Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 140 - Tobacco control measures [48206/13] [Education].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 140 - Tobacco control measures [48206/13] [Education]. (12 Nov 2013)

External website: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20a...

140. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the mandatory educational programmes currently operating within the primary and secondary systems which are focused on educating children to the dangers of smoking; if he will provide a breakdown of the mandatory number of hours of such training that students receive throughout their education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48206/13] 

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is currently a compulsory subject in primary schools and at Junior Cycle in post primary schools. The SPHE curricula aim to foster self-worth, self -confidence and respectful relationships and place a particular emphasis on developing a sense of personal responsibility for one's own behaviour, feelings and actions.


The issue of smoking is addressed in the 'Personal Safety' strand of SPHE, in the context of equipping students with the skills to recognise and withstand inappropriate peer pressure and to identify the dangers of substance abuse. For example, SPHE students at Junior Cycle explore the health and social implications of smoking and identify some of the reasons why young people smoke. Students are also helped to identify ways in which smoking can be avoided. Enabling students to make informed decisions and choices is an inherent aim in the teaching and learning within SPHE.


SPHE is delivered for 30 minutes per week at primary level, and for approximately 66 hours during the three years of junior cycle.


The approach to SPHE is changing at Junior Cycle. As part of the reform of the Junior Cycle that was announced by the Minister of Education and Skills in October 2012, the key objectives of SPHE are now reflected in a number of 'Principles', 'Statements of Learning', and skills that underpin the new Junior Cycle Framework.


As part of the new 'Well-being' principle, the student experience will "contribute to their physical, mental, emotional and social well-being and resilience. Learning takes place in a climate focussed on collective well-being of school, community and society". Under the new Junior Cycle Framework, pupils will be provided with opportunities to acquire the relevant skills of 'Managing Myself', 'Staying well', and 'Communicating'. Together the development of these skills will enable pupils to address the challenges they face and adapt their skills to different contexts, leading to their positive well-being.


As part of the new Junior Cycle Framework, the NCCA is currently developing a new short course in SPHE. The SPHE short course may be delivered for certification purposes and will involve an increase in the time allocation for SPHE at Junior Cycle up to 100 hours over the three years. This short course is currently open for public consultation. The consultation process will close at the end of November. The new short course will be available to schools from September 2014. Schools will then have the option to implement the new SPHE short course, or to continue to use existing courses or to adopt an alternative approach to meeting their requirements in this area.

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