Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Legislative Programme

10:50 am

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Access to sexual and health education is an important right for students, and it is equally important that this education meets the needs of students in their day-to-day lives and reflect best practice. The Department continues to work closely with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, to give effect to the commitment in the programme for Government to develop inclusive and age-appropriate relationship and sexual education, RSE, and social, political and health education, SPHE, curriculums at primary and post-primary levels, including through an inclusive programme on LGBTI+ relationships and making appropriate legislative changes, if necessary. The NCCA draws on the report on the review of relationships and sexuality education in primary and post-primary schools, which was published in December 2019.

As the Deputy will be aware from the Second Stage debate on the Private Members’ Bill he tabled, arising from recommendations in that report, the NCCA has been following a twin-track approach in this work. First, the NCCA has a focus on developing support materials for teachers for publication online as part of an online guidance toolkit. The toolkit supports teachers in their engagement with the current SPHE-RSE curriculum in a confident and holistic manner, and in a comprehensive way that meets the needs of young people today. Separate toolkits, which are being used by schools, are available for the primary, junior cycle and senior cycle curriculum areas.

In tandem with this work on the online toolkits, the NCCA is progressing the broader redevelopment and update of the SPHE curriculum, with an initial focus on the junior cycle. The Department is also examining means to support teachers through the provision of enhanced continuing professional development, CPD. A review of the current junior cycle SPHE course has been approved by the NCCA and forms the basis for the work of the subject development groups in formulating an updated junior cycle SPHE specification. A draft revised junior cycle specification is due to be agreed by the NCCA in advance of the summer, with a public consultation to follow. The final revised specification is due to be completed by the end of 2022 and rolled out in schools from September 2023. Preparatory work will commence in 2022 in respect of senior cycle specifications as the next area of focus.


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