Tuesday, 23 March 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
675. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans, if any, he has for the provision of an adequate deployment of educational psychologists at primary and secondary levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8436/99]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): I am well aware of the need for students, parents and teachers in all areas of the country to have ready access to the support of educational psychologists. The expansion of provision is one  of my priorities as Minister. On Thursday, 11 February, I announced Government approval for the establishment this year of a national educational psychological service. Financial provision has now been made for the first two years of a five-year implementation phase.
The estimated level of need nationally for a psychological service was investigated by the planning group for the national educational psychological service and is recorded in its report, which I launched during September of last year. The planning group drew upon the report of the Special Education Review Committee, 1993, as well as on epidemiological studies carried out in other jurisdictions and on the experience of the existing psychological service. As much available evidence as possible was analysed by a technical working group set out by the planning group. The final estimate made in the report was that 11.2 per cent of the school population might expect  to be referred at some stage to the psychological service.
During the past year, the provision of psychological services by my Department has been enhanced by the recruitment of additional 15 additional psychologists to work in primary schools. My Department will shortly be recruiting 25 additional psychologists, who should take up their appointments during the school year 1999-2000. It will not be possible to make the service immediately available to all schools. A detailed analysis is currently being made in my Department of the needs and resources available in each in order to set priorities for the expansion of the national educational psychological service. Information about schools in all parts of the country, including those counties mentioned by the Deputy, will be taken into account in setting the priorities. It is envisaged that, at the end of the five-year period, every school in the country will have access to an educational psychological service.
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