Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Tuesday, 14 October 2003

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 572 No. 3

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  294.  Ms O'Sullivan  Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey   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): Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel 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  Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey   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): Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel 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 [729] 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
Schools Pupils Schools Pupils
Eastern region
(east coast area)
224 67,996 89% 94%
Eastern region (northern area) 227 80,888 76% 86%
Eastern region (south western area) 201 72,040 59% 69%
Midlands 161 37,431 54% 76%
Mid-west 121 32,477 29% 45%
North east 211 55,167 55% 76%
North west 146 48,702 43% 71%
South 434 88,182 69% 73%
South east 279 71,450 58% 78%
West 454 68,894 75% 87%

  296.  Ms O'Sullivan  Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey   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): Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel 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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