Access to relationship and sexuality education is an important right for students. Schools have a responsibility to provide for this, importantly, in consultation with parents and having regard to the ethos of the school. Curricular provision for Social Personal Health Education (SPHE) and Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) across primary and post-primary level is aimed at ensuring that topics are covered in an age appropriate manner.
In April 2018, a review of Relationships and Sexual Education (RSE) in schools was announced by Mr. Richard Bruton TD, the then Minister for Education and Skills. The Minister asked the NCCA to undertake a review not just of the content of the curriculum but of how it is taught.
The NCCA were asked to look at a number of specific issues in respect of the curriculum, in particular the importance of consent and what it means. The NCCA will also look at developments in contraception and at healthy, positive, sexual expression and relationships. Other areas for examination are safe use of the Internet and social media and its effects on relationships and self-esteem, and on LGBTQ+ matters.
A consultative event was held in November 2018 at Collins Barracks, Dublin and involved approximately 60 groups and organisation who have expressed an interest in or who are known to have an interest in contributing to the review. A further round of public consultation is planned by the NCCA, to run up to approximately October 2019, after which the NCCA Council will agree a final report to be sent to my Department.
The NCCA’s draft review of its findings is currently open to consultation to ensure the findings and related draft advice is reflective of the needs of students, schools and parents. The draft report is available and anyone who wishes to contribute to this consultation, you may do so at:
Section 30(2)(e) of the Education Act 1998 states that the Minister shall not require any student to attend instruction in any subject which is contrary to the conscience of the parent of the student or in the case of a student who has reached the age of 18 years, the student.