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Minister orders full review of sex education in schools

Richard Bruton is due to address the annual conference of the ASTI teachers’ union this morning.

Image: Shutterstock

THE EDUCATION MINISTER has ordered a full review of sex education in schools, with particular focus on certain areas, including consent and contraception.

Richard Bruton said that certain elements of the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in schools were 20 years old and that it was important to carry out a review to ensure it was fit for purpose to meet the needs of young people.

Bruton has written to the National Council on Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) that they consider certain areas in particular. These include:

  • Consent, what it means and its importance
  • Developments in contraception
  • Healthy, positive sexual expression and relationships
  • Safe use of the internet
  • Social media and its effects on relationships and self-esteem
  • LGBTQ+ matters

Bruton also said that teachers, students, parents and principals would be consulted over the experience of how RSE is delivered in schools.

RSE is mandatory for both primary and post-primary students, however the curriculum is out of date and it is sometimes not taught properly.

“The RSE curriculum fulfils an important function,” said Bruton.

“Every student has a right to access information about sexual health, relationships and sexuality, and this must be delivered in a factual manner in every school.

This review will help to inform decisions regarding the content of the curriculum and how it is delivered.

I want to ensure that the RSE curriculum meets the needs of young people today, who face a range of different issues to those faced by young people in the late 1990s.

Bruton said that it was “essential” that the curriculum was delivered by teachers “who are fully supported and who feel comfortable teaching the curriculum and talking to their students about sexuality and relationships”.

In its final report, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the 8th Amendment said in one of its recommendations that improvements should be made “in sexual health and relationship education, including the areas of contraception and consent, in primary and post-primary schools, colleges, youth clubs and other organisations involved in education and interactions with young people”.

Bruton is due to address the annual conference of the ASTI teachers’ union this morning.

Read: France to set legal age of sexual consent at 15

Read: ‘We can’t ignore the very real possibility of the emergence of a new disruptive politics’

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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