Parents and a significant number of those who contributed to the public consultation process on radical changes to sex-education have given a cautious welcome to the recommendation that school ethos continue to be protected, but say they are still in the dark in relation to the content of what will be introduced in schools.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) published its Report on the review and consultation process yesterday. It’s recommendation that a school’s ethos is important when deciding on sex education creates a direct tension with the recommendation of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills Report on Relationships and Sexuality Education.

The Committee’s report, published in January of this year, recommended that the Education Act 1998 be reviewed so that ethos can no longer be used as a ‘barrier’ to the effective teaching of the RSE and SPHE curriculum.

The NCCA Report on the other hand made it clear that:

“while the review acknowledges that school ethos can be a source of tension and uncertainty for some schools/teachers when it comes to addressing some aspects of [sex education], the review concludes that at this point school ethos cannot be separated out from other factors that influence the teaching of RSE [relationships and sex education].”

However, parents have continued to express concern that the NCCA Report offered no detailed clarity around what the actual content of the revised curriculum will consist of.

They also point to the Report’s insistence that in future developments related to RSE, “school ethos seemed to come well down a list” in which “an up-to-date curriculum and support materials, attracted greater priority.”

The NCCA has also failed to acknowledge or appreciate the alarm among many parents with respect to the origin and content of so called ‘support materials’ that are grounded in an extremely liberal vision of what constitutes age appropriate sex education.

Parents who have spoken to Gript.ie after having analysed the NCCA Report described some elements as a ‘fudge’ and an exercise in “tactical deflection.”

They went to say that:

“The Report is ambiguous at best. It seems to have accepted that ethos must be protected only because it met with significant public resistance not because it ought to be protected in principle. While we welcome that; it is clear from the tone and ideological thrust of the document that efforts to bypass or circumvent the protection that ethos or parents’ wishes affords will continue to be pursued.”

“We are also deeply concerned that the Summary of the Report made it explicitly clear that from the perspective of the NCCA, the foundation for agreeing an approach to the provision for RSE must be grounded in international treaties and instruments, because some of those same documents have been the cause of serious concern for parents,” they said.

As previously reported by Gript.ie, the NCCA refer to a WHO document on sex-education which, amongst other things, recommends teaching about masturbation to 4 year olds.