Educate Together Teachers Leading Change in SPHE and RSE

By Pam O’Leary, Cork Educate Together Secondary School

Teachers from Cork ETSS, Firhouse ETSS and Stepaside ETSS were amongst the first intake for this groundbreaking programme, the photo was taken on the morning of their induction.

In January 2024 five Educate Together teachers from Cork ETSS, Firhouse ETSS and Stepaside ETSS were amongst the first group of teachers to complete the Postgraduate Diploma in SPHE and RSE at DCU. This groundbreaking course is the only specialist teacher development programme of its kind in SPHE and RSE at post-primary level in Ireland and is underpinned by a rights-based and inclusive approach to relationships and sexuality education in particular.

Dr. Kay Maunsell, Programme Chair and Associate Professor of Psychology and Education, DCU Institute of Education said, “We, in the DCU Institute of Education, are honoured to provide this specialist training for post-primary teachers in SPHE and RSE. The programme will equip teachers to become qualified specialists in this area. We are very proud of being involved in this historic progress in the Irish education system.’

This programme is fully funded by the Department of Education under an initiative that is seeking to address the gap in teacher education in SPHE/RSE. The programme now in its second year is open to all teachers who are currently teaching SPHE/RSE in post primary schools recognised by the Department of Education. This reflects the intention to provide pathways for progression for teachers seeking to develop their skills in SPHE/RSE and it provides the opportunity to create leadership within the teaching profession in this area.

This innovative, one-year, part-time NFQ Level 9 post-graduate programme incorporates three areas of professional learning: personal development, skills and knowledge. Alongside the advancement of specialist subject knowledge, a key focus of the programme is teachers’ own personal development and the adaption of a skill set needed for the teaching of SPHE/RSE in the classroom.

Pam O’Leary a Guidance Counsellor, SPHE and Ethical Education teacher from CETSS stated: “The PGDip in SPHE and RSE was life changing for me both personally and professionally. The course gave me an opportunity to stretch my instructional capacity and to increase my confidence in teaching sensitive SPHE and RSE topics. I look forward to bringing these creative and inclusive methodologies back to my school but also look forward to collaborating with other ET teachers in the area of SPHE and RSE in the near future”.

For more information on the programme: Graduate Diploma in SPHE RSE.

To learn more listen to the Teachers’ Inspire podcast which features Dr Kay Maunsell and Dr Leanne Coll about the postgrad SPHE RSE programme in DCU.