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Schools given revised sexuality education guidance

Schools are being issued with revised guidance on relationship and sexuality education (RSE) and drugs education.

The guidance produced by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) has been updated to reflect new legislation, technological advances and societal changes which affect how schools deal with such sensitive issues.

Education minister John O'Dowd said the teaching of RSE enabled pupils to develop the skills and knowledge they needed to build positive relationships and to develop their understanding of relationships and sexuality.

The RSE guidance references the recent inquiries into child sexual exploitation and provides an opportunity for schools to play a preventative role by improving awareness among staff of the vulnerability factors and current indicators of child sexual exploitation.

It also identifies how effective RSE provision can help pupils recognise potentially exploitative and dangerous situations and how to take preventative action.

The revised guidance brings together the issues of RSE and also drugs education within the framework of personal development. The drugs education guidance is aligned to the current statutory curriculum and takes account of changes in legislation relating to drugs since the previous guidance was published in 2004.

"RSE must be delivered in a sensitive manner which is appropriate to the age and understanding of pupils and also the ethos of the school. That is why my department has produced separate guidance for primary and post-primary schools," Mr O'Dowd said.

"The updated guidance provides advice and an overall framework for the development of schools' policies which will help principals and teachers deliver this important subject."

Kathryn Gilbert, Programme Manager at CCEA, said: "The revised guidance outlines the reasons for the changes and provides useful background information and sources of further information on these important issues for schools. The guidance provides a useful context for how these sensitive issues should be dealt with and will help schools create meaningful policies for RSE and drugs education."

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