Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 247 – Departmental policies [Education] [3751/23].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 247 – Departmental policies [Education] [3751/23]. (26 Jan 2023)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2023...

247. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Education the steps she is taking to ensure that young persons, especially in schools and colleges, are not exposed to indirect advertising by drinks companies; if she will ensure that an organisation (details supplied) is not permitted in secondary schools; if she will ensure that there is a prohibition on alcohol industry funded programmes in Irish secondary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3751/23] 

Minister for Education Norma Foley: As I have previously stated, it is not appropriate to use resources or materials produced or funded by the alcohol industry for education and awareness on alcohol in schools, or for teachers to attend, in their professional capacity, associated training which may be offered by organisations funded by the alcohol industry. 

This is reflected in Departmental Circular 13/2016, Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles in Primary Schools, and Information Note 11/2022, Updates on the implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle with particular reference to the school year 2022/23, which state that schools should avoid using resources developed by the alcohol industry. This position has also been confirmed to principals of post-primary schools, in a communication issued by the Department in December. This letter was published on the Gov.ie website on the same day and is available here: www.gov.ie/en/publication/6ace6-letter-to-principals-alcohol-resources/ 

The letter has also reminded principals of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment's (NCCA’s) SPHE Guidelines for Teachers, which encourages teachers to question the origin and funding of such resources as well as the evidence base used in their production. If, for example, resources are funded by parties with potential conflicts of interests, such as alcohol resources produced by Drinkaware, which is funded by the alcohol industry, then in line with the clear advice of the HSE they should not be used in schools. These guidelines are available on the NCCA’s online toolkit. 

The communication issued to school principals in December also outlines the evidence-based resources on alcohol and drugs for schools developed by the HSE with the support of the Department of Education and the NCCA. The 'Know the Score' programme is a substance misuse programme published in 2019 for Transition Year or 5th year pupils. Know the Score can be found on HSE.ie, and training is available for teachers. 

In addition to this, ‘Making Healthy Choices’ resources for Junior Cycle SPHE are being developed. Unit 1 is currently available on the NCCA’s online toolkit for SPHE to support teachers in addressing issues of alcohol, tobacco and drug use. Units 2 and 3 of this programme are due to be published this year.

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