Schools have a role to play in supporting their students to develop the key skills and knowledge to enable them to make informed choices when faced with a range of issues. This is mainly done through the Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme. SPHE is currently mandatory in all primary schools and in junior cycle. It also forms part of the mandatory 'Well-being' area of learning for the new junior cycle which was introduced in September 2017. A Framework for SPHE at Senior Cycle is also available to schools.
The SPHE curriculum aims to provide a range of diverse and inclusive skills such as communicating, making decisions, knowing where to find reliable data, belonging and integrating, handling conflict constructively, dealing with bullying, expressing feelings and emotions, substance abuse, resisting peer pressure, personal safety, healthy lifestyles, values and mutual respect.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) has undertaken extensive work reviewing Relationships and Sexuality Education. The NCCA Council is currently considering the draft report and following their consideration, I look forward to receiving the advice of the Council on this matter.
The review of RSE will be an important development in our education system as part of the Department's continued efforts to prepare our young people for adult life, including a renewed emphasis on respect, relationships and well-being.