services following an earlier referral to a Speech and Language therapist. I would advise that the parents contact the School Principal in relation to their son's situation and can assure that the services of the NEPS Psychologist are available to him if appropriate.