Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Ceisteanna (362, 602)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

362. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to increase NEPS by 25%. [31662/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

602. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of employing an additional 20 educational psychologists. [33884/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 362 and 602 together.

As the Deputy may be aware my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides educational psychological support to all primary and post-primary schools. 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).

Following on from an increase allowed in the 2018 Budget that the sanctioned number for NEPS psychologist stands at 194 whole-time equivalents of which some 187 w.t.e. posts are currently filled with 7 posts vacant due to on-going retirements and resignations, etc. within the Service.  Even at this current level this represents the highest number of psychologists to be employed within NEPS since the inception of the service in 2000.

Additionally the Deputy may be aware that under the provisions of Budget 2019 I was pleased to announce that NEPS psychologist numbers will expand by a further 10 posts from the start of the new academic year bringing the overall approved psychologist numbers to 204 w.t.e .

I can inform the Deputy that a national recruitment competition is currently in operation by the Public Appointments Service in conjunction with my Department to replenish NEPS Regional Recruitment Panels to allow for both the filling of the above mentioned vacancies and the expansion of NEPS number by a further 10 posts from September.

In answer to the Deputies specific question I can inform her that NEPS 2019 budget stands at €20.756m and therefore a straight 25% increase would amount to an additional €5.2m.  An increase of 25% on the existing NEPS psychologist staff complement would add approximately 50 posts. The average direct pay and non-pay cost per annum of engaging an individual Educational Psychologist is €75,000 per annum. The estimated annual additional cost, therefore, of employing the following numbers would be €3.75m.

In relation to the Deputy's  further question on the matter the cost of an additional 20 NEPS psychologist staff would be €1.5m per annum.