Psychological services for schools
The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides psychological services in public and private primary and post-primary schools and in related educational centres. NEPS is a service of the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and aims to support the personal, social and educational development of all children through the application of psychological theory and practice in education. It has particular regard for children with special educational needs.
You can read further information about how NEPS services are operated in the booklet Working Together to Make a Difference to Children (pdf) on the DES website.
The psychologists employed by NEPS are located in 8 regions throughout the country. They work directly with a number of schools and their work includes:
- Engaging in individual casework with children and young people
- Providing a consultation service for teachers and parents
- Participating in school-based projects relevant to educational psychology
- Promoting mental health in schools
Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments
Schools which do not have a service from NEPS can use the Scheme for
Commissioning Psychological Assessment (SCPA). This is an interim measure
funding schools to meet the urgent needs for psychological advice while the
NEPS service is being expanded to all schools. Only psychologists listed in the
Panel 2014-2015 (pdf) are eligible to carry out work under the SCPA scheme.
Further information on the Scheme
for Commissioning Psychological Assessment (SCPA) is available.
How should children be selected for individual psychological assessment?
In general, teachers will have noticed those children who have difficulty in coping with the normal curriculum. Parents should be made aware of any difficulties being experienced by their child in school, long before there is any question of a psychological assessment. If required, parents should be encouraged to make arrangements for a check up on the child's general health, hearing and sight.
Before commissioning an individual psychological assessment for a child, school staff should explore the avenue of supplementary teaching.
If the school decides that an assessment is required for a particular child, the principal or a nominated teacher should arrange a personal interview with parents and/or legal guardians.
The reasons for the assessment should be discussed and each section of the consent form for psychological assessment - form 1 (pdf) explained before parents are asked to sign the form.
Psychologists who carry out assessments under this scheme are required to meet the parents. They will explain their findings to the parents and will give them a copy of the psychological report.
You can get a NEPS information leaflet for parents (pdf).
The protection of children's interests
Although this scheme is in place so that children with special learning needs may take advantage of the necessary resources, many children will grow nervous at the thought of meeting a psychologist. It should also be kept in mind that if a child is aware that they have difficulties at school, the prospect of a meeting with a psychologist may confirm to them a perceived weakness. For this reason, a school should only commission an individual assessment if, having spoken with the child's parents, it is absolutely convinced that the result will benefit the child.
NEPS provides advice on whether you should tell your child that his/her learning needs will be assessed by a psychologist.
For the protection of the child's confidentiality, he or she is referred to by his or her initials only in all documentation submitted by school authorities to NEPS.
All psychologists on the NEPS panel must have obtained Garda clearance. It is also recommended that a member of the school staff look in on the assessment interview once or twice.
In general, an assessment should be carried out in the child's school, where the surroundings are familiar. A separate room in the main building and near the school office is an ideal venue.
The following may commission psychological assessments under the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessment (SCPA):
- Schools that do not have access to the service provided by NEPS.
- NEPS Regional Directors who have some additional, but limited, discretion to meet exceptional circumstances arising in their regions.
Payment by NEPS is made directly to the psychologist. NEPS does not reimburse schools or parents for assessments.
NEPS cannot reimburse you if you are a parent who has commissioned a private psychological assessment. In this case, you may gain tax relief for such payments using Form MED 1 (pdf)
How to apply
Children are normally referred to NEPS through the school principal. Parents
should discuss any concerns regarding learning difficulties with school
personnel in the first instance. Questions about the NEPS service and
assessments should be made directly to school personnel.
In general, you apply for NEPS services through the school principal of your child's school. You can find contact information for the NEPS offices in 'Where to apply' below.
Where to apply