Schools ‘need staff dedicated to teaching sex education’

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Schools need dedicated sex-education teachers with a professional qualification in the subject, according to the body representing managers of religious-run – predominantly Catholic – schools.

The availability of teachers trained and willing to teach teenagers about sex education is a challenge, John Curtis, of the Joint Managerial Body (JMB), told the Oireachtas Education Committee.

Mr Curtis, who was speaking against the backdrop of reviews into the 20-year-old Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme, called for a post-graduate diploma course in the subject to develop professional expertise.

Under questioning from committee members about the impact of a school’s religious ethos on RSE teaching, Mr Curtis said they were committed to giving all information to children, although “there may be local difficulties and things we need to address”.

He said pupils were entitled to high-quality RSE education, but also defended the right of schools to do so in a way compatible with their ethos.