Thursday, 5 December 2019

Questions (118)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

118. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the circumstances in which a campaign (details supplied) is providing health messaging to school students in respect of alcohol; if he has sanctioned the activity; his views on the appropriateness of the alcohol industry being involved in educational content; the existing arrangements for health education in respect of substance misuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50860/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department has no plans to engage with or promote any resources for schools that may be developed by the drinks industry.

It is a matter for schools and teachers in the first instance to determine what resources and supports they will use to support their implementation of the curriculum. Teachers are equipped to make such decisions as a result of their initial teacher education and the ongoing support provided by the Professional Developmeent Service for Teachers (PDST). There are also protocols in place to ensure that strict criteria are observed by schools when inviting external agencies to address students about particular issues.

The issue of alcohol misuse is addressed in the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme, which has a specific module on the use and misuse of a range of substances. As students progress through the SPHE programme, they encounter a wide range of issues, including substance misuse. 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 difficult issues, including drugs, alcohol and gambling.

SPHE is currently mandatory in all primary schools and in Junior Cycle. It also forms part of the mandatory 'Wellbeing' area of learning for the new Junior Cycle which was introduced in September 2017. Schools are also encouraged to deliver the SPHE programme in senior cycle.

Relevant topics in SPHE include student decision-making skills and safety and protection. Students learn how to exercise judgement, weigh up different possibilities, examine the steps and choices that guide them towards considered decision-making, begin to understand their own rights and the rights of others, and explore decision-making. In respect of safety, students’ ability to assess the consequences of risky behaviour is also developed.