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New research to gauge sex education

15 Sep 2016

Pic: Getty Images

The HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (CPP), which is responsible for implementing the National Sexual Health Strategy (2015-2020), wants to commission qualitative research on staff and students’ experience of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE), first introduced in 1997, in at least nine Irish post-primary schools countrywide.

It is considering engaging third-level institutions, research organisations or individuals to design and conduct the study meant to capture the breadth of experiences among students, teachers and staff.

A maximum budget of €110,000 exclusive of VAT has been set aside for the project, expected to be completed in 13 months, to begin in November 2016. Data collection is proposed to take place between February and April 2017.

On the basis of previous research on RSE, the CPP and the Department of Education and Skills (DES) carried out a number of initiatives to further support schools to implement RSE.

At the end of 2015, the DES carried out the ‘Lifeskills survey’ with principals of post-primary schools. The research is awaiting publication, however, preliminary analysis suggest very high levels of schools reported having an RSE policy in place, or were in the process of developing one; and the vast majority of schools reported teaching RSE at junior and senior cycle.

The improvement initiatives included training for teachers, the development of resources for Junior and Senior Cycle RSE, the development of the website, and increased inspections of the Social Personal and Health Education Programme.

“While these initiatives were put in place to improve RSE delivery, and while research suggests that improvements have been taking place, reports from the DES Inspectorate continue to report a variation in the quality of the RSE Programme taught in schools and students continue to report dissatisfaction with the RSE Programme,” the HSE said.

• See Sex education ‘out of touch’

Lloyd Mudiwa

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times