Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Ceisteanna (222)

Noel Rock


222. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the misinformation and scaremongering occurring in relation to the relationship and sexuality education curriculum in primary schools; if a public awareness programme will be undertaken to ease any fears parents may have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47790/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The entire focus of Relationship and Sexuality Education is on preparing young people for adult 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.

Access to Relationship and Sexuality Education 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 Relationship and Sexuality Education programme should be planned in consultation with parents and having regard to the ethos of the school.

The most recent phase of consultation by the National Council for Curriculum Assessment on Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) closed on 26th October. This phase invited feedback on the NCCA's draft report on its review of RSE and, again, there was significant public engagement in this process. The consultation took the form of an online survey, invitations to make written submissions, and a major seminar took place in Dublin Castle.

I understand that the feedback arising from the NCCA consultation will be incorporated into a draft final report which will be considered by the members of the Council at its December 2019 meeting. I expect to receive the NCCA's report shortly after this, and it will be carefully considered by my Department.

I am aware of material that was circulated as part of a campaign of misinformation to spread misleading claims about what type of Relationships and Sex Education will be taught to young children in our schools. I have said publicly, and I repeat it again today, that these claims are untrue and also deeply unhelpful. They amount to malicious scaremongering.

Under no circumstances will my Department impose a curriculum whereby young children are exposed to instruction or information in relation to sexual activity that is inappropriate to their age.

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.

It is vital that we provide future generations with an understanding of the importance of consent, the development of relationships, safe use of the internet and a healthy positive attitude to sexuality.