Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (197)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

197. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a reply will issue to a query by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44204/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I refer to your recent correspondence regarding RSE in schools.

Access to Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) is an important right for students. Schools have a responsibility to provide for this vital aspect of education to young people. Importantly, a school’s RSE programme should be planned in consultation with parents and having regard to the ethos of the school.

At all times RSE will be based on what is appropriate for a child’s age or their development. It is about many things but at its heart will be respect.

Under no circumstances will the Department of Education and Skills impose a curriculum whereby young children are exposed to instruction or information in relation to sexual activity that is inappropriate.

The entire focus of RSE is on preparing young people for life, on emphasising the importance of respect for themselves and each other, developing healthy relationships, understanding the importance of consent and helping young people to develop and mature in a positive light.

In April 2018, a review of RSE in schools was announced by the previous Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton TD. The Minister asked the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) to undertake a review, not just of the content of the curriculum but of how it is taught in schools.

The 2010 World Health Organisation (WHO) document, ‘Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe’ was referred to in a research paper which fed into the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment’s (NCCA) review of RSE in schools. The approach taken in this WHO document has not been endorsed by the NCCA.

The bill referred to is the Provision of Objective Sex Education Private Members Bill, initiated by Opposition T.D.s. That Bill has not been passed by the Oireachtas and is not part of the NCCA review of RSE in schools.

As Minister for Education and Skills, I am committed to ensuring that any RSE curriculum will be appropriate to the age and developmental stage of the children in our schools.