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National Educational Psychological Service must be properly resourced - Doherty

9 April, 2008


Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has said the National Educational Psychological Service must be properly resourced to ensure that all children can have speedy access to special needs assessments. Speaking today ahead of a Private Members' debate on the issue Senator Doherty said the Government must act now to stop more and more of our children being left behind.

He said, "Investment into this state's educational system is at an all-time low with appalling neglect shown to both students and teachers and noticeably special needs education has also suffered as a result of this blatant underinvestment.

"The department of education must ensure that every child, regardless of where he or she goes to school, has a quick access to an educational psychologist on the basis of need. This is not happening.

"It is extremely unfair that the children of parents who cannot afford to obtain private assessments suffer. Getting a child assessed is not easy, particularly as the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is still not running at full capacity.

"Schoolchildren deserve nothing less than speedy access to assessments and this will only come when NEPS is adequately resourced. Eight years after its inception NEPS still does not have its promised 200 psychologists. It will have to wait until 2009 to receive the full compliment.

"It is imperative that the government increase resources for NEPS, employ more psychologists immediately and expand the service to all schools to ensure that any child throughout the state who requires an assessment gets one as soon as possible. Our children deserve nothing less.

"The government must cherish all the children of the nation equally, get its act together and act NOW to stop more and more of our children being left behind." ENDS

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