Half of secondary schools in Ireland failing to meet requirements for teaching RSE

Survey data from 2015 and 2018 revealed high levels of secondary schools failing to meet requirements on providing Relationship and Sex Education (RSE).

Secondary schools RSE

Half of Ireland’s secondary schools are reportedly failing to meet requirements on providing students with six relationship and sexual education (RSE) classes a year, according to figures supplied by Minister for Education Emma Foley.

In response to queries by Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon, Education Minister Emma Foley provided survey data on RSE in secondary schools from 2015 and 2018. Relationship and sexual education classes are an integral component in Junior Cycle SPHE up to Third Year as well as require teaching in the Senior Cycle. 

According to an initial survey by the Department of Education in 2015, over a quarter of schools reported meeting the State requirement for providing six RSE classes per year. 16% of respondents stated that they provide three to five classes per year while 41% taught one to two classes per year and a further 5% supplied none.

In 2018, under half of Ireland’s secondary schools met the requirement to provide six RSE classes per year. The figures further noted that 14% provided three to five classes, 26% taught one to two classes per year, and 4% provided none.

Regarding the figures from the Minister for Education, TD Gannon stated, “Teenagers are living in a complex, uncertain world. They need access to independent advice on the challenges they face in learning life skills.”

Gannon voiced concerns over RSE being removed from education agendas due to a lack of engagement. He said, “Our concern is that once again we are seeing things being honoured in the breach rather than the application. Coronavirus has diverted everyone’s attention but the Social Democrats will prioritise this next year.”

On Twitter, Director of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) Dublin Clare O’Connor wrote, “The number of schools providing adequate RSE to students is much worse than I imagined. Fair play to Gary Gannon for staying on this. If kids are to understand consent, healthy relationships, their own body image & self-worth, this education is vital.”

LGBTQ+ organisation NXF wrote on Twitter, “It is simply unacceptable that so many schools are failing to meet their existing obligations around RSE. As Government prepares to update Curriculum, it must not only be fully LGBTQ+ inclusive but actually delivered in all schools.”

Foley has assured that the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) are working towards developing an updated curriculum and interim guidelines for RSE. She stated, “Access to Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is an important right for students… schools have a responsibility to provide for this vital aspect of education to young people.”

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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