Thursday, 5 December 2019

Questions (119)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

119. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent of the provision of the SPHE programme in schools, by county and school, in which the programme is not being provided; the steps he is taking to address the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50875/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is mandatory in all primary schools and in Junior Cycle. Relationships and Sexuality Education is mandatory up to and including Leaving Certificate but schools are also encouraged to deliver the SPHE programme in Senior Cycle. SPHE also forms part of the new mandatory 'Wellbeing' area of learning for the Junior Cycle which was introduced in September 2017 and which will be reported on for the first time in 2020.

It is the responsibility of a school's board of management to ensure that SPHE and RSE programmes are taught in the school. My Department's inspectorate conducts robust quality assurance of provision in SPHE and RSE through its programme of inspection in schools. Inspectors check: that the school timetable includes time for SPHE and RSE; that the RSE policy has been developed; that broad and balanced coverage of the SPHE and RSE curriculum is evident in school planning; and, in focused evaluations of SPHE and RSE lessons, that students are achieving the intended outcomes of the curriculum. During all whole-school evaluations, school management is required to confirm that the full Stay Safe programme (at primary), SPHE and RSE curriculum are being provided. Where there is evidence that provision is unsatisfactory, recommendations for improvement are made. In those cases where there is no or inadequate implementation of the SPHE and RSE curriculum, the inspectorate conducts a range of follow-through actions until such time as the relevant school is regarded as being compliant with the requirements in this area.

There is dedicated Continuing Professional Development (CPD) provision to teachers to assist them in delivering the SPHE programme. This is provided by way of training courses provided by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and by way of online resources, which can assist teachers, by providing methodologies for teaching SPHE.