The Facts... without the Lecture

RSE in Schools

As a parent, you are the first teacher of your child. You hand on values and attitudes to each new generation of children.

The Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Programme in school aims to provide opportunities for children and young people to learn about relationships and sexuality in ways that help them think and act in a moral, caring and responsible way.

The RSE Programme is part of the wider Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Programme in Post-Primary School.  SPHE is taught from Junior infants to 3rd year, however, the RSE Programme should be taught up to 6th year in Post-Primary school.

An Advisory Group established by the Minister for Education and Science to advise on the development of the RSE in schools found that:

  • Children receive informal and unsupervised information about relationships and sexuality.
  • Such information may be inadequate and inappropriate.
  • Young people are already exposed to a variety of sexual practices and attitudes through the media, particularly television, film and magazines.
  • Children are maturing physically at even earlier ages.
  • The roles of women and men in society are changing.
  • There are health issues associated with sexual practice.
  • Young people are becoming sexually active at earlier ages than in the past.
  • The nature of family life is changing in a way that places many pressures on children and young people.

The Department of Education require that all schools have a policy regarding the teaching of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and that RSE is taught from junior infants to 6th year. Although RSE is a mandatory programme, it is not taught in all schools, or in all classes in all schools. To find out if your child’s school is teaching RSE, you can ask your child, or the principal of your child’s school.

Topics for RSE at Junior Cycle include:

Human Growth and Development

  • an understanding of physical and emotional changes at puberty.
  • fertility, conception, pregnancy and birth.
  • sexually transmitted infections.
  • an awareness of the consequences and implications of sexual activity.

Human Sexuality

  • understanding and respecting what it is to be male or female.
  • an appreciation of the roles of women and men in society.
  • awareness of discrimination.
  • personal safety.
  • sexual orientation.

Human Relationships

  • developing skills regarding making and maintaining good relationships and friendships.
  • family roles and responsibilities.
  • group behaviour and resolving conflict.
  • an understanding of how peer pressure works.

Topics for RSE at senior cycle include:

Human Growth and Development

  • fertility and family planning.
  • a deeper understanding of pregnancy and the developing foetus.

Human sexuality

  • treating women and men with equal respect.
  • sexual harassment.
  • sexual abuse, rape, legal right: voluntary and statutory agencies.
  • making moral and healthy choices regarding sexual activity.

Human relationships

  • an awareness of what constitutes a loving relationship.
  • the long-term commitment involved in marriage.
  • parenting and family life.

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