NCCA logo NCCA logo

Senior Cycle Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

Senior cycle SPHE aims to support learners in making informed choices for health and wellbeing now and in the future. The framework builds on students’ prior learning in primary and junior cycle SPHE.

The framework is built around five areas of learning:

  • Mental health
  • Gender studies
  • Substance use
  • Relationships and sexuality education
  • Physical activity and nutrition

At the request of the Minister of Education, the NCCA undertook a major review of RSE in primary and post-primary schools. The review began in June 2018. The review included an examination of the RSE curriculum, the approach to teaching and learning, supports needed, and ways to improve the experience of RSE for students.


Participation in the review was considerable, demonstrating the level of interest people have in this aspect of education. The review involved students, parents, teachers, school leaders, researchers and organisations, with a view to gaining a full appreciation of the nature of young peoples’ needs and experience of RSE. The review was conducted in two phases.


The first phase took place between June 2018 and March 2019. There was widespread participation in this phase of the consultation. On foot of extensive consultation, the NCCA produced a Draft Report on the Review of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in Primary and Post-Primary Schools and began a second phase of consultation from July to October 2019. This consultation was based on proposals in the draft Report which included; the proposed advice for the future approach to RSE, suggestions regarding future curriculum developments, the conditions needed for effective RSE and other considerations. Feedback was facilitated through an online survey, written submissions and a consultative symposium.



Report  on the Review of RSE

Research Paper 

To support participants who wished to contribute to the review, a research paper has been developed by Prof. Mark Morgan, Dr Seline Keating and Dr Bernie Collins, Dublin City University. The paper provides a historical context for the review, an overview of contemporary approaches to RSE, as well as insights into the experience of teachers, parents and of course students.

Student Voice

The NCCA conducted focus group meetings with primary and post primary students across 23 schools. Their views are contained in the draft Report, in chapter 2, p. 14-25. In addition, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) organised a one-day consultation event with 77 representatives from Comhairlí na nÓg. Overview of Consultation with Comhairle na nÓg


Written Submissions

Written submissions are an important part of the NCCA’s consultation process.

Update on NCCA’s work arising from the Report on the Review of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in primary and post-primary schools

The NCCA has established two development groups, one for primary and one for post-primary, to oversee development work in this area.  Both groups began meeting from October 2020. The key areas of work are summarised below.

Interim Guidance: The immediate focus of work for the development groups is to develop materials that will be included in interim guidance for teaching SPHE/RSE. The guidance will support teachers in their engagement with the current curriculum in a confident and holistic manner. This interim guidance will be made available in the form of an online toolkit here.

Resources: The NCCA has worked collaboratively with the teacher professional development support services and other relevant groups in completing an audit of current teaching and learning resources relevant to SPHE/RSE. Building on this work, a comprehensive resource list has been compiled which has been published as part of the online toolkit  for SPHE/RSE. This provides a single, online access point for up-to-date resources. To visit please click here.

Curriculum development: The Report recommends the development of a single, integrated curriculum for RSE and SPHE spanning both primary and post-primary education, with adequate time to teach it. Work on new specifications for SPHE/RSE will commence in the NCCA in late 2021 - 2022, beginning with a focus on junior cycle. As the curriculum work develops there will be opportunities for engagement with all the key stakeholders as well as further processes of public consultation before any new curriculum specifications are finalised.


Timeline of key actions

Development Groups meeting – Oct 2020 ongoing  

Publication of interim guidance – Jan 2021 – Dec 2021

Redevelopment of SPHE/RSE curriculum – 2021- 2020 Junior Cycle, 2023 Senior Cycle and Primary

Consultations on draft revised curriculum – Ongoing