As the Deputy may be aware my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service 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).
By way of context, Individual pupil casework involves engagement by the psychologist in relation to concerns raised in relation to particular named pupils by school authorities in respect of that pupil’s well-being, or educational, social or emotional development. This engagement is organised through a formal process and involves the submission of a Request for Involvement form by the school (consented to and informed by the parent/ guardian) setting out the nature of the concerns raised, his / her developmental history, previous clinical / professional oversight and school interventions to date, etc.
Detail of the NEPS psychologist involvement in a pupil referral is maintained on an individual Client file and on the NEPS Casetrack database which records shorthand detail of the engagement. The nature of the engagement commonly involves direct contact with the pupil concerned (in, for example, the application of psychometric tests, interview of subject and observation of him/her) but may, as appropriate to the facts known / information available on the pupil, require no direct contact with the child involved. In the latter situation the NEPS psychologist may engage with school staff, parents and other professionals before advising the school and parents of the child’s situation and recommending intervention(s) to ameliorate the concern raised.
In response to the Deputy’s question in the matter I can inform her that Casetrack records indicate that in 2016/17 some 74% (6,127 referrals) of the referrals conducted by NEPS psychologists involved direct contact with/assessment of the pupil concerned.