I can inform the Deputy that my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides educational psychological support to all primary and post-primary schools nationally. This involves direct support in the event of a critical incident, access to national and regional support and development work to build school capacity to support students, access to a NEPS psychologist for responses to queries arising, and access to individual pupil casework via a NEPS psychologist or through the Scheme for the Commissioning of Psychological Assessments. (SCPA).
NEPS is organised in eight Regions with and including some 23 offices nationally providing service to the schools in their respective catchment areas. All mainstream schools in Co. Kildare receive a service from NEPS psychologists based in the Naas Office.
NEPS recruits its psychologists from Regional panels of suitably qualified personnel put in place by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) following a national recruitment competition. These panels were replenished following such a competition in early September 2018.
There were four vacant psychologist posts in the Naas Office were offered to the panelists available through this recruitment process but unfortunately only two candidates were forthcoming for that location.
The panels created in September are now depleted and, following discussions with PAS, a new national competition will be announced very shortly from which new panels will be formed. It is envisaged that existing vacancies, including those remaining in the Naas Office, will be filled and personnel in place in this regard by the beginning of the coming academic year.
In the interim schools affected in relation to these vacancies will continue to have service provided as heretofore this year as described above, with pupil assessment needs being provided by private practitioners through the SCPA scheme, including the school mentioned in the Deputy’s question.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.