When will the Government meet the targets for NEPs? - Crowe
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has called on Minister for Education Mary Hanafin to clarify when the Government intends to meet the target, set in 1999, of 200 full-time psychologists for the the National Educational Psychological Service. He was speaking after the announcement that 31 new psychologists are to be hired, which though welcome, still leaves the service seriously under-resourced.
The Dublin South-West TD said: “The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) has a vital role in assessing students to discover learning and educational difficulties, hence allowing for vital early intervention. But the service has been grievously under-resourced since it was established.
When it was set up in 1999 the objective was to have 200 full-time psychologists working in primary schools. When these new posts have been filled it will have just over 150, still falling almost 25% short of that target eight years after it was created. While the increase in staff is welcome, it is simply not enough to ensure pupils receive speedy assessments and subsequent supports.
“Due to a lack of resources, symptomatic of the Government’s failure to invest in children with special needs, the service cannot cope with the demands being placed on it and over a thousand primary schools, particularly in rural areas, are without any educational psychologist.
“The progressive elements of recent legislation on education for persons with disabilities are being undermined by the Government’s preference to cut taxes for the well-off in Irish society instead of investing it in badly needed services.”