Limerick teachers' representatives point to resources as problem in sex education

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Trade unions have called on Minister Richard Bruton to resource sex education in order to roll out new proposals

Trade unions have called on Minister Richard Bruton to resource sex education in order to roll out new proposals

TEACHERS’ representatives in Limerick have welcomed Minister Richard Bruton’s proposal to strengthen education on sexual consent in primary and secondary classrooms.

However, local ASTI and INTO spokespersons have urged the Minister to improve schools’ relationship and sexuality education (RSE) programme, which has been described as “under-resourced”.

Following the the conclusion of the Belfast rape trial last week, the Fine Gael minister has called for a review of the sex education curriculum and how it is delivered at both school levels.

Peter Quinn, representative of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI), said he hopes the Department of Education makes resources available to teachers to ensure they are “more competent and confident” to deliver on the issue.

“It’s easy to come out and make a statement: ‘We’re going to do X, Y, Z’ and not put something in place behind it, so it could can be delivered on a proper footing.”

Mr Quinn added: “You have to welcome anything that will improve students’ knowledge and understanding of sexual health and relationships. You have to remember that teachers are dealing with students, between the ages of 12 and 18, so there is quite a large range of age there. A6nd as they get older, they become sexually more active.”

Joe Lyons, principal of Ballybrown national school and INTO spokesperson for Limerick, told the Leader: “What we would say is that the RSE in schools is under-resourced. You need to make sure that the teachers are upskilled and properly trained, and that you do have the resources in school.”

Former Minister for Education and Limerick City TD, Jan O’Sullivan welcomed the review “because some of the curriculum goes back 20 years and obviously things have changed hugely”.

She told Limerick Today on Live 95fm this Tuesday: “Some schools do it [sex education] very, very well, others don’t do it so well.”

She added: “I think part of the problem is that teachers just aren’t either upskilled in it or are uncomfortable with it, and that’s really where the focus needs to be.”