Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

107 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 136 of 17 June 1998, the reason the educational psychological service to primary schools has not been extended to Waterford; the proposals, if any, he has to make adequate provision in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15272/98]

My Department, in collaboration with Mary Immaculate College of Education, Limerick, has recently recruited 15 psychologists to work in the primary sector. Even after this increase in staffing, there remain a number of areas, including County Waterford, where it has not yet been possible for my Department to provide a psychological service for primary schools.

The 15 psychologists were appointed on merit after an open competition, during which all qualified candidates were interviewed. On this occasion, however, none of the successful candidates was available to work in the Waterford area.

However, it is the Government's intention to provide a national educational psychological service which will be available to all schools in the country, both primary and post-primary. A planning group which includes representatives of all the partners in education has been set up with the task of preparing detailed recommendations for the Government on the development of this service.

The planning group will make recommendations as to the developments which will be necessary to identify, prioritise and to meet the needs for psychological intervention in all schools. Its work is now well advanced and it is expected that it will report to me in the very near future.