The Catholic Education Partnership (CEP) welcomes the opening of the consultation process of the Social Personal Health Education (SPHE) Senior-Cycle Curriculum Specification by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

The Chief Executive of CEP, Alan Hynes, said, “The specification respects the individuality of students, in the context of their responsibilities towards others, with an emphasis on the dignity of all persons. Senior cycle students are moving toward the responsibilities and challenges of adulthood, and the specification recognises their increased agency in that regard. However, the role of parents as primary educators of their children is something we believe is still essential to explicitly recognise and respect in all SPHE programmes.

“CEP is disappointed that the spiritual aspect of wellbeing has been neglected. We are confident that the NCCA will recognise the importance of this element at all levels of SPHE, as it already is the in the specifications for primary and the junior-cycle post-primary. CEP believes that a consistency of approach across all levels is advisable.

“CEP understands what the NCCA are trying to achieve with the inclusion of ‘allyship’ and ‘privileged status’. Within Catholic schools, we believe that the ethical question of justice among peoples is better served by ideas grounded in the solidarity we owe to others as fellow brothers and sisters, arising from our common humanity. Within a European context, we believe the NCCA should have taken account, for example, of the Aims and Values of the EU. It is disappointing not to see European values  reflected in the document, but it reflects the general research bias of the NCCA towards the Anglosphere, often ignoring our EU partners and other sources, in this case taking inspiration the particular social and historical context of North America.

“Catholic schools look forward to engaging with this specification through a Catholic lens, encouraging respectful dialogue and encounter with other points of views, informed at all times as to the essential dignity of all persons, created as we all are in the image and likeness of God.

“CEP looks forward to participating in the consultation process and our submission will be published in due course. We encourage parents, students, teachers, school management, and other stakeholders in education to participate in this important consultation process.”

CEP notes that the Minister for Education has signaled her intent to make SPHE a mandatory subject for schools to offer and timetable for all students. As is noted by the NCCA, this does not affect the right of parents to withdraw their child from this subject, in-whole or in-part, or the right of students who are 18 or over to determine their own participation. CEP and other Catholic education bodies will engage with the Department of Education to secure the necessary supports to assist schools in meeting this entitlement.

CEP encourages parents, students, teachers, school leadership, and other stakeholders to engage with this consultation process.

Details of the NCCA’s consultation process are available at the following link: