Budget 2017 needs to increase capacity for Educational Assessments – Nolan
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills, Teachta Carol Nolan, has called on the Government to target any additional resources in the National Educational Psychology Service in Budget 2017 towards the provision of additional educational assessments, which are vital for students with special educational needs in accessing resources. Teachta Nolan was speaking in the Dáil during questions to the Minister for Education and Skills.
The TD for Offaly said:
“The programme for Government has a clear commitment to increase the capacity of the National Educational Psychology Service by 25% over the lifetime of this Government.
“Despite the fact that the number of NEPS psychologists has increased by 10% from 2008, the overall number of educational assessments has declined in the same period.
“In fact, there is, on average, just two assessments or referrals per school per year carried out and I know from experience as a teacher that many schools organise fundraising activities so that children can be assessed privately.
“An educational assessment is often a vital tool in assisting a child access supports such as resource teaching hours and other forms of early intervention and the reality is that many children are waiting years for this critical step to be carried out.
“The implementation of the new resource allocation model for children with special educational needs will help address some of the issues but I am disappointed that the Minister is still not in a position to give an indicative timeframe given for the implementation of this model.
“Meanwhile, students have started a new term and the same problems persist in accessing assessments.
“I have asked the Minister to give a clear commitment that any additional resources for the NEPS service allocated in Budget 2017 will be targeted at increasing the capacity of the service to conduct assessments.
“Sinn Féin has made provision for an investment of €3.5 million in the service in our Alternative Budget 2017. That will provide for an additional 43 psychologists and the provision of administrative support as a vital first step to increase the capacity of the National Educational Psychology Service.”