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Order of Business

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Senator Robbie Gallagher

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Robbie Gallagher

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

A number of commitments were contained in the Action Plan for Education when it was announced with a degree of fanfare towards the end of last year. One of them was a commitment to hire 65 educational psychologists in the first quarter of 2017. The Leader will agree that the version of this commitment in the updated version of the action plan, as published last week, represents a significant and severe drop because it refers merely to the hiring of ten educational psychologists in the second quarter of 2017. No explanation has been given for this downgrade. Members will acknowledge that additional educational psychologists are very much needed in the education system to assist all students who have special needs. I found it quite startling to learn recently that 199 schools, with approximately 34,575 pupils, do not have access to educational psychologists. It is a shameful statistic. Needless to say, the schools that do not have access to educational psychologists are put at a severe disadvantage. Children with special needs in those schools are being forgotten about. As we know, teachers are not qualified to diagnose children. They need experts to assess children in order that recommendations can be made on work programmes for those children in their schools. I ask the Leader to impress on the Minister for Education and Skills the need to address this issue so that the most needy children can be catered for within our school system.