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Junior Cert students want classes on sex and drugs

A nationwide consultation on Junior Cert reform finds that students want more education on social issues.
Jul 11th 2011, 2:11 PM 1,128 18

SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS have told a nationwide consultation on Junior Cert reform that they should be given more classes on sexuality, sex education, alcohol and drugs.

A report launched this morning by education minister Ruairí Quinn and children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald showed that students felt the current curriculum in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) required expansion to cover more real-life concerns.

“Students called for classes that cover issues such as sexuality, sex education, personal health, alcohol and drug education, politics and study skills,” said Lisa Sheehy of the Dáil na nÓg Council, which assisted with the consultation.

Participants also complained that SPHE should not be taught by religion teachers, and suggested that outside experts be invited into schools to support students as they learn on life skills issues.

Only four subjects – SPHE, English, Maths and Civic Social and Political Education – should be mandatory, the students thought, with other subjects adjusted so that practical work like portfolios and journals are given greater weighting.

Other suggestions from the students were to shorten the Junior Certificate exam cycle to two years, extending the Senior Cycle by another year in return.

Students also suggested that First Year pupils in secondary school be assigned to permanent classrooms, with teachers moving between rooms rather than students, in order to help ease the transition to Second Level teaching.

The consultation’s results have been sent to the National Council for Curriculum Assessment for its consideration.

Fitzgerald said she “strongly believed in the importance of consulting with children and young people, and enabling their participation in decision-making issues on issues that affect their lives.”

A national literacy plan launched by Quinn last week outlined plans which would limit the number of subjects that a Junior Cert exam student can take to eight.

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Gavan Reilly

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