Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (438)

Pauline Tully

Question:

438. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Education the number of children in each county who are awaiting an appointment with a National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS, psychologist; the number who are waiting less than six months, six to 12 months and more than 12 months, respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8569/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is the psychological service of my Department. It is a school-based service with an overall objective of providing an educational psychology service to all schools, through the application of psychological theory and practice, to support the wellbeing, and academic, social and emotional development of all learners. NEPS prioritises support for learners at risk of educational disadvantage and those with special educational needs.

In common with many other psychological services and best international practice, NEPS has adopted a consultative model of service. This model does not operate on a waiting lists basis. The NEPS Model of Service is one where there is a balance between consultation and casework about individual children, and support and development work with school personnel. This model is based on what the research shows is effective in the application of psychology and facilitates a number of ways for psychologists to engage with schools. The needs of children and young people are met most effectively where parents, teachers and psychologist work collaboratively, consulting with each other with regard to the issue or concern. Other agencies and other staff in the school may also be involved. This could for example include a special education teacher, SNA or personnel from the NCSE. The focus is on empowering teachers to intervene effectively with pupils whose needs range from mild to severe and transient to enduring.

NEPS encourages and supports schools to use a continuum based assessment and intervention process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and intervention for pupils with learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties. Teachers may consult their NEPS psychologist should they need to at this stage in the process. Only in the event of a failure to make reasonable progress, in spite of the school's best efforts in consultation with NEPS, will the psychologist become involved with an individual child for intensive intervention or assessment.

This system allows psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually. It also ensures that children are not referred unnecessarily for psychological intervention.