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06th Mar 2024

Irish children could be taught about sex and relationships in primary school

Ryan Price

catholic school wicklow

It’s the biggest shake-up of the Irish primary school curriculum in 25 years.

A new set of proposals for an overhaul of the schooling system at a primary level in Ireland have been put forward by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

The standout proposal is one that would educate children on sex, consent and different family structures at a much earlier age.

These new measures have been considered because apparently children are starting school at an older age and some are entering puberty earlier.

The aim of this new approach to conversations around sexuality would be to give schoolchildren a more balanced and developmentally-appropriate understanding of human nature and sexuality.

Education around human relationships and consent would begin from third and fourth year onwards, and could have the potential of helping those on the verge of their teenage years manage their emotions better and equip them with tools to care for their mental health going forward.

Teachers at this level would receive full support to make their own professional judgements on the needs of individual pupils in their class and would be trusted to gauge whether or not a particular pupil is ready for this kind of subject matter.

According to The Irish Times, the proposed changes are the subject of public consultation from today until June 7th.

Along with the new approach towards sexual education, the scheme has put forward a suggestion to bring the learning of foreign languages forward.

Currently, foreign languages only exist on the secondary school curriculum, but the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has suggested it could be taught from third to sixth class at the primary level.

Furthermore, a broader arts education would be introduced, with a new emphasis on dance and media arts.

The statutory body described the new propositions as a “landmark step” in the progression of the Irish education system.

For several years now, many have felt that the education system in Ireland has required an update in order to reflect the new multicultural and diverse society that we currently live in.

The new measures would have the objective of providing the children of the country with a foundation of societal awareness and emotional intelligence to thrive in their teenage and adult years and contribute positively to the society they will inevitably inherit.

Members of the public can have their say on the proposed changes online and in school forums from now until June 7th. More information can be accessed on the NCAA website.

Any changes that get approved will likely take years to roll out.

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