Written answers

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Department of Education and Skills

National Educational Psychological Service

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party)
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197. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to increase the capacity of the NEPS; and if there were additional allocations in budget 2021 to progress same. [30812/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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NEPS’ sanctioned psychologist numbers have grown from a base of 173 whole-time equivalents (w.t.e.) in 2016, through the intervening Budget increases in 2017-2019 to 204 w.t.e. psychologist posts. This Government remains firmly committed to the maintenance of a robust and effective educational psychological service. In this connection, as part of a package of measures to support the reopening of our schools the provision of an additional seventeen psychologist posts to NEPS was announced bringing overall sanctioned numbers to 221 w.t.e. psychologist posts.

Currently NEPS has 201 w.t.e. psychologists in place with 3 existing vacancies and 17 new posts to be filled from the new regional panels formed following completion of a recent recruitment competition by the Public Appointments Service in August 2020. This recruitment is currently in train.

Separate financing has been secured to support two particular projects in schools in relation to the provision of augmented services to schools, including educational psychology services. At present seven psychologist posts have been deployed to reduce pupil to psychologist ratio and enhance the level of service to schools in the SIM pilot project and the North East Inner City (NEIC) City-Connects Project. The enhanced NEPS service in these projects allows for increased capacity building at school level and substantially increased access to in-depth and sustained engagement in individual casework. Together these preventative and individualised measures aim to ensure access to timely and appropriate support for those students who may be most vulnerable to being placed on reduced timetables in the absence of that support.

Finally, Budget 2021, has sanctioned an increase of NEPS psychologists by 30, to support the expansion of the School Inclusion Model to support children and young people with special educational needs. This will bring the overall permanent sanctioned numbers in NEPS to 251 in 2021.

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