Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 98 – School curriculum [34813/22].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 98 – School curriculum [34813/22]. (29 Jun 2022)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2022...

  1. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education if her Department has plans to introduce a new programme on alcohol education (details supplied) for primary level students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34813/22]


Norma Foley Minister for Education

The current Social Personal and Health Education Curriculum (SPHE) is for children from junior infants to sixth class. It provides particular opportunities to foster the personal development, health and well-being of the individual child, to help him/her to create and maintain supportive relationships and become an active and responsible citizen in society. Through an SPHE programme that is planned and consistent throughout the school, children can develop a framework of values, attitudes, understanding and skills that will inform their decisions and actions both now and in the future. As children progress through an SPHE programme, they will encounter a wide range of issues. These will include substance misuse, relationships, sexuality, child abuse prevention, prejudice and discrimination. The SPHE curriculum is structured in such a way that these issues are not explored in isolation; rather the emphasis is on building a foundation of skills, values, attitudes and understanding relevant to all these issues, with specific information provided where necessary.


The SPHE Curriculum is divided into three strands Myself, Myself and Others, Myself and the Wider World at all levels, where topics are dealt with in an age and stage appropriate manner. From third class, under the area of ‘Myself’, through the strand unit ‘Taking Care of My Body’, children should be enabled to understand and appreciate what it means


- to be healthy and to have a balanced lifestyle,


- to realise that each individual has some responsibility for his/her health and that this responsibility increases as he/she gets older


- to be aware of the dangers in using tobacco or alcohol and explore the reasons why people may choose to smoke or drink


-to distinguish between legal and illegal substances, identifying those that are most commonly used, and examine and understand the effects they can have alcohol,


- explore some of the reasons why people smoke, drink alcohol, misuse any kind of substances or take drugs that have no medical use.


- The Programme for Government states that ‘this Government will develop inclusive and age appropriate curricula for Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) across primary and post-primary schools. The immediate focus of the work of the NCCA has been on creating support materials for teachers for publication online as part of an Interim Guidance Toolkit. The toolkit's purpose is to support effective teaching and learning of SPHE/RSE linked to the current curriculum and to provide guidance on how SPHE/RSE may be approached in a comprehensive way that meets the needs of young people today.


- The primary curriculum is currently undergoing a period of review and redevelopment, lead by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). There are calls for the primary curriculum to do more. To include new areas of learning such as: Education about Religions and Beliefs (ERB) and Ethics, coding and computational thinking, and modern foreign languages, and more time for existing areas such as wellbeing (including SPHE and PE). In February 2020 the NCCA published the Draft Primary Curriculum Framework for public consultation. The impact of COVID-19 required changes to the consultation timeline, with a revised two-phased approach which was completed by the end of February 2022. It is intended that the finalised document will be sent from NCCA to the Minister for approval in early 2023 with publication by end Q1 2023. This framework will then guide the NCCA’s work in developing a specification for each curriculum area. It will be the 2025/26 school year before these are introduced to schools


-Other programmes, such as the Garda Schools Programme deal with issues relating to substance misuse, including alcohol. This is a joint Department of Education and An Garda Síochána initiative which commenced in 1991. Specially trained Gardaí in each Garda Division are tasked with the implementation of the Programme. The programme is currently being updated and will be relaunched at the start of the next school year. The current primary and post-primary Garda Schools Programme provides lessons on the following topics:


- An Garda Síochána - Role, Uniform and Equipment


- Vandalism


- Personal Safety – including substance misuse


- Road Safety


- Cycle Safety


- Respectful online Communication (Primary School)


- Connect with Respect (post-primary School)


More information can be found on www.garda.ie/en/crime-prevention/community-engagement/community-engagement-offices/garda-schools-programme-office.html.

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