Redress sought for 68 Mayo schools without access to NEPS psychologist

MAYO Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has written to the Education Minister, Richard Bruton, regarding the 68 schools in County Mayo that do not have access to a National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) psychologist.

She stated: “'On January 17, in response to a parliamentary question tabled by my Sinn Féin colleague Carol Nolan TD, the Education Minister confirmed that 68 schools across Mayo do not currently have access to a NEPS psychologist.

“Mayo has the highest number of schools without access to NEPS outside Dublin and over five times more schools affected than Sligo who have 12 schools without access.

'On Saturday, January 21, the Irish Examiner carried a report which states that one in six primary schools across the State have no access to a NEPS psychologist.

'This is totally unacceptable. Often an assessment by the NEPS psychologist is the first stage to a child accessing a range of other services, interventions and supports, without which they may not be able to achieve their educational potential.

'The educational assessment is the gateway through which children must pass to access further educational and social supports so any delay in this assessment is intolerable for these kids and their families and causes much unnecessary stress and worry. In addition any delay in assessments may have an impact on the child's teacher and the other children in the class.

'Furthermore NEPS psychologists play a crucial role within schools in the event of a critical incident, for example a tragic death or other traumatic event.

“In an occurrence like this the NEPS psychologist guides and advises school staff, who know the children well, to support and assist children and identify children who may require additional support. I will not stand for children and schools in my constituency not having access to this vital service

'I have asked further questions of the Education Minister on this issue. We need to know the locations of the 68 schools in Mayo which are without access to a NEPS psychologist.

'In addition the minister has stated that any school which doesn't have access to a NEPS psychologist can access educational assessments through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA) and the cost will be reimbursed by NEPS.

'I have requested information regarding the costs in Co Mayo of accessing this scheme over the past five years and crucially I want to know what the waiting time is for children who need assessments whose schools do not have access to a NEPS psychologist.”