Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Questions (66)

Martin Heydon


66. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration is being given to increase the amount of time being spent in schools on the social, personal and health education curriculum in view of increasing anxiety and stress being reported among children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40545/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum is the context in which social and emotional learning is addressed in primary and post primary schools. A wide range of supports and programmes are available to support schools in the implementation of the SPHE curriculum.

My Department is strongly supportive of the promotion of positive mental health awareness in schools. This Department adopts a holistic and integrated approach to supporting schools in promoting positive mental health.

All students commencing Junior Cycle from September 2017 onwards undertake an area of learning called Wellbeing. Wellbeing crosses the three years of Junior Cycle and builds on substantial work already taking place in schools in support of students’ wellbeing. It is envisioned that the school’s commitment to this area of learning will increasingly have a positive impact on the wellbeing of the students. It will include learning opportunities to further enhance the physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing of students.

The Junior Cycle Wellbeing programme began with a minimum of 300 hours of timetabled engagement in 2017 and will build up to 400 hours of timetabled engagement by 2020 for students entering first year in September 2020, as the new Junior Cycle is implemented fully in schools.

My Department published guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention in 2013 and my Department also provides other supports such as educational psychological services and guidance and counselling services, and an interface with other agencies.

My Department has published a Wellbeing Policy and Framework for Practice (2018-2023) for all schools which will inform how schools can promote student wellbeing.

The Wellbeing Policy also builds on the work already taking place in schools including the new Framework for Junior Cycle which places a clear emphasis on overall student health and wellbeing. This Framework is underpinned by eight principles, one of which is "Wellbeing" covering the development of key skills of “Managing Myself" and "Staying Well" which cover issues such as mental health and mental ill-health, dealing with tough times, loss and bereavement.