Thursday 19 September 2019

Schools not offering sex education, PE to pupils

Issues: Presentation Brothers College, Mardyke, Cork
Issues: Presentation Brothers College, Mardyke, Cork
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

A number of second-level schools have been taken to task by Department of Education inspectors over the lack of, or inadequate, sex education for senior-cycle pupils.

Another common theme in recent reports from inspectors are schools that were not providing PE for Leaving Cert pupils.

Relationships and sexuality education (RSE) has been mandatory for all pupils since the 1990s, and all students are also supposed to have access to PE.

However, inspectors continue to find schools where Leaving Cert students in particular are not timetabled for one or both of these subjects, often because of the focus on exams.

A major review of the quality and delivery of RSE in schools is currently under way.

Concerns about RSE and PE provision in some schools were raised in reports arising from whole school evaluations (WSE) that were conducted last autumn.

At the fee-paying 716-pupil, all-boys Presentation Brothers College, Mardyke, Cork, inspectors said it was clear from the outcomes of questionnaires issued as part of the WSE that there was a strong need to improve provision around relationships, sex and social, personal and health education.

Inspectors also asked for a review of RSE at another fee-paying boys' school, CUS, Leeson Street, Dublin.

According to the CUS report, questionnaire responses from parents and students indicate "an inconsistency in the quality and frequency of RSE provision at senior cycle" in the 525-pupil school.

A lack of timetabling for PE for fifth and sixth-year pupils is also highlighted in the WSE report on the Presentation Brothers College, Mardyke.

Although a rugby stronghold, with a range of other sports also played, recommendations from two previous inspectors' reports about ensuring Leaving Cert pupils were timetabled for PE had not been implemented, inspectors found.

In its response to the WSE, the Mardyke school said a member of the board of management had been assigned to oversee that all of the recommendations made in the report were put in place.

At the 618-pupil Leixlip Community School, Co Kildare, inspectors said good timetabling practices were in place, but a few anomalies existed including the absence of sixth-year PE.

A report on the 767-pupil co-educational Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal, Blarney, Co Cork, noted that, due to space and timetabling decisions, students taking higher level maths or LCVP in senior cycle had no access to PE.

The inspectors said it needed to be addressed and acknowledged plans to do so, in the context of the construction of a new building.

Low morale among pupils and teachers was reported by inspectors following a WSE at the 575 all-boys school Coláiste Choilm, Swords, Co Dublin.

Weaknesses in the quality of strategic planning for curriculum provision, under-developed systems to provide for student well-being, and under-utilisation of hours allocated for pupils with special needs, were also highlighted.

The board of management accepted "the general thrust of the report as a fair assessment of our school at this time" and said it would address the issues as a matter of urgency.

At St Farnan's Post-Primary School, Co Kildare, inspectors said the overall quality of school leadership and management was less than satisfactory, noting that the board had not met for a sufficient number of meetings over the previous year. The board responded to the WSE with a detailed action plan.

Irish Independent

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