School ethos 'should not dictate sex education'
Teachers and students have called for an end to the days when a school's religious ethos can dictate how it teaches sex education.
While relationships and sexuality education (RSE) is mandatory at both primary and post-primary level, a school's policy on it can reflect its "core values and ethos".
RSE is in the spotlight following Education Minister Richard Bruton's recent announcement of a major review of the programme, for the first time in 20 years. The Oireachtas Education Committee is also looking at the issue and held a hearing yesterday.
Irish Second-Level Students' Union (ISSU) welfare and equality officer Eboni Burke said there was a need for a one-size-fits-all approach to RSE, to which all schools must adhere, regardless of patronage.
She told the committee of a recent ISSU online survey, which found more than 87pc of students did not have RSE on a regular basis, 65pc had not learned about consent and 28pc said they had received no contraceptive education.
Teacher union representatives also said the relationship between school ethos and a State curriculum needed to be addressed. Maeve McCafferty of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation said ethos could affect the delivery of RSE and that children should have a right to age-appropriate factual information.