No sex education for a third of senior secondary school students

No sex education for a third of senior secondary school students

More than 35% of surveyed second-level students said they have received no relationship and sexuality education (RSE) so far during their senior cycle of study. 

Young adults say they are not learning enough about sex or relationships during their senior years in school, with one in three students indicating they received no classes on the topics.

More than 35% of surveyed second-level students said they have received no relationship and sexuality education (RSE) so far during their senior cycle of study. 

Six out of 10 students said they received RSE only at a "minimum level" throughout fifth and sixth year. This could have been a single talk or class, or a "surface-level" discussion.

Research by ISSU overseen by the ESRI

Close to half (46%) of the students surveyed also described the RSE they’ve received as "lacking" or "very lacking".

From the schools surveyed, senior students who attend co-educational and non-Deis schools were more likely to not receive RSE. 

The findings are included in research carried out by the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU), and overseen by the ESRI, that asked fifth- and sixth-year students for their views on reforming the senior cycle.

Almost 1,500 students were asked about subject choice, the Leaving Cert, mental health, and equality in schools. 

58% 'see discrimination at school' 

Almost six out of 10 students (58%) said they had seen discrimination against LGBT+ students in their school, while a further 42% said they had noticed racial discrimination on some level in their schools. 

In terms of wellbeing, 80% of the students surveyed said academic work and the prospect of exams had negatively impacted their mental health. 

A further 38% said the level of mental health support they received in school was "poor" or "very poor". 

Half say the CAO system is 'unfair'

Almost half of the students surveyed described the current CAO system for entry to third-level as "unfair" or "very unfair". 

More than 40% of students said they received "a lot of pressure" or "so much pressure [they] felt they had no choice" but to proceed to third-level. 

When it came to subjects, 54% of students said they were in favour of making Irish non-compulsory. 

With regard to the subjects students felt should be compulsory, they most often said politics and society, PE, technology, home economics, and history. 

Student participation in senior cycle review

In history, English, and accounting, 70% of students said they would like to see more time given during the exam. In all three sciences, the majority of students said they would like to see more relevant modules, such as sustainability and ethics. 

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is currently undertaking a review of senior cycle education, as well as of RSE in schools. 

The ISSU said that it is key students are represented in the reform process as they have a unique and valuable insight into the flaws and possibilities of the system. 

"Overall, students want to see a system that supports and uplifts everyone and gives them the tools they need to succeed throughout their lives," it said. 

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