| 12.4°C Dublin

Some schools not teaching about relationships


Is 11 too young to be teaching children about rape?

Is 11 too young to be teaching children about rape?

Is 11 too young to be teaching children about rape?

Second-level schools are required to teach relationships and sexuality education (RSE) to all students - but inspectors still find cases where it is not being done, or where there are shortcomings in how it is being delivered.

RSE covers a range of issues such as family planning, sexually transmitted infections and sexual orientation and schools may not use ethos as a ground for omitting any aspect of the programme.

At Junior Cycle, relationships and sexuality education is part of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), while schools are also required to deliver RSE to fifth and sixth year students.

The issue surfaces occasionally in Whole School Evaluation (WSE) reports, including a number that have been published by the Department in the past six months.

According to the WSE on Rosemont School, a fee-charging all-girls school in south Dublin under the trusteeship of Rosemont Educational Foundation Ltd (REFL), which is inspired by the teachings of the Catholic Church and Opus Dei, there were appropriate policies and programmes in place for SPHE and RSE.

However, feedback from the parent and student surveys and the student focus group meeting, held as part of the WSE, suggested that "students and parents were unclear about some aspects of the programmes and some students may require a deeper exploration of specific topics".

Inspectors recommended a collaborative review with a view to developing greater awareness of the content of the programmes among parents, and addressing any perceived shortfalls identified by students.

At Colaiste Iosaef, Kilmallock, Co Limerick, a co-educational school in the Department of Education's DEIS programme for disadvantaged areas, inspectors raised an issue about a gap in provision in SPHE for junior cycle students and recommended that it be reinstated on the timetable for first-year students.

In its response, the school said its timetable now included SPHE for all class groups and said its RSE policy was being updated.

At Manor House girls' school Raheny, Dublin, inspectors said, in line with good practice RSE should be delivered to senior cycle students over two years and not one.

The lack of RSE for fifth-and sixth-year students at Colaiste Pobail Rath Cairn, Athboy, Co Meath, was reported by inspectors in a WSE published in June 2013.

And, when inspectors carried out a Follow Through inspection last November, they noted that provision had still not been made for it.

At Marino College, Fairview Dublin, the report that followed a WSE inspection last May, stated that SPHE was being taught as part of junior cycle but that not all teachers had received training and there was no SPHE coordinator.

Inspectors also expressed concern that the RSE programme for senior cycle was not being fully delivered. In its response the school said its SPHE/RSE policy had been revisited.

Once on the department's site, you can choose the appropriate report or simply type the full name and area of your child's school into the search box in the top right of the page.

Irish Independent