Written answers

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Mental Health Policy

Photo of Mark WardMark Ward (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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67. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to introduce mental health and resilience modules in secondary education for transition year students and leaving certificate students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48505/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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My Department has an important role to play in supporting the wellbeing and mental health of our young people. As the deputy is aware, my Department’s Wellbeing Policy and Framework for practice has given recognition to the importance of promoting wellbeing in education. It outlines a comprehensive, whole-school approach to the promotion of wellbeing and positive mental health. It focuses on the whole school community, as well as groups and individual young people with identified needs.

The curriculum plays an important role in teaching students about managing their wellbeing. The Curriculum Framework for Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) was developed by NCCA in consultation with teachers, learners, parents, management bodies and others.

The framework builds on students’ prior learning in primary and junior cycle SPHE. The aim of senior cycle SPHE is to support learners in making choices for health and wellbeing now and in the future.

The curriculum framework for SPHE in senior cycle is an enabling curriculum. The framework is built around five areas of learning one of which relates to Mental Health.

The objectives of the mental health area of learning are to:

1. develop students’ confidence and competence to act in support of mental health and wellbeing

2. develop students’ self-awareness about the attitudes, values and beliefs that underpin healthy personal lifestyle behaviours and choices

3. develop students’ capacity to empathise with others through a greater understanding of different life experiences, motives and feelings of other individuals and groups

4. examine the factors which impact on mental health and wellbeing and develop young people’s ability to act on behalf of personal and group health and wellbeing

The management authority of each school carries responsibility for making decisions regarding the Transition Year Programme in that school.

Each school designs its own Transition Year programme, within set guidelines, to suit the needs and interests of its students. In establishing its own distinctive programme content, the school takes into account the possibilities offered by local community interests.

The NCCA has undertaken an extensive review of senior cycle programmes and vocational pathways, including Transition Year, the Leaving Certificate Applied, Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme and the Leaving Certificate Established.

A key theme of this review was the future form and reform of the existing senior cycle programmes. This includes the range of learning programmes and pathways available to students at senior cycle, with a desire expressed that senior cycle should provide adequate supports for whatever progression pathways are chosen by students. My Department is currently considering this and other aspects of the NCCA’s advisory report, which will be published shortly.

Regular monitoring and external evaluation of Transition Year programmes is provided by the Department's inspectorate and psychological service. Transition Year Programmes – Guidelines for Schools (ncca.ie)


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