Written Answers - Psychological Service.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 621 No. 120

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  390.  Mr. Kenny  Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin   the number of psychologists available to primary schools in the Dublin area; the waiting times for psychological assessments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22656/06]

Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  All primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA) that is administered by NEPS and full details of which are available on my Department’s website.

NEPS does not keep waiting lists for assessments of children but in common with other psychological services encourages a staged assessment process, whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention, in consul[1022]tation with their assigned NEPS psychologist. Only if there is a failure to make reasonable progress in spite of the school’s best efforts, will a child be referred for individual psychological assessment. This system allows the psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually.

Children who manifest very special or urgent needs in school and who have not been previously assessed by a psychologist and are brought to the attention of a NEPS psychologist by the Principal teacher will usually be assessed by the psychologist within that school term. Normally, principals of schools prioritise those children in need of psychological assessment in consultation with the assigned psychologist.

In the case of schools that do not currently have dedicated NEPS psychologists assigned to them, as I already mentioned, such schools have access to educational psychological assessments through the SCPA. Under this Scheme, schools can commission assessments from a member of the panel of private practitioners approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the fees directly to the psychologist concerned.

NEPS provides assistance to all schools and school communities that experience critical incidents, regardless of whether or not they have a NEPS psychologist assigned to them. NEPS also provides psychological services to schools in Dublin for children with visual impairment and for children with hearing impairment.

Since the establishment of the NEPS in 1999, the number of NEPS psychologists has increased from 43 to 122 at present. Thirty psychologists (30) are currently assigned to primary schools in Dublin. The Public Appointments Service has concluded a new recruitment competition for the appointment of Educational Psychologists to NEPS. Regional panels have been established to allow my Department give greater priority in filling vacancies to areas with the greatest need. Two newly appointed psychologists have been assigned to a Dublin region. My Department is currently in the process of recruiting a further 9 psychologists.

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