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What is NEPS?

fishThe National Educational Psychological Service or NEPS is funded by the Department of Education and Science and is a service designed to provide psychologists specialising in working with both primary and post-primary children. Primarily they work within the school community with teachers, parents and children in order to identify specific educational needs, i.e. they can look at an individual childs's learning, behavioural and emotional development and lay out a plan for supporting the child within the school environment. There are NEPS offices dotted around the country and your school may have one assigned to it. If not, your school principal can still make a request through the the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessment (SCPA); again this is a free service once the referral comes from the School Principal. So, the advice is once you have decided that you need to take action, talk to your child's teacher and the Principal as a matter of urgency. If you can get them onside that's all the better.

The NEPS website has an excellent explanatory page for parents with must see information explaining about the service and how it can support individual children. It's important to remember that all records stored by the NEPS agency is subject to both the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act.

Some of the Difficulties with NEPS

  • It's not yet a countrywide service.
  • It's not widely advertised; not all parents know its available; many struggle alone without realising there is such help available.
  • There is often a long waiting list in schools for Neps assessments.
  • Educational Psychologists can make suggestions to the school but the school and the child's teacher in particular must implement them. If the school has not got the resources or the teacher only plays lip service to the plan then nothing effectively changes for the child.
  • The NEPS Psychologist can only make a recommendation for extra resource hours for your child; the local SENO (Special Education Needs Organiser) actually makes the decision. If there is no documentary evidence of, for example, a physcial disability or a behavioural problem for which the child is receiving ongoing treatment then the resource hours request is rejected and the child and family are left back at square one.This is a ludicrous situation where the one professional who can make a proper educational plan for the child is ignored in what appears to be a cost cutting exercise. Despite the Department of Education recognising that gifted children are part of a special needs group (Education Act 1998), needing special intervention by schools, unless your child has a physical or emotional disability there is no funding for extra resource hours available from the Deparment, despite recommendations from its own NEPS Psychologist to the contrary. It's no surprise that for many the SENO is nicknamed the SAY NO!
  • NEPS Assessments are usually limited to a small number per school with a result that School Principals reserve these for children whose standardised scores are below the 10th percentile. Of course these children need early intervention too, however it means that children on the other end of the spectrum are rarely offered an assessment.

Despite these difficulties with the service we would advise that you discuss the possibility of having your child assessed with NEPS with your school Principal, if the he or she is experiencing difficulties within the classroom environment.



Personal Stories

“We didn't even know that this service was available. Thankfully the school suggested that this was an option after a really bumpy year. We really didn't know what to expect and were very nervous when we first met the NEPS Psychologist. You sometimes think that your child's difficulties are a reflection on you, but we needn't have worried, It was a great having someone there who we felt was on the side of our child - I suppose he was like an advocate for her within the school. It was obvious from the outset that his main concern was her. Overall it was a very positive experience. "

“What is really annoying is that we thought that the Neps Psychologist could request extra resource hours but although this was recommended it was never followed through because he wasn't getting treatment for emotional or behavioural problems."


Disclaimer: This is not an expert site, it is run on a voluntary basis and as such is based on opinion and experience but we hope that it acts as a signpost for educational resources and other support services for Irish families with exceptionally able children. By using this website you accept that any dependence by you on such information, opinion or advice is at your own risk.

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