Review of RSE
At the request of the Minister of Education, the NCCA undertook a major review of RSE in primary and post-primary schools. The review began in June 2018. The review included an examination of the RSE curriculum, the approach to teaching and learning, supports needed, and ways to improve the experience of RSE for students. Participation in the review was considerable, demonstrating the level of interest people have in this aspect of education. The review involved students, parents, teachers, school leaders, researchers and organisations, with a view to gaining a full appreciation of the nature of young peoples’ needs and experience of RSE.
Timeframe and scale of engagement in the Review
The review was conducted in two phases. The first phase took place between June 2018 and March 2019. There was widespread participation in this phase of the consultation. On foot of extensive consultation, the NCCA produced a Draft Report on the Review of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in Primary and Post-Primary Schools and began a second phase of consultation from July to October 2019. This consultation was based on proposals in the draft Report which included; the proposed advice for the future approach to RSE, suggestions regarding future curriculum developments, the conditions needed for effective RSE and other considerations. Feedback was facilitated through an online survey, written submissions and a consultative symposium.
You can read the report on the Review of Relationships and Sexuality Education in primary and post-primary schools here.
What’s currently being taught in Irish primary and post-primary schools in RSE?
Ireland currently has a subject called Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), and Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is a key part of this. RSE has been a compulsory part of the primary and post-primary curriculum since the late 1990s. To view the current SPHE/RSE curricula please click on the relevant link below.
Has the NCCA developed an updated RSE curriculum for primary and post-primary schools?
No, there has been no new curriculum developed. The NCCA adopts a partnership approach to curriculum development. Beginning in 2020 an updated RSE curriculum will be developed together with stakeholders from across education. For more information on the stakeholder's involved visit: https://www.ncca.ie/en/about/council-2019-2022.
Who will have a say in the development of an updated curriculum?
When an updated draft curriculum for SPHE/RSE is developed it will go through the normal NCCA curriculum development structures which include representatives from all the key education stakeholders. These include representatives from Parent groups, Teacher Unions, School Management bodies, Department of Education and those with relevant expertise.
During the development of an updated draft SPHE/RSE curriculum, there will be further consultation with stakeholders and the public and the NCCA will publicise this via this website and through other media.
How can parents be involved in the development process?
Parents are the primary educators of their children and important partners in the education process that happens within schools. The NCCA will continue to involve parents in conversations and consultation so that they can share their views as developments within SPHE/RSE continue. This will be facilitated in a variety of ways – through working with representative groups, through focus group and advisory group meetings and through further public consultation which will be publicised via the NCCA websites and social media channels and through other media. To stay informed register for our newsletter at www.ncca.ie.
What topics will be taught and at what age will these be taught?
The list of topics and when they are taught will be discussed and decided through regular NCCA processes. This involves establishing a Development Group which includes teachers, Department of Education and Skills’ inspectors and experts in the field of RSE. The Development Group works together to develop the curriculum and in the case of RSE to decide on the list of topics and when they are to be taught. Amongst the guiding principles for all discussions will be an awareness that topics should be taught in an age-appropriate, sensitive and incremental manner. For more information on the development processes of NCCA visit https://www.ncca.ie/en/about/boards-and-development-groups.
Will there be further opportunities to share my views in relation to RSE?
Yes, during curriculum development there will be further opportunities to share views through consultation.
Where can I find out up-to-date information on developments in RSE?
Through the NCCA website and social media channels which will be updated regularly. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any specific questions related to RSE.
The NCCA conducted focus group meetings with primary and post primary students across 23 schools. Their views are contained in the draft Report, in chapter 2, p. 14-25.
In addition, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) organised a one-day consultation event with 77 representatives from Comhairlí na nÓg.
You can find a short report available here.
To support participants who wish to contribute to the review, a research paper has been developed by Prof. Mark Morgan, Dr Seline Keating and Dr Bernie Collins, Dublin City University. The paper provides a historical context for the review, an overview of contemporary approaches to RSE, as well as insights into the experience of teachers, parents and of course students.
The paper can be downloaded here: Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in Primary and Post-Primary Irish Schools - A Research Paper.
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