major review | 

New Junior Cert curriculum will see lessons about pornography for first time in Ireland

A revamp for the teaching of young teenagers, to be published today, could prove controversial among some parents
Stock image

Stock image

Senan MolonyIndependent.ie

A new Junior Cert curriculum will see lessons about pornography given in the classroom for the first time in Ireland, following a major review of Relationships and Sexuality Education.

A revamp for the teaching of young teenagers, to be published today, could prove controversial among some parents.

The draft curriculum will tackle pornography, with reference to the online world, and the sharing of sexual images. It will then further deal with consent and matters such as gender stereotyping.

The demand for addressing such issues is student-led, theSunday World understands, and has now found official agreement.

The Department of Education has also concluded that the existing approach to such education in schools was “heavily concerned with the risks and dangers associated with relationships and sexuality, and did not allow for sufficient discussion of the positive, healthy and enjoyable aspects”.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) will today publish a draft course for all pupils on sex education. “Every school, irrespective of ethos, will have to deliver it.”

The two subjects involved are called SPHE (Social, Personal and Health Education) and RSE (Relationships and Sexuality Education).

It involves “new material on a range of issues, including consent, safe use of the internet, pornography, gender identity and sexual orientation, healthy and positive relationships, and addiction issues”.

There will now be a three-month period of public consultation. It is intended that the curriculum can be finalised and rolled out in schools from September next year.

“All interested parties can make their views known through this consultation process,” a spokesman said.

National parent bodies have already had an input, but there has also been “extensive consultation with students”, as well as with teaching bodies and interested organisations.

Research revealed that for most students the instruction received was “simply not meeting the demands of modern life”.

The NCCA says there should now be only one integrated curriculum in this area, rather both RSE and SPHE courses.

Also taught will be sexual orientation, unhealthy abusive relationships, contraception, safer sexual health, LGBTQ+ and addictions.

The Department of Education said there will be “proactive communication with stakeholders” to inform them of the consultation period.

There will be major engagement with approximately 70 NGOs and special interest groups. The NCCA will also engage by “physically going out to schools” .

Meanwhile, work on updating the SPHE/ RSE curriculum at Senior Cycle is also now under way.

A background paper and brief are being prepared which will guide the work. It follows the announcement by Education Minister Norma Foley in March of ambitious plans for a reimagined Leaving Cert, with equity and excellence for all.

It will put the student “at the centre of their Senior Cycle experience”, officials said.

It is anticipated the draft updated Senior Cycle SPHE/RSE curriculum will be available for public consultation by the autumn next year.

Meanwhile, the NCCA is also in the process of redeveloping the primary school curriculum, with a foundation document, upon which curriculum specifications will be developed, to be furnished to the department late this year.


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