top of page
  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Consultation launched on Relationships and Sexuality Education in Northern Ireland schools

Pupils raising their hands in classroom

The Department of Education has launched a consultation seeking views on changes to elements of Relationships and Sexuality Education.


Legislation passed by the Secretary of State requires that Northern Ireland schools teach age-appropriate and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion, at Key Stages 3 and 4 only.



The legislation also requires the Department to bring forward regulations in respect of the parental right to have their child excused from receiving age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion. 


The consultation focuses on the circumstances and arrangements which would enable parents/carers to exercise that right.


The Department of Education’s Permanent Secretary Dr Mark Browne said:


“I welcome the launch of this important consultation seeking views regarding the changes to specific elements of Relationships and Sexuality Education at Key Stages 3 and 4.



“I would encourage all interested parties to make their views known during the consultation period.”


The option to have a child excused from these specific classes does not apply to any other areas of Relationships and Sexuality Education. 


The consultation will run for 12 weeks from 1 September to 24 November 2023.  


Following an analysis of the consultation findings, the Department will publish its overall response to the consultation and develop guidance on the arrangements to have a child excused by 1 January 2024.


The consultation document can be accessed here:




The Department of Education has launched a consultation on its legal duty to provide for parents/carers to request to have their child excused from specific areas of the Personal Development strand of Learning for Life and Work at Key Stages 3 and 4.


The Department is required to bring forward regulations in respect of arrangements for parents/carers to have their child excused from these classes covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion. It should be noted that the option to have a child excused does not apply to other areas of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE). 


The Secretary of State has already made regulations which make age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion mandatory at Key Stages 3 and 4 in response to the 2018 report by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.


The Department is required to have its regulations and guidance in place for 1 January 2024.

Commentaires


bottom of page