Relationship and Sexuality Education

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 27th September 2016.

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Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green 2:30 pm, 27th September 2016

T5. Ms Bailey asked the Minister of Education for his assessment of whether a consistent approach to the teaching of relationships and sexuality education (RSE) in all our schools would help to reduce educational inequalities. (AQT 240/16-21)

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

There are important issues for RSE teaching in that regard. From that point of view, we want to see as much consistency as possible. It may be less about removing inequality than about trying to make sure that all children are equipped to deal with the complex questions that face them regularly. As regards pure implementation, I will not be in a position necessarily to micromanage what happens directly in the classroom. I am not there correcting textbooks or ensuring precisely what the lesson plan is. I think that as much consistency as possible is something of advantage, but I appreciate that there will be sensitivities around the issue. It is important that we give schools a little space to deliver on that curriculum.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

There is time for a very quick supplementary and a very quick response.

Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green

Thank you, Speaker. Thank you for your answer, Minister. That being the case, can you let us know how the Department evaluates the education that happens in our schools?

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

The evaluation, with a range of other issues, will be subject to Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) inspection, which will look at a wide range of subjects that are provided in schools. While it is funded via the Department, it is essentially at arm's length and will provide that level of independent evaluation. It is important that the relationship in that sense is not so close that there is any question of bias.

I have great faith in the ETI's ability to provide that level of inspection. It already does that for RSE and will continue to do that in an effective and professional manner.