Tuesday, 14 October 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
294. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if an embargo has been placed on the hiring of psychologists by his Department for 2003; his plans with regard to the hiring of psychologists for 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23158/03]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): When the national educational psychological service, NEPS, was established in September 1999, there were 46 psychologists serving. Since that time, the numbers have increased almost three-fold, with 127 psychologists now serving, including seven new entrants who took up duty since the beginning of this year. In addition, there are approximately 16 other educational psychologists in the wider educational sector, including Dublin city and county vocational education committees and residential institutions for young offenders, bringing the total number of psychologists in the system to 143.
In light of the Government decision on Civil Service numbers, my Department does not propose to recruit any more psychologists before the end of the year. Government policy on public sector numbers, along with budgetary provisions in 2004 and subsequent years, will determine the rate of further recruitment of psychologists to NEPS.
295. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the specific areas of the country which do not have the services of NEPS psychologists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23159/03]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): The latest figures available indicate that NEPS provides a service to 1,790 out of 3,200 primary schools and 670 out of 751 post-primary schools. These figures were compiled in April 2003. While five additional psychologists have  joined NEPS since that date, they are still on induction so the figures remain approximately the same. The following table shows the coverage of schools by region and the numbers of students with access to the service. NEPS has informed me that there is full coverage of all mainstream schools in County Kerry and in the Connemara Gaeltacht and practically full coverage in the east coast area. However, difficulty has been encountered in recruiting psychologists to a number of regions, notably the midlands, north west and mid-west.
|Region||Covered byNEPS||% Covered by NEPS|
(east coast area)
|Eastern region (northern area)||227||80,888||76%||86%|
|Eastern region (south western area)||201||72,040||59%||69%|
296. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the arrangement in place for schools which do not have access to the NEPS in cases in which a child or children are identified as in need of an educational psychological assessment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23160/03]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Pending the full roll-out of NEPS to all schools, my Department has allocated funding to enable NEPS to administer the scheme for commissioning psychological assessments, SCPA. This enables schools that do not yet have access to the NEPS service to have children psychologically assessed in urgent cases. Details of the scheme have been circulated to all schools and are also available on my Department's website.
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